Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring is Here! (even though it doesn't really seem like it)

Despite the still-frozen pond....
I can feel it.  Spring is in the air.   This week, the days were a little warmer and I got outside with the doodlebugs for some great walks.  Busses!  Cars!  More Cars!  Planes!  and, wait for it....Even. More. Cars!  The gasps of delight at everything that passed by was hilarious.  And who knew watching furniture guys unload a chair at some random house could be so riveting?  Even though we've still got snow on the ground up here on the hill, and we're still waiting to see buds on the trees, the warm air is encouraging and we just know more is coming.

And Spring also means Easter.  Today and tomorrow are bread-baking marathon days.  Some for the baked french toast I'll be making for Easter brunch, and some for giving away.  My sample loaf last week went over well with my taste testers, so I'm using the same recipe.  Stay tuned for an update on all this yummy goodness!

Spring, however, does not mean I stop knitting with wool!....

In Knitting News:
My Meadowlark is done!

Picture with me in it to come when I have a photographer...
I re-read the directions, which said that the i-cord down the front edges was optional (yay!) so, of course, I opted out.  I actually really didn't think the i-cord would look as good on the fronts since it is supposed to be drapey/wavey.  Like this:
The i-cord would make it sturdy and not-as-drapey.  But it's great to give the arm holes some shape:
Before i-cord
After i-cord.  See?  Neater.
Also, lots of progress on my Bloody Mary Cardigan... the back is done:
I'm excited, although I'm slighty concerned about my yarn amounts.  I should have 100 extra yards.  However, I've used almost a whole skein (of my three skeins) on the back.  I still have the two fronts, two sleeves, button bands and collar to do.  I think I'm worrying too early.

I also finished Square #10 from the Great American Afghan book:
This makes 5 sqaures completed, one in each color. This gives you an idea of my color scheme:
I'm a little not sure about it now.  I don't know why.  I'm trying to imagine it done, and I feel like it will be really busy.  I'm thinking that I will use the darker color for the border to reign in the other lighter colors.  Ha!  Can you see how I'm already thinking about the border when I still have 20 (twenty) more squares to knit and that could take ages?

I also became obsessed with the Lightspeed shawl/scarf-y thing:
Sample picture from
So here are my colors:
(That's navy blue on the right.)
I'm starting it today when I run out of my Bloody Mary yarn -- I have to go to The Spinning Room yarn shop to wind the next skein on their ball winder since it is a jumbo skein!

In Book News:
The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve:  I suffered through this one. 
The Amazon description is:
"From the last time Linda and Thomas meet, at a charmless hotel in a distant city, to the moment, thirty-five years earlier, when a chance encounter on a rocky beach binds them fatefully together, this hypnotically compelling novel unfolds a tale of intense passion, drama, and suspense. "  My take on it:  It was non-hypnotic, depressing and blah.  I just didn't enjoy the story line. 

I have had mixed personal reviews of Anita Shreve's books.  Some I have liked, some I have not.  I loved Light on Snow (see my blog review here).

In Other News:
I am going to participate in the NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) in April, which means I will be posting every day for the whole month.  That's the goal anyway! The idea of this is to get writing and re-juvenate my ideas for the blog. The theme for April is "Fresh" since spring gives us a fresh start etc.  My posts may or may not have to do with the theme (they don't have to), and I'll just see where it takes me.  So, just warning you (or delightfully informing you, if that's the case) that there will be a lot of posting going on.  After that, I'll go back to my regular programming.  If you are not signed up to receive email notifications when there is a new post, you can do so by going to the sidebar on the right! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Garage/Car Wars

This weekend started with some errands Friday night (that's called "Date Night" around here), including getting my car washed.  The weekend continued on Saturday, when I went to teach a very rowdy bunch of knitters how to knit the Trousseau at The Spinning Room (what a fun class!) --- but not before Paul said I should take his car since it had snowed one half inch and we had just washed my car and it shouldn't get dirty.  So, instead of taking my nice, clean car out of the nice, dry garage, I had to walk through the snow in the driveway (the whole half inch of it), clean off his car and drive that.  Ok, I certainly could have just taken my car anyway, but I know how much pride and care Paul takes with the cars so.... 

