Monday, February 27, 2012

Some Changes!

New blog layout! I decided the other one, while very cool, was too hard to read and sometimes the pictures were hard to see. This one is much better (and spring-ier). I used one of Blogger's templates but one day I'll make up my own and personalize it with my own pictures and background.

Also, I've added a "Some of My Favorite Things" box to the sidebar on the right. It has links to Amazon for the things that I like that I mention in the bog. (Shameless plug: If you click there and purchase something, I'll get a little something in return.) Although, I tried to find the Oxo grater I recently purchased (at another store), but it wasn't there. There were 50,000 other Oxo graters, but not mine. Mine is a pyramid-shaped grater and I love it. I'll still put a link in the blog itself for my favorite things, but this way you can browse all my favorites without going back through all the posts! Handy!

In Knitting News:
I've been plugging away on my Dipped Infinity Scarf:
Love the subtle color changes.  The pattern is incredibly easy to follow - definitely tv knitting.  You can purchase the pattern separately, but this one came as a kit with the 8 colors pre-selected (I got it as a fiber festival and one of the vendors put it together). I would have gone mad trying to make 8 colors match so that they would gradually change like that! If you can't tell in this picture, you'll be able to tell when I have more done.  Plus, the yarn was measured out for me in this kit, which made it a little more affordable too.

And, I'm getting ready to start something new!  More on that later.

In other news:
Have I told you how much I love, Love, LOVE Downton Abbey?????  I'm on episode 5 of Season 1.  It's like the greatest little soap opera ---  the lives of the family that lives in this gorgeous English manor and how they intertwine with the lives of the staff that works for them.  Season 2 recently ended on PBS and I understand it's just as enjoyable as season 1.
If you want to try it, you can get just one episode (episode 1 of season 1!) here:

And then WHEN you love it, you can get the whole Season 1 here: Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey
Then come back and tell me how you like it!

I'm off to clean the bathrooms and then reward myself by watching another episode. (Somehow I think cleaning bathrooms needs a slightly larger reward....)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A knitting FO, a creepy (but GREAT) book and a not-so-sure book

A finished knitting project (or a knitting FO --- "finished object") and two book reviews are on tap for today!

I knit up this E-Reader Cozy real quick this week and will be teaching it as a class at The Spinning Room in April:
It is loosely based on this pattern on Ravelry:  Cabled Kindle Sleeve   ........ but I changed the cast on stitches and the number of knits/purls between cables.  If you are interested in my numbers, check them out on my Ravelry page HERE.  This one fits my Nook (most basic version) perfectly!  Can't wait to get it back from the shop after the class so I can use it..... maybe I should just make another.  It was a pretty quick knit.

Still not enough progress on my Dipped Infinity Scarf or my Umaro to show you.  I got distracted by another potential class project but that pretty much failed so I'm not going to talk about it!

How about some book reviews?????
Mallory's Oracle (Kathleen Mallory Novels) ; or the kindle version Mallory's Oracle (Kathleen Mallory)
(Click there to order this book on Amazon)
This one took me some time to get through.  I was enjoying the story but for some reason kept falling asleep when I went to read it.  So, I only read a few pages at a time and then couldn't keep the minor characters straight (and there were several since they were narrowing down suspects for several murders).   Usually the falling asleep thing is  a clue that I'm not that into a book, but I'm still intrigued.  This is the first in a series with the main character Kathleen Mallory.   She has an interesting history (which gets revealed little by little in this book - and I assume more in the books following - so I'm not going to tell you it here) and it is because of this that I will at least read the next one.   Mallory is investigating the deaths of several people by a serial killer (including her father, who was also a police detective and was killed investigating the same crimes).  Her methods are not always orthodox and in this novel, is getting away with them because she has been placed on bereavement leave.  This aspect makes the book intriguing and exciting.

This was the first book by Carol O'Connell that I have read and the writing style was hard for me to get used to. (Again, this may be because of my sporadic reading.)  The chapters would often end with a sentence that left me saying "what the heck is that supposed to mean? did I miss something?".  And often the story would change to another scene without me realizing it.  One paragraph talking about one subject, the next paragraph felt like I was coming in on the middle of the scene.  Ultimately, I was able to get the gist of the story but I did struggle a little.  Overall I enjoyed the story-line and will at least read the next in the series.  I'm a sucker for series books since I love to follow the changing lives of the recurring characters (ie: Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels; Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie novels; James Patternson's Alex Cross novels; James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux novels)

