Monday, July 29, 2013

books Books BOOKS

Finally!  Some book reviews.  Two of the books below were audiobooks.  It's so different listening to a book.  Some of whether I like it or not has to do with the person narrating the book and whether or not I liked their voice or if I thought they did a good job.  But I like to listen on long car rides to pass the time.  Or while I'm knitting so I can do two things I love at once.  Do you listen to audiobooks? 

The Good House by Ann Leary:  Audiobook.  From Goodreads  "Ann Leary's The Good House tells the story of Hildy Good, who lives in a small town on Boston’s North Shore. Hildy is a successful real-estate broker, good neighbor, mother, and grandmother. She’s also a raging alcoholic. Hildy’s family held an intervention for her about a year before this story takes place—“if they invite you over for dinner, and it’s not a major holiday,” she advises “run for your life” — and now she feels lonely and unjustly persecuted. She has also fooled herself into thinking that moderation is the key to her drinking problem."   The story takes us through how she deals with this "moderation" and how it affects her life, family and friends.  It is at times sad and at times funny.   Plus, there is an element of small-town scandal in which she tries not to get involved.  Overall, I enjoyed the book.  The narrator was pretty good, and had a very distinctive voice, and I just can't help but wonder how I would have perceived certain things if I was reading the actual book.  I keep thinking of the narrator's voice when I think of the book. (Click down there to get on Amazon...)

The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg:  Another Audiobook.  From Goodreads: "For more than thirty years, Edie and Richard Middlestein shared a solid family life together in the suburbs of Chicago. But now things are splintering apart, for one reason, it seems: Edie's enormous girth. She's obsessed with food--thinking about it, eating it--and if she doesn't stop, she won't have much longer to live." The story is told alternately through Edie's eyes, as well as the eyes of Richard, her two children and her daughter-in-law, how her declining health affects them and how they try (or not) to help her.  I enjoyed this one too, however, could not stand Molly Ringwald's narration! Monotone and horribly "acted", especially in contrast to The Good House, whose narrator was good at acting out the parts and narrating.  Looking past the narration to the story, the writing was very good.   Sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, and very good at relaying each character's emotions.

The Heist Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg.  For this book, Janet has teamed up with the writer of the Monk tv series (which I loved and I'm sad it ended).  I've enjoyed Janet's Stephanie Plum series for many years, so I decided to try this, which is "the first adventure in an electrifying new series featuring an FBI agent who always gets her man, and a fearless con artist who lives for the chase."  Two more fun characters and a fun story line.  Action, adventure and lots of humor.  I found myself laughing out loud several times.  The FBI agent is, like Stephanie Plum, a flawed quirky woman who you can't help but route for.   Light and fun, and a quick read.

Long Gone by Alafair Burke:  Another exciting and suspenseful book.  Couldn't put it down at times, but at times wanted to put it down because I was getting worked up about the suspense.  Lots of twists and turns, making you try to guess what is going on.  Alafair's style is to switch gears/points-of-view/story lines in each chapter so that at first you are thinking, "How can these things be related?" but then you slowly realize, chapter by chapter, how they are terribly, horribly, unfortunately related.

Next post:  Spinning and knitting.... the Altamont Fair Spinning Bee is coming up! I know... the excitement is killing you, too.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Maine-ly Short Vacation

See how I did that with the title?  They do that all the time up there....  Mainely Meat BBQ (which we didn't go to), Mainely Vinyl (which we also didn't go to) etc.

So, we went to Maine for a long weekend last weekend and had a wonderfully relaxing time, although altogether too short for our liking.  We had a nice view of the water, so we spent a lot of time looking at it:

Had our usual fried and blueberry stuff:
Crab cakes and fish sandwich in
Wiscassett on the drive up

Blueberry beer
Blueberry soda, Fried shrimp and fish & chips
Then there was blueberry pie and blueberry cake and whoopee pies (not blueberry).

After all that.... we went for a loooooong walk!  We walked the carriage roads in Acadia National Park, around the top of Cadillac Mountain and across the low tide sand to Bar Island.  Ha! And I just realized those pictures are on Paul's phone.  I think I've just discovered a problem about us both having these new phones.  That's annoying.

Ooh and also, we went to Jordan Pond House for lunch and had their famous popovers which are so incredibly delicious with their strawberry jam and butter.  So of course:

And here we are nice and relaxed and rested:
....trying to figure out how to take our picture with the new smartphone with the function that you look at yourself on the screen so you know how it's going to come out.  It's harder than you think.