But I just have to say, there are always so many reasons I don't get to enjoy my garage spot.  Most of them involve Paul working on his other cars, or painting his friends' cars, and needing the space, so mine sits outside.  Note to self:  Thank Paul's friend Rob for letting me have my car sit outside for a good portion of this winter.  Whining over. For now.

In Knitting News:
I am almost done with my Meadowlark ! (I had to look up the name of this AGAIN.  For the life of me, I can't remember the name of it and keep wanting to call it Watershed.)
Unblocked - back view.

Blocking - front view. See how much
bigger/stretched it got?
I've finished the main knitting and blocked it and it is drying as we speak.  Now, I have to put on applied i-cord around the arm holes and along the front edges.  You can just go ahead and stick a knitting needle in my eye right now.  Applied i-cord is the most tedious thing in the world.  Cast on 3 little stitches, then knit 2 stitches and then the third stitch together with an edge stitch, slide stitches to the other end of needle and repeat ad nauseaum for 8 billion stitches (in this case).  I am determined not to put this off, though, so once it is dry, I am going to do it.  Then reward myself with knitting my Bloody Mary cardigan. And maybe a Peep.

In Cooking News:
We are on a health kick here at chez Cassidy.  So, I made this really yummy Lentil Salad:
Looks not terribly pretty, especially in a plastic container, but it was great.  Then last night I made a farro salad (farro is a grain with lots of protein and fiber and is kind of like chewy barley) which was also great.  In between there I made a beef stew in the crock pot, so we aren't going terribly nutso with the healthy stuff.  That would drive us both crazy.

And ALSO, I decided to try to make some Easter bread. I did a test-loaf yesterday to see if it would work, so I can make more at the end of this week. 
Easter bread minus the colored eggs.
It has yeast in it.  AND IT ACTUALLY CAME OUT GREAT!  I surprised myself and was skeptical all along the way, since I wasn't sure if it looked right.  Too soft?  Too sticky? Not risen enough?  Risen too much?  Too brown?  NOPE to all of that.  Just yummy.  And then I blinged it up:
Icing and sprinkles!
 A Book Review!
Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick:  This was a recommended book on the Books on the Nightstand podcast and I really liked it.  I've read several of their recommendations recently and I haven't been disappointed.  I did have a little trouble getting used to the author's writing style which included some run-on sentences/paragraphs and some parts that I wasn't sure where it fit into the story, but eventually stopped trying to re-read things and just went with it.  Here is the Amazon ditty: 
"It is the summer of 1948 when a handsome, charismatic stranger, Charlie Beale, recently back from the war in Europe, shows up in the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village nestled in the Valley of Virginia. All he has with him are two suitcases: one contains his few possessions, including a fine set of butcher knives; the other is full of money. A lot of money. Heading Out to Wonderful is a haunting, heart-stopping novel of love gone terribly wrong in a place where once upon a time such things could happen."
Charlie is a mysterious man.  The story runs along with all kinds of suggestions as to what type of man he might be or might have been before we meet him and constantly makes you wonder where the story is going to end up, hoping for the best, but not really sure it will work out.  Very engaging.

In Other News That May Or May Not Interest You:
Crooked icicle out the back door:

Turn your head sideways....
Eerie day last week:

 Pretty view of Bar Harbor from Paul's trip to Maine for work last week:
Can't wait to go back there for vacation this summer!

Monday, March 18, 2013

No words

The other day I had to take a 19 month old's word for it.....without any words.  It is a daily struggle to prevent one toddler from taking the other's toy.  I'm usually on top of it, intervening to teach them that they can't do this and how to wait their turn.  Or decide when it's time to share and play with it together.  Even when I'm giving them some independent play time and I'm knitting or checking email, I usually see what's happening out of the corner of my eye.  The other day, though, I dropped the ball.