Now the next book I read was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games: Movie Tie-in Edition or the kindle version The Hunger Games --- click there to order on Amazon) and this was completely different.  Could. Not. Put. It. Down. -- had no trouble staying awake and in fact stayed up very late to finish it!  I had heard about this "young adult" book and saw a trailer for the movie, thinking it looked a little creepy.  And it is a little creepy.  It takes place in the future with a rather depressing view of how society could end up.   Despite that, this story really reeled me in.  Each year, the 12 districts in this society, put up a girl and a boy to compete in the Hunger Games in which they go to an "arena" and the last one standing wins.  Yes, they have to kill each other.  That's another reason it was creepy and made me think "this is a young adult book???".  But again, the writer just draws you into the story and I couldn't stop reading it!   LOVED. IT.

This is the first in a trilogy and I'll be on to the second one Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)
soon....  (kindle version: Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) )

Right now, I've started a book my mom recommended:The Jaguar (Charlie Hood) (or Kindle version The Jaguar (Charlie Hood))  I've only gotten into a few pages but so far there has been a kidnapping, a hidden room behind a wall in the closet and bunkers with lots of money in them.  Stay tuned.

And because this cracks me up, here is a picture of Mandy the Scaredy Dog not wanting to get her pillow back from Phoebe:
Laying on one tiny, little corner.  (She's still wearing the cone so the licking spot on her leg will heal completely.  Doesn't she look a little pathetic?)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Racing Prep

Another busy Saturday in the garage....
Task: Installing Headers
Method: Paul gets under car and slides them into place, while Liz stands on a step ladder (because the car has to be jacked up REALLY high in order to slide them into place) to put a bolt in part way.

Liz puts in a bolt part way.  Liz gets under car to hold header while Paul installs gasket and more bolts (after running to get camera for Liz while she is under the car, so she can take a picture).
The shiny silver thing is a header.
View from below while waiting for Paul to install gasket......
Translation:  What is a header you ask?  No idea. Sorry.

Knitting News:
I made a Downton Hat!

I'm not much of a hat wearer, but you can't get a great idea of what it looks like without it on (since I don't have a hat mold to display it on) and I was the only one around willing to try it on.  Who watches Downton Abbey????? A great PBS show, takes place starting in 1912 when the Titanic sinks.   This pattern is based on a pattern from that era.  I'm teaching a class at the shop in April for this pattern.  LOVE. IT.

And I cast on for my Dipped Infinity Scarf.  Got a couple of rows knit but not enough to show you yet.  Next time.....  Ooh, and I'll have a book review!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Sweet (Savory) Valentine

Here's what Paul and I did for Valentine's Day:

Heart-shaped pizza!  Yum!  And since it was Valentine's Day, I'll gush just a tiny bit about Paul.  He is the cat's pajamas of husbands.  He's great.

I went to a postponed-because-of-that-huge-October-snowstorm girls weekend at The Red Lion Inn this weekend. It was so much fun and so nice to catch up with all the girls (hi girls!!!!). We all know each other from living/working in Connecticut but now we are spread out in Mass.,Vermont and New York too.

Before meeting them at the Lee shopping outlets, I stopped at Colorful Stitches in Lenox. Couldn't help picking up this:
Kathmandu Aran in a pretty purpley-blue. Love this yarn-I made my first cardigan with this in the oatmeal-y color. And sock yarn from Into the Whirled. She has been at most of the local fiber festivals and I picked up some of her roving at the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival.

Then it was on to the outlets where I got this cute little thing at the Coach outlet on super-sale:
Once we had exhausted all the buying options there, it was on to the inn for chatting and wine and nibble-ies (and sock-knitting for me). There were 7 of us so we rented one of the little cottages on the inn property. Very cozy. Then, a yummy dinner and watching some karoake. What a bunch of local characters .... One who was quite toasted, fell down several steps, got back up, unhurt, and fist-bumped one of my friends. And the other who went up to sing in an arm cast and neck brace, then proceeded to tell "those of you who don't know me" to be careful of his left side because he had several broken ribs. (apparently all due to a recent snowmobile accident). In past years of this get-together I have missed this part since I didn't stay over (needing to work at the shop)-- what a riot.

On to the Lion's Den at the inn to watch the last set of the band there, and finally back to the cottage to sleep at 1:30 am. Whew!

The next morning was a yummy breakfast at the inn and saying goodbye. We had such a nice time and are looking forward to the next one.  Before I left, though, I had to stop at the gift shop to pick up this:
The yummiest salad dressing...Maple Dijon Vinaigrette.  The Red Lion Inn's own recipe.