In Knitting News:
A better picture of one doodlebug's finished vest, while it is blocking, so you can see the pattern better:
Pattern is Sweaters and Slipover Vest.
Now that birthday knitting is behind me, I'm going to continue work on the Citron - I'm currently on a 642 stitches per row section.   And I'm slightly concerned I will run out of yarn.  Next task is to weigh what I have left and then determine if that gives me any information as to if I will run out!   Also going to finish the Oak Trail hat.  Stay tuned.

In Gardening News:
While we were away, squash bugs got my zucchini plants.  Full disclosure:  they were there before we left but I didn't know what they were.  I saw one or two.  Now, there are gagillions of them.  They seem to be way too overrun for me to do anything about them.  I was able to rescue two zucchini though and made this:
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs, 1/4 cup parm cheese, salt and pepper.  Toss slices with olive oil, coat with crumbs, top with leftover crumbs.  400 degrees for 25 minutes.  YUM!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Two cuties

Ready to give to my favorite doodlebugs at their second birthday party!  They are going to look so cute in them.

That's it for today.  Short and sweet.  Next post: Maine!

Thursday, July 18, 2013


546.  Five hundred forty-six. That's how many stitches are currently on each row of my Citron  project:
(matchbox cars are all the rage in the babysitting venue these days...)
Would you just LOOK at them all?
Oh. My. Gosh. It takes a loooong time to knit a row.  I have only brought this on myself since I decided to add two repeats to this pattern.  I had a lot more yarn than was needed and the project as it is ends up rather small.  So, why not make the most if the yarn I have as well as making it bigger, right?

And 546 won't be the largest number of stitches.  In the next, and last repeat, I will have 642 stitches on several rows.  Six hundred forty-two.  I already said I was a little bored knitting this and it may only get worse. On the positive side, except for 3 of the 20 rows I am repeating, this is very easy knitting and good for in front if the tv. So, on I will knit. And knit.  And knit.  And knit.....

Also, it is so hot here, we have resorted to this to keep the house cool:
I have to fix this sideways thing!! Anyone know how?
Reheating leftover pizza on the grill.  It worked tremendously - nice crisp crust!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Excavation extravaganzas

Recently the craft room has gone through an excavation and re-model - "after" pics to come soon - but that's nothing compared to the real excavation going on outside.  We are building a pole barn.  Or in other words:  a garage to hold Paul's cars.  I showed you the excavation that Paul and his brother did:
This is a trench for the essentials.  You know water and electric.  And apparently the other essentials - phone and cable.

Now we have this:
View from the house

View from the house

View on the other side, looking
toward the house.

View on the other side looking toward the house.
Check out that last picture.  Because our yard slopes, they had to build this end up six feet to make it level.  Crazypants.

Also, I made these Italian Meatball Sliders the other day:
Meatloaf mix, Italian sausage, other stuff, and basil on top.  YUM!

In Gardening News
Something is eating my cabbage:
But the tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant are going strong:

 And the green heron has been around a lot still. 
argh! --- sideways.  The heron is way
over there on the rock.
We saw it catching and eating a frog the other day.  Ewwwwwww!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The usual summer stuff

Paul and I did some of our usual summertime things this past weekend.  First, we went to see Spamalot at the Washington Park Playhouse:
This is my usual  picture of knitting-while-waiting-for-the-show-to-start-because-we-got-there-an-hour-and-a-half-early-because-I-get-obsessive-about-not-getting-a-good-seat.  Apparently other people do too, because there were A LOT of people already there when we got there.  It was a terrific show - hilarious!   See the below knitting update for what I'm knitting in this picture.

Then we went to the Brimfield antiques show where we got a few things:
That would be:
1) A dolly for a 55 gallon drum.  I don't even know if we have any of those...
2) A Buick hubcap from the 1940's.
3) A Murray pedal car for Paul to restore.  This was the best one we found - in working order with only one thing missing that we could see.  And which we don't know what it is.   There is simply a hole where something should go.  We need to research.
4) Not shown - because we didn't find any - a dress form and a head model, for me to display and take pictures of my knitting.

No pictures from while we were there since it was HOT and I didn't think about it.  And when I thought about it, it was raining.  We got away with no rain for about 3 hours but trudged around for another hour while it was raining on and off.  Good times.  Mostly.

Then, we drove up to Lake George to see the lake and get ice cream from Martha's Dandee Crème.  I would put some pictures here but I took them with my newfangled "smart" phone but I can't find them.  That's not smart.

In Knitting News
Pictures of my blocked Mystic Spiral:
This picture is the best representation of the true color.

Like you really need three pictures, right?  The one I took of me wearing it came out terrible, so I spared you.