Benjamin and Michaela were playing while I sat on the couch and checked my email.  Suddenly, it got very quiet.  I looked up and both Benjamin and Michaela were looking at me: Benjamin holding a toy; Michaela frozen, reaching for it.  This was clearly an Auntie-Liz-will-be-the-one-to-say-who-gets-it situation.  Since they are not talking yet, aside from a few words here and there, no one could rationally explain to me who was playing with it and who took it or, more likely, who wanted it but couldn't have it.  But I wasn't looking when it happened!  So I said, "Who had it first?"  Michaela put both hands on her chest indicating herself and looking very hopeful.  I said, "Benjamin, give it back." And he did.  Hopefully, Michaela really did have it first (she is usually the taking culprit).  But, I took her "word" for it this time.  The days of words are coming fast, though, and I hope I'm ready!

In St. Patrick's Day News:
We went out to breakfast and this is what I got:
This was called Lazy Leprechan's Benedict.  White toast, bacon, over-medium eggs and green hollandaise.  It. Was. Yummy.

Then, since St. Patrick's Day is alot about eating, I put corned beef in the crock pot with onion, red pepper flakes, beef broth and worcestershire sauce:
Ugh.  That's a pretty unappetizing picture.  My food stying could certainly use some help.  But it was also yummy, with roasted potatoes.

On to Knitting News:
Lots of progress on my Bloody Mary Cardigan!
Isn't it pretty? That is 15", on my way to 22" before I need to do something at the armholes.  I love it. 
I also worked on my afghan square:
....also coming along nicely.

I'll be back to working on my Meadowlark vest today - I got carried away with excitement about finally finding a cardigan pattern. 

And, finally, in the aftermath of all my recent knitting stumbling blocks, an appropriate quote:
Fall seven times, stand up eight.
-Japanese Proverb

Friday, March 15, 2013


Ok.  Deep breath.  Remember that last post where things were going along swimmingly after not doing so for a few days?  Remember how I was going to start my Flyingdales that night? Well......

I got out my yarn and my pattern and grudgingly happily like no other knitters every knitter I know, did a guage swatch.  And it was too small.  So I went up a needle size.  And it was still to small.  So I went up another needle size.  And it was still to small. (Doesn't this sound like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and how he was still hungry???)  Then I didn't like that the fabric was getting so loose, and resigned myself to the fact that my yarn was in fact worsted weight and not heavy worsted as the pattern called for.  My yarn label did not specify this, by the way.  It simply had the yardage and the ounces, which I figured out to be about worsted weight but thought it would still work for this pattern.  It didn't.  So, I looked though my new A Fine Fleece book and found some other patterns that I liked.  And did some guage swatches.  They just didn't work.  Seriously????  After all my searching and planning and waiting????  Here is my 10 mile long gauge swatch:
 So I was back to the drawing board and searched Ravelry again.  Through 30 pages of potential worsted weight cardigan patterns.  I found the Bloody Mary cardigan and swatched for that. The swatches for that are actually at the top of the picture above, since I didn't keep track of the sections I knitted below it with the same size needles and had to re-knit them.  Another winner move.  But, things were looking up and I almost had guage with a size 7 needle and did have gauge with a size 8 needle.  Hooray! 

I was getting ready to go ahead and cast on with the size 8 needle, and that little annoying voice in the back of my head said, "You better wash that swatch.  If you are getting guage with a size 8, it's going to get bigger after you wash it. Remember that huge sweater you made that you love but is really way too big for you?  It's because you didn't do a swatch, started knitting the sweater, measured the guage a few inches in, and it was already too big, and you kept knitting anyway, then when you washed it, it became ginormous. So, really, you better wash it."
....I washed it. And the voice was right.  Once I washed it, the guage with the size 7 needle was now perfect and the size 8 was too big.  Now that I have all this definitive proof about the merits of swatching, I'm still probably not going to swatch often going to swatch all the time.

And now, I'm almost done with the 5 1/2 inches of 2 X 2 ribbing at the bottom on the back:
Here are some pictures from the Ravelry page:
In case you were wondering, the name is based on a cocktail.  The designer named a lot of her patterns after cocktails.  There is a cute one called Vodka Lemonade.  She is also the same designer of my Cranberry CapeletI like her stuff.

So, I promised you two easy as pie recipes.  By the way, I have no idea why they say "easy as pie".  I do not think  pie is easy to make.  Probably because I don't like it.

Recipe #1:
My mom passed along this one through the Facebook.
A 45 Second Oatmeal Cookie!  It is from The Wellness Maven blog, who go it from the Carrots 'N Cake blog who created it and calls it the 3 Minute Oatmeal Cookie.
It's a little tiny recipe that makes a healthy cookiesand is really quick to put together and cook in the microwave.

  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/8 cup liquid egg whites
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Mix everything together, put in a microwave safe bowl, flatten the mixture to the bottom of the bowl and microwave for 45 seconds.  I used chocolate chips instead of raisins.  Mmmmmm.
    Before cooking
    After cooking
    Since these are healthy, they are not the most amazing cookie you've ever had.   A little tough/chewy.  BUT, it's a darn good alternative to a whole package of oreos.  Or jelly beans.  Or peeps.  The few chocolate chips are just the thing it needs.

    Recipe #2:
    Crock Pot Chicken and Stuffing
    • 1 lb. chicken breasts
    • 6 oz box of Stove Top Stuffing
    • 1 10oz can cream of chicken soup
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    Put chicken in the crock pot.  Put dry stuffing mix on top. Mix soup and sour cream (I used half and half since I didn't have sour cream) and pour over the stuffing.  Cook on low for 4 hours.

    I know, doesn't look like much.  But it's yummy!
    So easy and really yummy.  I love my crock pot.

    I also promised you a book review!
    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: This was the 850 page book I started a couple of weeks ago.  I think it took me about a week and a half to read. It was good!  Not over-the-top good, but very entertaining and it kept me engaged.  I had seen some conflicting reviews on Goodreads but overall the reviews were positive.  I had been under the impression that this was an historical fiction book and quickly realized that it's a romance as well.  The story takes place in post WWII Scotland.  Claire, a former army nurse, is on a second honeymoon with her husband, when she visits a Stonehenge-type ruin and falls through a crack in one of the stones.... into the year 1743.  So now, she has a life and a husband in one century and a romance with a clansman in another century.  The storyline was engaging, with clan border wars, Claire needing to adapt to a much more primitive way of life, and her struggle to come to terms with this new romance.  In a way, it reminded me of a soap opera.... can't stop watching, wanting to know what happens next, and romance.  In case you need to be warned, there are some pretty graphic love scenes.  But they don't take over the whole book.  And also some graphic descriptions of torture and injuries -- I had to cover my eyes for some of those. 

    This is the first in a series of several books and I will likely read the next one some day.  It would be a good beach read.

    Whew.  That's it.  I'm off to work on Bloody Mary.  (Ugh- doesn't that sound awful?)

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    Houston, we've had some problems.

    Remember the last frantic post about all that knitting I had planned and ready to start immediately?

    Well, until today, I have knitted exactly 7 rows of my Harumi cardigan since then. That's it.

    First was the issue that my A Fine Fleece: Knitting with Handspun Yarns book with the Flyingdales pattern in it did not arrive on Friday. Or Saturday. Or Monday.  I guess I got a little excited, ignoring that the shipping information that said it would be delivered between March 8 and March 25.  That's crazy, but I figured since it was coming from Pennsylvania, it would get here by March 8.

    Then there was the issue that I realized the cover pattern for the other book I bought.... made with a bulky yarn, not worsted weight. Problem being that the only bulky yarn I have is Lamb's Pride Bulky, a very dense wool/mohair yarn which will make me incredibly HOT when I wear it. I know from whence I speak since I made my Heather Hoodie Vest with it and have only worn it once because I roasted it in. And it's only a VEST. No sleeves.  So I have to find a bulky yarn that is a little loftier/less dense and not a wool/mohair blend.  Ugh. I was trying to use my stash!

    Ooh wait! I did make some progress on my Meadowlark.
    Joined the left front to the back/neck.  It's a crazy picture.  You are looking at the back with an armhole on the left and the left front laid out flat-ish.  But, then I was at a "picking up" part that I didn't feel like doing so that got put down.

    And I only got 7 rows of my Harumi cardigan (mentioned above) done because of all the ridiculous/confusing/ complicated instructions involving adding repeats when you've increased a certain number if stitches. There are two different pattern repeats to keep track of, and 5 sections across the row, and some of these changes take place on the right side and some on the wrong side, and not on the same row. Oh! My brain just kept getting cramped and I may need a spreadsheet.

    Needless to say, I was feeling very unproductive on a weekend that I had time to be productive.  But then.... today came.  Good 'ol Tuesday.  A good recovery-after-a-Monday-day. Today, my book came!  So, tonight I will cast on for my Flyingdales.

    And today, during naptime, I worked on my afghan square.
    However, I did run into some snags with one of the charts.  I didn't seem to have enough stitches but I counted them and I did.  Then I looked at the chart and counted the squares - right above where it says "26 sts" across.... and there were 24.  Go ahead and count them if you like.  I looked at the pattern to see if I was missing some stitches that I was supposed to add in addition to the chart but no, not the case.  Then I looked at the chart on the original pattern.  Aha. I had copied the chart to blow it up since the one in the book was miniscule.  I thought to myself when I copied it, "Wow, I just nearly got the whole chart when I copied it."  I just needed to add the numbers down the left side.  Well, what I really did was get the whole chart, minus exactly two columns. The copy didn't even make a half a column to clue me in. Der.  At any rate, since it was Tuesday and not Monday, I didn't let it bother me and I'm on my way now.

    And soon, but not today, I will get the hang of the Harumi pattern and get that unfinished thing done in time to wear it for spring.  I hope.  It's cotton, so maybe on a cool summer night too....that would give me some extra time.

    So, Houston, we're back on track.  Next post:  a book review and two little easy as pie (but they aren't pie) recipes!

    Friday, March 8, 2013

    I'm in deep.

    I'm not quite ready to admit I'm over the edge, but I'm in deep.  I'm knitting 80 million things and I'm about to start another as long as the book comes in the mail today and I want to start even another one because of a book I had to get last night.

    First, I finished another afghan square from the Great American Afghan (#14):
    ...and just cast on for #10:
     I know, that picture doesn't tell you anything.  You can't see the square or the color of the yarn.  I'll get back to you on that one.

    In the meantime, I finally got out another of my unfinished projects, the Harumi Cardigan, and finally got the "hard" part going.  "Hard" meaning, putting stitches on holder, putting in markers and getting set up to work on the patterned part:
    And I've made some good progress on my Meadowlark vest:

    Then, there's this book I got last night:
    I love the cover pattern and want to knit it right now.  This book has been staring at me every time I've gone to The Spinning Room for the past very long time.  I just kept thinking that I have so many other patterns, surely there was another one I could  knit that I already have or that wouldn't cost so much.  But then, the other day my friend Jana emailed me a picture of this book saying"Just noticed this on the cover of an Ella Rae book & thought it looked like something you would wear. Maybe it's just because its purple..." Ha! No kidding. So, then I was at the shop last night to teach a class and there it was, just staring at me again. So I bought it. Thanks for being an enabler, Jana. (See you tonight for dinner!)

    But more than that sweater, I had totally forgotten that on the inside was this awesomeness:
    ....which I also want to knit right now.  It really is a sickness.

    But ALSO????? I've been trying to find a pattern to knit with this great aran yarn I got at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck:
    I wanted to do an "aran" sweater -- with lots of cables, but quickly realized this 1540 yards was not enough to do and all-over cabled sweater.  So, I found this:
    This is a project picture from Ravelry of the Flyingdales sweater.  I will modify it to make a crew neck collar.  It's got cables but also stockinette so I won't run out of yarn.  The pattern is only in A Fine Fleece: Knitting with Handspun Yarns which I got for a steal on Amazon.  It's coming in the mail today.  I hope.  Because I really don't have anything else to knit.  Ha.

    Do you need a project car update?  The doors are primered!:

    And finally, poor Phoebe has now become known as Phattie:
    She went to the vet last month since she seemed a little skinny.  It turned out she has a hyperactive thyroid so they put her on medicine.  We go back to the vet today for a follow up and I'm telling you, I think she's gained a pound and a half in a month.  Which is a lot for her since she was only 7 1/2 pounds to begin with.  They may need to tweak her medicine!