For me it was then on to my mom's in CT to visit. We watched lots of "Chopped" on Food Network (a real treat for me since I don't get that channel at home) and more sock knitting.

Got home Monday and finished my socks!!!:
Froot Loop socks. I. Love. Them. But, I will NEVER make them again! The pattern is quite tedious and I like things to move along a little quicker. Especially socks.

Now, it's on to my Umaro blanket:
 But, since this blanket is huge, and has a chart to follow, sometimes you just need something a little easier to work on.  So,  I'm going to wind yarn and cast on for my Infinity Scarf today:
It will be knit using these yarns, in this order, from left to right.  Pretty and denimy.  Can't wait to see what it will look like.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Present!

The other night, Paul and I were watching tv and Phoebe came into the room.  She had just come up from the basement (where her food and litter box are) through her cat door.  I didn't really even notice her come in but Paul had and saw her go sit by the window looking outside.  Then she turned around and walked back through the room.  Paul said "What does she have, one of those dust bunnies in her whiskers?" (Which she often gets from the basement.)  I looked, and my heart jumped to my throat when I realized she had a MOUSE in her mouth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  She had been sitting by the window, just holding it.  UGH!!!!!

Paul got up to go see, and Phoebe dropped it onto the carpet. Luckily it was dead.  Then Paul ran to the garage to get some gloves and  a bag.  In the meantime, I think I was still screaming, "Ewwwww!  Ewwwww!"  Then Phoebe went to pick it up again so I "pssssssst"ed her away, which got Mandy going, so she went over to investigate.  Then I was yelling, "Leave it!" to Mandy, which usually works but this didn't so I had to physically pull her away.  Paul finally came back in about an hour later (real time: 30 seconds) and he "took care of" the mouse.  In case it needs to be said one more time: ICK!!!!!!

It was only then that Paul said, "Aren't we supposed to praise her or something?"  As I held the carpet cleaner spray and a paper towel, I tried to pat Phoebe but she didn't want anything to do with me.  I'm sure she was pretty proud of herself for giving us this present, and we totally burst her bubble with our reaction.  Her new name is Mouser, by the way.

In knitting news:
The Sycamore Vest is done, Done, DONE!
I absolutely LOVE. IT.  It doesn't have buttons but you don't need them because it hangs just so.  Comfy and fits great (sorry, no pic with me wearing it yet - maybe I'll get one this weekend).  Using the Cascade 220 Sport is perfect because it makes for a nice, lightweight vest that can be worn three seasons (maybe even four!).

And, I got to work on my Froot Loop socks, on the heels (pardon the pun) of having finished my Socks of Kindness.  I had one sock done all the way past the heel turn, but because the pattern is so fussy, I decided I better start the other one, so I wouldn't NOT want to knit the second one when I was done with the first.  So, I got crack-a-lackin' and got the second sock knitted to match the first:
Now, I just need to do the foot and toe sections on each one.  The second sock took a lot less time once I actually had the time to put into knitting it.  The first one limped along during my 1/2 hour lunch breaks when I was working at Indian Ladder Farms.  Then the whole thing got put on hold during the holidays and my knitting for classes I'd be teaching.  So, I think I'm going to have another finished pair fairly soon!

Since I'll be getting a UFO (un-finished object) done, I'm going to start a new project! Stay tuned......

I'm hoping to have a book review soon.  I'm reading a book on my Nook but having a hard time getting through it for a couple of reasons:  Lately I've started reading when I'm really tired, but also, for some reason I'm having a hard time keeping track of the story line and so that slows me down a little.  More on that when I review it.....  good story line though.

Lastly, a pretty view out the window the other day:

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Predictable One

You had to know that I'd write a post about the Super Bowl.  Paul and I love the Super Bowl because it is an excuse to have our one beer of the year and make some appetizers.  And watch commercials.  We talk during the game and stop everything to watch the commercials.

This year, though, we actually did pay some attention to the game.  Paul knows football rules very well even though he never watches.  Me, not so much.  After the first 5 minutes of questions from me, I could tell Paul knew he was in for a loooooooong game.  And then there was me, cheering when the team in blue did something good because I kept thinking the Giants were the ones wearing blue.  Don't they usually wear blue? (Like I really know what they "usually" wear.)