While at Spamalot, I worked on my latest obsession, the Oak Trail hat from Alana Dakos' latest book, Botanical Knits.  Here's the picture again, because I forgot to get a better one (click on the link for the official pattern pic):

In Book News:
I'm gearing up to do some book reviews, I promise.  However, I must tell you that Goodreads has informed me that "At your current pace, you're 4 books (9%) behind schedule."  And by "informed me" I mean shouted it from the sidebar as I scrolled down the page when I went to my Goodreads homepage the other day.  To remind you, my goal is to read 45 books in 2013.  I have only read 20. ONLY.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Five years and nine months

Five years and nine months.  That's how long it took for the deer to find the hostas in the front yard:
If you look closely, you will see that the stems in the foreground have no buds on them.....  argh. 

So.  A closer look at our yard.  Remember this from the last post?:

 Paul and his brother digging trenches for the electrical wiring and water to go to the new garage.  They cut the phone wire, which Paul patched up.

This one is the beginning of the excavator's work for the garage site.  Our yard is going to be a huge muddy mess for a few months.  The excavator also cut the phone wire (in a different place), which the phone company will be coming to fix today.

In Knitting News:
I made this Mystic Sprial hat a while ago:
It's currently blocking with a plate in it.  That's what the instructions said to do in order to give it the right shape.  Another picture to come once it's dry.  I haven't shown it to you because I bound it off too tightly and it took me about a month and a half to shake off my annoyance and then take out the bind off and re-bind it off more loosely.  How annoying is it when you think you've finished this great new hat and then when you go to put it on the brim is too tight?  So annoying.  Cute hat though.  Probably an upcoming class for me to teach at The Spinning Room.

I can't remember if I told you I started a Citron shawl(ette):
I am on section 5 of 5.  Then there is a ruffled edge.  However, I have a lot more yarn and this shawlette is pretty small, so I'm going to add 2 more sections.  I'm getting to the point, though, where I'm getting a tiny bit tired of this project and knowing that it's "supposed" to be done soon is making me re-think if I want to make it bigger.  I keep thinking, "Maybe it won't be that small." or "Small could be better."  I'm trying really hard to overcome this.  Hopefully by the time I get to the last row of the section, I'll go right on to row 1 of the additional section and not cave in and got to row 1 of the ruffled edge.  Apparently it will depend on my mood at the time.

Here is the next pair of Travelling Socks that I'm sending on to Oregon:
Pretty funky looking but  that's pretty much the point of these socks!  I just received the next pair so those will be posted soon too.

And check out my sister-in-law Anita's sweater!
Isn't it great?!  I think it's her first sweater. I love the yoke pattern.  I forgot to ask her the name of the pattern....
I seem to be back in knitting mode and thinking of patterns to teach for classes this fall.  But I can't get any of that together until I get the craft room put back together.  That's on the list for today...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

More DIY.... and pizza.

Ok, so I lied at the end of my last post.  I said there would be book reviews.  But there are no book reviews in today's post.  I have finished some books but.....  well, there is no "but".  I just don't feel like writing about them yet!  So, instead, I'll tell you about this:

Last weekend, Paul and I made a trip  to IKEA for shelving for the craft room.  While we were in New Haven, we of course had to make a stop at Frank Pepe's Pizzeria on Wooster Street:
Mmmmmm.  The. Best. Pizza. EVER.  Hands down.  Bar none.  I wish wish wish wish wish WISH we had pizza like this here.  Sal's Pizza in Cooperstown (an hour from here) is close, but still just not the same. 

While Paul was at work the next day I tackled putting the shelf together by myself:
I looked and looked all over the garage, ransacking Paul's tool boxes for the lightweight hammer and rubber mallet, which would have been very helpful in putting this together.  I could only find the heavy hammer and a folded up cloth to protect the wood since I didn't have a rubber mallet......until I took this progress picture.  Check out what is laying on the desk at the top of this picture.   Lightweight hammer and rubber mallet.  Sitting there the whole time.  Putting the rest of the shelf together was much easier from here.

Stay tuned for an upright shelf, filled with all my yarn-y, knit-y, spin-y things.

Then, remember the windows in this picture?:
We got them at Brimfield in May 2012.  So, finally, over a year later, we did this with them:
Paul cleaned them up and painted them.  Someday, added to our long list of household projects, we will put real windows there. And built-in bookshelves underneath them.

Finally, this lone lily bloom:

Oh, and this:

Saturday, July 6, 2013

July 4th Celebrating

Some hamburgers, hotdogs and potato salad.  And some fireworks:
....courtesy of our neighbors who do this every year (and throughout the summer) so we just sit on our deck and enjoy.

In the middle of the pond...
In the yard...
....courtesy of Paul's brother, John, who brought these from Virginia.

Lots of fun!