The appetizers were yummy, one of which were barbecued (that's how spell check told me to spell that - isn't there usually a "Q" or is that just in the abbreviation?) ribs:

And then there was dessert.... yummy Peanut Butter truffle Brownies:
 This picture was taken right before I spread that chocolate all over the top of the peanut butter truffle stuff (which is on top of the brownies).   Mmmmmmmmm......peanut butter (love. it.).  I got the recipe from the Betty Crocker website but will give it to you here:

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies
Brownie Base:  Brownie mix and ingredients needed (on the box)
Filling: 1/3 cup butter; 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter, 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons milk
Topping: 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, 3 tablespoons butter

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees (325 for dark or nonstick pans).  Grease bottom only of an 8" or 9" square pan with cooking spray or shortening.  Make brownies as directed on the box and let cool completely (about 1 hour).

2. In medium bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Spread mixture evenly over brownie base.

3.  In small microwavable bowl, microwave topping ingredients uncovered on High 30 to 60 seconds; stir until smooth.  Cool 10 minutes; spread over filling.  Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until set.   For brownies, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows.  Store covered in refrigerator.

Meanwhile, Phoebe and I were celebrating climbing out of the knitting black hole:
.....thanks to some relaxing time with my sister and nephews over the weekend.  It's actually looking like a vest now!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Black Hole

It's official: I'm in The Black Hole of Knitting.  For those not familiar with this knitting term, it refers to when you have been knitting on a project for quite some time, yet that project doesn't seem to be getting any bigger.  I have been working on my Sycamore Vest for several years now. (Ok, so it's really only been a few weeks and I've mostly been knitting on it for the past few days.)  I have been knitting and knitting and knitting.... and it's not getting any bigger.  Despite needing two new balls of yarn.
I'm so excited to get this knit and it's just going nowhere.  When I get done with the body and to separating for the armholes, I'll really feel like I'm making progress and I think it will go more quickly.  But apparently that is several years away.

Reality Check:
Here is my vest when I blogged about it on January 28 (six days ago):
See? Absolutely no progess. (insert sarcasm here)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

done. Done. DONE!

 YAY!!!!  For me, there is nothing more satisfying than finishing a pair of socks.  Even though sweaters and blankets take a long time to knit and those, maybe, should be more satisfying, they aren't.  There is something about socks.  Maybe it's the tiny needles and skinny yarn (which maybe makes it seem as if you are knitting as may rows and stitches as in a sweater or blanket).
 Maybe it's that you can put all kinds of patterns into just this little finished piece.
Or maybe it's just that when they are done you can put them right on and they feel so warm and comfy and you don't have to block them or do anything special except enjoy them!  LOVE. THEM.

AND, not to beat a dead horse, but I'm so happy that I chose to knit both socks at the same time.  It tricks your brain into thinking you are knitting the pair faster, even though you are knitting the same number of stitches.  Seriously.  Try it.

In other news, Paul and I took a drive on Sunday and went to Chatham and Hudson, NY.  First we went  to breakfast at the Homefront Cafe in town and got really full on eggs benedict (for me) and an omelet (for him).  Then we went driving, thinking we'd stop somewhere for lunch.  (Needless to say we were full until 4pm!).

Chatham was a very cute little town and has The Warm Ewe yarn shop.  Unfortunately for us, it's closed on Sundays but we looked in the windows and it looks to be a very nice, cozy shop.  I've heard good things about it.
(tilt your head to the right....)
We also went to this great general store:
....where we may or may not have bought some Valentine's chocolates. (Mmmmmmmm.)

And then we walked by the Chatham Bookstore and saw this:
In the window is a very comfy looking chair with a side table.  That little sign in the window says: "Sit and read in our chair for 30 minutes and we'll give you 30% off your book."  Paul and I had a discussion about what that meant.  I said it meant to sit in that chair in the window.  He didn't think that could possibly be what it meant and said it probably meant a chair in the store.  I wanted to go inside to ask them, but we decided to keep walking.  As a result, I'm choosing to believe I'm right.  ( I actually just looked up their website to see if it said anything about it and it didn't.  I'm stopping short of calling them to ask.  So, I'm still choosing to believe I'm right.)

Random Stuff:
1) It's 53 degrees here today and the daffodils and crocuses are coming out of the soil.  I'm worried they'll get ruined when it gets cold again.  Anyone know what to do?

2) Is it hard to read this with that background?  I like it, but I think it might be too hard to read.

3) Don't forget you can sign up with your email and have new posts emailed to you.  See the "Follow by Email" link at the right.  OR you can "Subscribe" if you have google reader and automatically get new posts that way. See the "Subscribe" button at the right.

4) Isn't this cute?: