Teatime and crafting overload

First off, I had a MASSIVE realization this week.  For me, it’s potentially epic.

Fifteen years ago I was in an exchange program to Austria.  When I was there I stayed for a little while with a really awesome family.  Actually, I stayed with three pretty awesome families but, in this case, I’m talking about the one in the middle of my exchange.  They took me to a family party; I can’t remember the reason for the party, there may not have been one.  What I do remember though was the amazingly super sweet grandmother.  The party was at her house and I sat beside of her during lunch.  We chatted as best we could with my very limited German and her limited English.  After food, she asked if I’d like some tea.

I. LOVE. TEA.  I used to steal sips of my Granny Boo’s tea when I was a toddler.  I’m also ridiculously picky about it for somebody that loves it so much; I only really like black tea, don’t really like added flavors at all, and I drink it straight.  If I’m feeling sick, I’ll throw in a spoon of honey but that’s really the only exception.  Of course I took her up on the offer for tea!  I was stoked to have a hot cuppa in the middle of the day.

While she was inside brewing it, her son told me I was brave because nobody else dared to drink tea with her.  This is a guy that took me to a pub so I could win him some free beers by hammering nails into a log with the sharp end of a hatchet…and he wouldn’t drink tea with his mother.  She seemed very excited when I accepted the offer because she got to brew an entire pot instead of just enough for her.

She brought out a pot of tea so black that my first thought was maybe she mixed up the words for tea and coffee…but tea is tee so surely neither of us bumbled that one up.  It was so strong and so bitter and absolutely amazing.  We finished off the pot in no time.  She was elated to have a tea drinking buddy and I’ve been on the search for that tea ever since.  I’ve bought the strongest teas my local shop offers.  I’ve asked for the strongest teas at the amazing tea and crepes place over in Massachusetts; I even drink their samovar teas without dilution.  Nothing is quite the same.

Which is where my realization came in this week.  She of course spoke English with an accent and I had always thought she’d said it was a type of Russian tea.  She didn’t know a brand, just a type.  Now, I think I misunderstood her years ago.  I think what she actually said was it was a Frisian tea….which, honestly, makes a lot more sense considering the locale and could’ve easily been muddled by accent and my own ignorance.  I’ve done a bit of research and think I’ve hit the spot — she did, after all, have rock sugar for it and it’s the only tea I’ve ever drank that was strong enough for me to at least try adding some sweetness on the second cup.

So long story short, I’ve placed an order for some East Frisian tea and am anxiously awaiting its arrival.  If it’s still not the same, I’ll continue my search and will still enjoy the black tea!

…and in other news, crafting insanity is full swing here.

I think I’m up to my eyeballs.  Not complaining!  I’m super excited!  I had such a crafting doldrums last year this it’s nice to feel excited about stuff again.

I altered the pajamas pattern and have been churning out pairs.  They’re not hilarious fleece skinny jeans any longer and are quite comfy.  Hubs wants additional pairs and has also asked that I make him a fleece shirt to match at least one pair.  I ordered some fleece from Joann’s holiday clearance when it was 1.50 a yard so at least they’re affordable jammies!  I’m sure it’ll be a circus when it arrives and I start bashing my head against the wall to figure out a shirt.  I still have to hem and elastic the new “original” pair for me, then I can consider that UFO finished. 🙂

…and the big dog has now taken over the pajama flop from the first attempt.  He’s uncrossed the legs and lies between them with his head on the “lap”, just like he does when one of us gets on the floor with him.  It’s kind of funny to watch the dogs wrangle the legs around.

I’ve had the amigurumi itch for a little bit so bit and bought one pattern and am also eyeing a free one.

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The above is the pattern I bought from lalylala on etsy (and also her photo, but I’ll have my own soon enough!).  I mean, seriously, it made me want to stab my eyeballs out it was so cute.  I have the stuff to make it as well, I’m just trying to behave and put it off until I finish another UFO.

The free one I want to make is from Amigurumi Today….and is also a cow. Here’s their photo:

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I’m a big fan of not the most typical stuff, though I’ve seen some of them grow in popularity lately which is AWESOME!  I love gnomes, alpacas and llamas, rhinos and unicorns and narwhals, fauns/satyrs, and cows and cats.  I had a llama shirt when I was about 5, so these aren’t new developments.  I’m sure there are some other weird things I’m mildly in love to full on obsessed with (sometimes bumble bees make an appearance).

So getting back to other things, I’m still working on the monarch mittens.  I didn’t forget you, UFO list!  They’re slow going since I’m at four colors and full on intarsia in the round.  I still think they’re fun, albeit fiddly when I have to untangle everything.  They’ll get done eventually….hopefully sooner than later!

I’ve also got the stuff cut and ready to start making the rugs (#11 on my list).  I think I might clear off my ironing board, currently a “wtf do I do with this” pile, and see if I can churn one of them out tomorrow.  I have two to make.

…and I’m horribly naughty and joined a Row Along from Fandom in Stitches.  It was only a matter of time and I knew I was going to hop on this ship as soon as it was announced last year.  It’s Star Trek.  Seriously, how could I not?!  The designers posted a sneak peak of the photo today on their designer page (I’m only there because many moons ago I made a Captain Hammer block for the site) and oh lawdy, I’m excited.  Hubs saw it the mock-up and has already claimed it as his.  He said I already have my Spock quilt, so it’s only fair he gets a Trek one too.

I also practiced working with vinyl a bit.

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It’s now hanging above my kitchen sink.  I can’t resist being snarky and crass at times. 😀

…and don’t worry, it’s not cast iron!  Somebody gave it to me as a Christmas gift years ago with a little brownie mix.  I have an induction stove and this little pan isn’t magnetic enough to work on it, so definitely not real cast iron.  I didn’t know what to do with it until this week.

When I craft, I have massive attention span problems.  I’ll get all of this done eventually!  So long as I stick to having at least one UFO on the needles/hooks/etc. I’m still good with my goal from the beginning of the year.

 

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Pineapple and puppers

The hubs made a cake today.  It’s the second one he’s ever made.  The first was a German chocolate with the icing mixed into the batter.  That particular recipe always cracks me up because my Grandmother gave it to me but she can’t ever get it to work out when she tries, so she makes a strawberry one with that mix in method instead.

Speaking of Grandmother, my uncle sent me a photo of her with her Christmas present I made!

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What was a tiny little lap quilt size for my tall self completely swallows her up.  We also just got back our genetic results.  I’m 22.1% her; I’ll take that.

So back to the cake!  It was an adventure but he didn’t do too badly other than thinking he needed to add flour to the cake mix.  We’re starting him slow here.

He’d never had a pineapple upside down cake and saw one on the Great British Baking Show.  I’m not sure how he’s lived this long without one of these cakes considering how much loves pineapple and cherries but he was very, very pleased with it.

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I also found the mysteriously disappearing bag of polyfill!  I had vacuum packed it so slender that it was UNDER the wardrobe.  There’s barely even room for my hand there…and of course, the seal had came loose because the bags are horrible.  That was a real adventure in freeing something.

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Ignore my super dirty floor — the big dog is in a midst of an epic winter blowout and I’ve had a migraine for two days so am not firing up the vacuum right now.

Little dog doesn’t mind the dirty floor and immediately claimed the overstuffed pants as her new pillow, just as I’d hoped.  As much as I love that bratty furball, my lap is really glad to have a small break from her — she’s only shifted a bit to settle into the criss-cross part of the “lap” since it was given to her.

Food and crafts

For Christmas, my hubs gave me a cast iron pan that I’ve been asking for every year since we’ve lived together. FINALLY!!!  I think I’ve used it every day since I opened it.  🙂

The pan is for æbleskiver but we’ve had a lot of round food the past week.  My hubs even made a comment about all of his food being ball-shaped today.  Sorry, not sorry.

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He’s honestly been pretty excited about the food since he posted the above æbleskiver on his Facebook page yesterday.  It’s probably the most traditional thing I’ve flipped out of the pan (I’ve even been making round eggs in it this week) — buttermilk dough with apple slices inside, topped with some apple butter I made in the fall and a simple cinnamon whipped cream.  He was eating them as soon as they came out of the pan and just smearing them through everything….and has already asked for them again.  That was the only pretty-ish one since I presented it to him as a taster to make sure the batter was well balanced.

Hubs likes to be a jerk and post food photos often.  I think he does it because it generates comments at his work.  I made a beef wellington for Christmas and cleared the fridge a few days ago to make impromptu tuna cups…I don’t think any of the food is particularly pretty but I guess everybody has to eat so can relate somewhat?  He didn’t bother slowing down on his steak tonight (made his favorite coffee, cocoa, and cayenne rub) to take a photo.

Crafting wise:

“I’d like to work as much as possible out of my stash this year”  — says the person that has made a crafting purchase every. single. day. of. 2019. thus. far.

Tuesday I ordered precut batting so I can knock #11 off the list.  I have lots of batting at home but let’s be honest…the whole reason I haven’t done that one already is because I didn’t want to have to wrestle with the roll of batting to cut that many strips of it.  It’s huge and unweidly and my rotary cutter would need a new blade after that and it’d take a month to get all the fuzzies out of my self-healing mat.  If I need something to finish these projects, I’m all in.  Luckily, it was on clearance so I don’t feel bad about saving myself the headache.

Yesterday was a crochet pattern. I think I audibly squealed when I saw it.  It’s the Flying Saucer by lalylala.  I absolutely cannot WAIT to make this one!!!  It’ll be the first amigurumi I’ve made that I’m keeping.  I’m super excited.  It’s my kind of nerdy kitsch.

Today I caved and ordered some cork fabric.  I’ve been wanting some for quite a few years but haven’t been able to justify it for anything.  I’m going to use it to make a notebook cover because I’ve found that I never, ever want to use my cute notebooks!  This way, I can get plain composition books and cover it with something pretty and sparkly and actually use them.  I hope there will be enough left overs to use as wallet detail or something.  If not, I’m just happy to finally get my grubby paws on cork.  I love the way it feels!

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Doesn’t that cork look absolutely scrummy?!?!  It’s from the seller’s photos but it’s miiine now!  It won’t be here for a while so it’ll be nice having something fun to look forward to.

At least I’m keeping up with my UFO checklist, which was my main goal!  I’ve never been good at goals.  😀

I finished #7 today.  I’m also bad at following numerical order.  It’s drying on the my blocking boards now!

The pattern was Spider Lattice Scarf, free on Ravelry.  I’ll try to remember to snap a photo tomorrow, since it’s my first finish of 2019!

It’s easy and straightforward to make.  I had it memorized by the second repeat.  I do think there’s an error in the pattern at the end — it says to stop on row 8 but the final row doesn’t match in if that’s the case.  I ended up having to go back and add row 9 again for it to work.

When I pull the scarf off, I’ll finally block my Sheherazade scarf.  I’ve been putting it off because I like to procrastinate good things and enjoy them as much as possible.  I loved the pattern the whole way through but it was a sweet, sweet feeling making that last bindoff stitch!

 

Knitting and baking

The MKAL was released two days ago and I started it, finished chart one (she released four for the first round), then ripped it all out.

Why?  I got into a groove and started knitting the pattern for the other shawl I’m finishing up.   …I think that means I need to finish it before merrily starting the other again and having another epic brain fart.

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I have 24 rows across two charts left still because I knit slower than molasses in winter.  You can see the lacy edge is starting to take shape, though!  I’m really excited about finishing this one up!

I really love the alpaca yarn from just working with it briefly yesterday.  It’s super soft and fuzzy (which will probably drive me nuts before this is all over).

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I had to spend my knitting time on Friday coloring in the MKAL charts.  D’oh.  I only have a black and white printer and, of course, it’s a color pattern.  I mark all over my knitting patterns so just reading it on my screen will never do.

…and, sadly, those gorgeous topaz beads…there aren’t enough for the project.  I talked to the company I got them from and the importers no longer sell them either…the lady said they were trying to get some from another Japanese brand in a similar color but I decided it was safer to swap up the colors a bit.  My other tube of red beads is on backorder and they said they’ll ship out some dark topaz ones for me at the same time.  I hope they match the really bizarre shades that make up my yarn.

Sunday is the day I make up food for the week for the hubs.  I think this week was a home run.  I stole this from his facebook page because it made me guffaw when I read it:

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I wish he was as enthusiastic about me as he is about the food I make.  XD

He posts a lot of the food I make because, apparently, people at work come to see him the next day to investigate the food.  He really loves attention from semi-random people and eating, so he gets a two-for-one deal.

…and that’s leading to a rant.

The ONE thing the drives me nuts about hubs posting food is we have one friend who always asks for the recipe.  If I used a recipe, I’ll gladly share it…but that’s rarely the case.  Most of our food is cooking what we have on hand and making a “mess” out of it.

Backstory: my Grandmother unleashed me into the world of cooking because I would go to her house and literally make a mess in her kitchen.  Whatever I could combine I would.  I would look for things that tasted weirdly good together and found a lot of things that just don’t work.  My sister (and sometimes cousins) would be my tasters….there’s no way my sister would’ve came back for more if I was always putting together gross stuff.  On that same note,  hubs (stupidly) challenged me to make him puke with a dish years ago and I succeeded with just three ingredients: horseradish, orange juice, and peanut butter…it even smells revolting enough to make you gag.  I’m fairly comfortable with figuring out how flavors work and we make a lot of fridge-clearing messes here.  🙂

So when this friend asks, I have to sit and think about how on earth to explain it to her in a way that she could reproduce.  I’m one of those crazy people that LOVES to cook.  I live in bagel central and I’m here at home making my own.  It’s insane but I really do enjoy every bit of it, so I don’t shy away from more complicated ideas.

…and then it’s made harder because we have some downright amazing grocery options.  I mean, I go to a real butcher where I can get things like silkie chicken and pork blood!   (Don’t question pork blood until you’ve had black pudding, I love that stuff…never made it, but love it.)  I cook with a lot of things that simply aren’t available where she lives.  I’d know, I lived there for 21 years.  When my mom visits, she brings an empty cooler so she can take all kinds of goodies and ingredients back with her.  It’s a food wasteland there.

Plus, let’s be honest, this friend is never, ever going to make anything I post.

Why do I say that?  A bit of a throwback:  I introduced her family to sushi a decade ago after I’d already moved away.  Her daughter wanted to try it, there was nowhere anywhere nearby that made it, and I adore the kid — she’s the sweetest creature to ever grace the earth — so I stopped at a huge world market several hours away and got the stuff to make a small assortment of sushi.  Just to make sure they’d have something to eat if they didn’t like the food (which they did, the kid even asked if she could keep the leftover eel for her lunch the next day), I also conspired with the little to show her how to make a really simple sweet and sour chicken.  She wanted to surprise our moms with a full dinner when they came back from their night out…didn’t I say she was the sweetest kid ever?

When we turned on the eye of the stove to start the chicken, the entire house flooded with a disgusting, acrid, black smoke.  It was so bad we had to throw open the windows in the middle of winter and leave the house.  Her mom had melted a plastic bowl onto the burner MONTHS ago and never cleaned it up…that’s how rarely she cooked.

Soooo fairly confident that the friend that always asks for recipes, thus making me rack my brain to come up with ingredients and substitutions and ways to simplify things, will never make a bloomin’ thing.  Is it wrong that it bugs the snot out of me when she asks?

September Summary + Tons of Photos

I blinked and September was gone.

The hubs and I left at the end of August to go do our big, annual migration south.

Not wanting us to forget home, this was on our front stoop while we were packing:

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The frog was still coherent and walking around, dragging the snake with him.  The snake was refusing to let go.  The frog had sustained some pretty gnarly injuries by that point so I figure he lost in the end and hope the snake was able to enjoy his meal.  Our plumber calls our home a house of horrors because of the wildlife (and random cats jumping from the ceiling while he’s working).  I really like having the critters around.  Yes, especially the snakes because they are masters of pest control.  I didn’t like it when one of the cats brought a live snake into the house though.  I could’ve gone without that adventure.

For the first leg of our trip, we stayed in a hand-built cabin with some friends in the mountains of North Carolina.  It’s gorgeous there.

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There were seven of us in total.   …and the first night, the well pump died.

Seven of us for a week without any running water.  Using the toilet was interesting and showering was unheard of.  There is a hot tub and it rapidly became our nightly ritual: bathing with friends in highly chlorinated water.  We’re pretty sure that by the end of our stay, it was more of a people broth.

We did try to keep our gross levels down.  We didn’t go fishing like we normally do or get overly sweaty.  The one hike we took ended at a waterfall, so you can be sure everybody was in the water and trying to scrub clean.

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Our friends eventually had to go back to their real lives but hubs and I chose to stay at the cabin for a few extra days rather than adventure onward.  Still no water, but it’s hard to argue with a real chance to relax.

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…except when a herd of deer walked up to me and scared the hell out of me.  I was sure I was about to get kicked but thankfully I startled them just as much and they ran off.

Before leaving NC, we spent the last day gem mining.  That area is really replete with all kinds of neat things.

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That’s my personal jackpot: a 298.5 carat emerald!  It’s obviously not gem quality so not worth much but I was over the moon.  How cool is that?!

When we did finally decide to leave the mountains, we went to visit hub’s grandmother in Alabama.  She has dementia now (and she’s about to turn 93, so it’s well deserved) but we always enjoy getting to see her.  She’s a little firecracker and even though she doesn’t remember we visited, she knows we’re there when we’re there…and maybe she remembers more than we think because she’s never forgotten who we are, including me, even though she doesn’t recognize some of her own family.

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This visit, she taught us how she and her husband used to dance back in the 1940s.  She still loves dancing!

After our day in Alabama, we ventured over to Atlanta to kick off our real agenda: ProgPower USA!  It’s nice having a music festival that allows us to see everybody.

Some of the highlights from the festival this year:

Pictured are Gloryhammer, Cellar Darling, Vuur, Sons of Apollo, Manimal, Bloodbound, Oceans of Slumber, and the queen of metal herself, Doro.  There were twenty bands total but those were my favorites.

Gloryhammer is one of hub’s favorite bands and he got right up front for their show — you can see him in a photo, hoisting a hammer.  The band later took that hammer, hit him with it a few times, hit each other with it even more, then signed it for him.  He was thrilled.

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If you know what he looks like, hubs can be spotted in every photo with a crowd.  He really spent a lot of time on the floor this year and I camped our favorite seats for when he was too exhausted to carry on.

We also ran into Manimal in the lobby and they (for some reason) agreed to let hubs pretend he was one of them.

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…but the best show in my opinion was Alestorm.  They didn’t put on a show, they put on a party.  People were dressed like pirates and waving around plastic swords.  A few people had bubble machines in the audience.  They hoisted the huge rubber ducky out into the crowd for us to bounce around then destroy like zombies.  There was even rapping shark.

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…and they were, of course, super hilarious and friendly.

They also signed my pirate ducky!  The drummer, of course, insisted that he was going to sign its butt.  I’ve had this ducky for over a decade and now it’s even more precious to me.

After four days of festival, we went further down in Georgia and spent a few days with a friend.  Then we headed back to North Carolina and caught the Judas Priest and Deep Purple concert with some of my family.  We saw 23 bands that week!  Crazy!

…and then hubs and I parted ways.  He had to recruit at his alma mater for work and I had to go to where I grew up and spend time with my family.

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A few cool things happened while there.  Mom and I went to a local museum and I FINALLY found out what the heavy old rock was that my dad and I dug up out of our garden when I was little.

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I kept it because it’s insanely heavy for its size and was oddly shaped with some neat striation.  Even little me knew it would be interesting.  I’d always wondered what it was — especially since we regularly dug up arrow heads and all sorts of other fun things.  Turns out, it’s a kettle ball.

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I also visited my hair dresser.  Is it weird that I’ve only ever been to the same person?  She’s awesome, my hair is crazy, and it’s worth the wait between visits.

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I also saw some family.  I, of course, hung out with my Grandmother as much as I could.  She’s still a spry 84 and we had fun going out shopping and for Chinese.  I went to a party with a lot of my mom’s family that I haven’t seen in forever.  Hubs was able to join us for that party and he found it hilarious how aggressive a bunch of old, toothless hillbillies got over croquet.  >_>;  I was also asked to be the matron of honor in a wedding next year.  Guess I’m going to stay busy for the next few months.

…and on my greedy side, I got a sewing machine!

My aunt had been storing them in an old sea crate so they were in absolutely horrible condition.  I was able to check on my Granny Boo’s (mom’s mother) machine and I already have an identical model but mine was made in 1900 and the serial number on hers was from 1910.  Singer 66 machines are great but I only need so many and since I already had the one with Sphinx decals (and in much better shape, sadly), I chose to take home my Granny Sally’s (Granny Boo’s mother) machine.

I didn’t even know what it was, just that I didn’t have anything that looked like the outside.  The cabinet was solid oak and a chain lift.  The chain lift was rusted shut, as were the hinges.  Add in the warped wood from being in wet conditions for several years and it took me over a week to ease the new baby open.

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I brought the head home with me and mom is bringing me the treadle cabinet up at the end of this month when she and her husband are coming here for a concert.

I’ve never used a Davis VF before but I’m pretty excited.  The finish is crackled but I’ll see what I can do about getting her shined up again.  I did get all of the mechanisms to move so she’ll sew.  These models are really interesting, as there aren’t any feed dogs — the presser foot is what moves to advance the fabric.

…and then we got to come home.

Just in time for my favorite fall activity: apple picking!

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The trees were absolutely laden with apples this year.  I had already picked a bushel from this tree and you can’t even tell it.

All of those apples were quickly processed down in what hubs calls my “factory”.  Most of them were turned into applesauce then apple butter.  I love me some apple butter and I was on my last jar!

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…and of course it wouldn’t be fall without some apple cider donuts.  I made my own this year and hubs claims to like them even better than the ones he gets at the orchard.  I’ll call that a win!

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Tea plea

I’m easily sidetracked.  I finished the number of repeats required of the body lace charts in my shawl and decided I wanted a few more to make it bigger.  I can’t do one thing at once, so while I was contemplating how many more repeats I wanted, I was scrolling through facebook and saw one of those simple “about me” type of things.  Easy enough!  More distractions!

…but seriously, in regards to the last question thing:  if you have a black tea you’d recommend, please let me know.  I had the PERFECT cup of black tea when I was in Austria — some sweet old lady made it for me while I was visiting her home.  She said nobody else would ever drink tea with her because she liked it so dark.  The tea came out darker than coffee.  It was black, crazy strong, and so, so dry.  I loved it.  She just called it Russian tea and I’ve been on the search for something like it ever since, scouring all of the tea places around (especially the Ukrainian one over in Springfield, MA) but no luck so far.

3 places I have lived:
1. The Appalachian* Mountains in VA — seriously, the “town” has a population density of 11 people per square mile…if I named the town, anybody from the surrounding counties and across the state line would be able to figure out everything about me 😛
2. Atlanta, GA
3. Albany, NY

4 jobs I have had:
1. Farm hand
2. Babysitter
3. Tech support
4. Lowe’s commercial sales cashier

5 favorite shows/movies I love to watch:
1. Star Trek
2. Trollhunters
3. The Nightmare Before Christmas
4. Sherlock
5. Peaky Blinders

4 places I’d like to visit that I have never been before:
1. Antarctica
2. Iceland
3. New Zealand
4. Costa Rica

5 things I love to eat:
1. Country ham
2. White peaches
3. Dill pickles
4. Biscuits and gravy
5. Steak

5 Favorite Drinks:
1. Coca-Cola
2. Blenheim ginger ale (hot)
3. Vernors
4. Black tea
5. Ice Water

 

*I just wanted to throw out there that it’s app-a-latch-en, not app-a-lay-shun.  That’s very important.  I’ve always thought that Sharyn McCrumb (an author local to my region) explained it best.  I saw the sign below when I was in Northern Ireland last year and I had to grab a photo since it was so relevant.20232665_864192924219_7061932475770452448_o.jpg

Sideways photos because…who knows

Anybody else ever manage to lose a crochet hook under your recliner?

Mine fell off the table yesterday and no amount of searching and flashlights has revealed it…and that room doesn’t have many places it could’ve rolled or hidden.  *grumbles*

As promised a few days ago: photos!

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I need to weave in the tails but they’re done otherwise.  One is sized for a preemie and the other is a bit over-sized and super stretchy for babies in the NICU that may have bigger noggins.  My sister was born with all of her sutures closed and wore a helmet after a surgery to open them, I don’t know if there will be any babies with similar issues, but maybe a few different sizes will be needed.  I’ll do any more to fit a more typical/expected head size.

Next is the beaded scarf I’m working on.  It’s still boring as all get out now that I’m past beading this size but it’ll get done while watching movies eventually.

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…and then the shawl.  I finished the third set of body repeats today.  Leave it up to me, if I forget to put a lifeline in every two rows, I end up having to rip back.  I’m nothing if not consistent.

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At this point I have the pattern memorized so it’s not taking much of my attention, other than making sure I just pick up one of those tiny laceweight loops instead of two.  I’m still really enjoying it and am determined to learn how to pick up a dropped lace stitch — the life lines are getting annoying…but better safe than sorry.

This weekend was pretty productive.  I slept a lot and picked up some concert tickets.  I consider that a proper weekend!  Only 31 bands left to see this year.  I may go to a lot of concerts.  😀  18 weeks (ish, I may be wrong) are left in the year, so that’s a pretty good average!

Finally, I went to my favorite place this weekend — Asian Supermarket.  I like going when it’s nice and empty (which is hard) because they have soooo much more variety in fresh goods and I like to take my time and sift through the aisles of it.  I always limit myself to a hand basket of stuff, otherwise I could probably buy the whole store (other than the live turtles to eat…and the fishballs, didn’t like those).

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I’m starting to get a bit brand loyal.  I’ve found I like the Vietnamese “Three Ladies Brand” rice paper for fresh wraps — they hold up so much better than others I’ve tried.  I’ve also become a huge fan of anything Lee Kum Kee from Hong Kong.  I could eat that sweet soy sauce on everything!  I mostly got essentials to restock our dwindling pantry and a few really beautiful produce items needed this week.  Logan wanted some pork buns (I’m partial to red bean buns myself) made at the store — they’re much better than anything pre-prepared.  He also wanted to try fresh dates since dried ones are some of his favorite treats; he likes the fresh just as much.  Other than that, I don’t think anything too unusual came home with us, though the long beans don’t fit in our crisper, so hang out like creepy fingers off of a shelf.  They’ll be devoured tomorrow with a meatloaf (or should I do a ramen since I have fresh noodles now?!)

Decisions, decisions!

Shopping habits

-edit-  Writing this post made me realize that not only am I a weird adult, but I’ve always been weird.  …and not just a little weird, either…but super weird.  It’s a wonder that I ever had friends or found a man crazy enough to marry me.  Then again, Logan is about as weird as they come, so there’s that. -edit-

 

I’ve also been haunting winter clearance sales in my few clothes shopping sprees the last little bit.  I very, very rarely buy clothes.  I don’t like trying clothes on and I usually just lounge in my pajamas at home.  If I put on real pants, the dogs get super excited.  They think they’re going on a roadtrip!  Chances are I’m just going to the mailbox (or not, I’ll wear my pajamas there too) or grocery shopping, which means the only place the dogs actually get to go is to their crates.  Sorry dogs!

I hate going to shopping unless food is involved.  Shopping in general is akin to torture.  I do, however, have to replace clothes that wear out and I have a handful of stores that I’ve found stock clothes that I don’t mind wearing.

My taste in clothing really hasn’t changed much since I’ve been able to voice an opinion about what I wear — I’ve always loved notions, so if it had ribbons, zippers, and buttons, sign me up!

Even though I loved jelly shoes as a toddler, the first pair of shoes I remember actively choosing had ribbons at the toes that you could swap out.  That ribbon thing really was pervasive.  I learned to tie my own shoes really young because I wanted boots.  After that, if I could find granny boots, that’s what I would insist on for my back to school shoes — we got one new pair of shoes a year and I’d search everywhere for shoes that most other kids would rather die before wearing.

I was the 2nd grader in gym class that took forever because she had to lace up her blue suede granny boots.  Yah, you read that right:  Blue. Suede. Granny. Boots.  My Dad may was an Elvis fan and I thought they were extra great.  I later had magenta-ish purple leather boots that I had to polish every night along with my Dad’s work boots (I volunteered).  I loved those boots.  My wedding shoes?  Victorian style lace granny boots.  Even now, if I have a clothing vice, it’s shoes.  If I’m feeling sad, I throw on a pair of 4-inch bitchin’ heels and do my housework in them.  You’d be surprised how much it brightens my day to stomp around in something pretty with a vacuum in tow.

Consistently weird shoe choices aside, once I was old enough for my parents to start letting me choose my own clothes (around 6th grade) my Mom immediately complained that all of my clothing was gray, navy, or black.  She then tried to inject some color back into my life.  That was the year one of my classmates told her she looked like the Pink Panther for one of her BRIGHT pink outfits she was wearing.

She was marginally successful at the time but only because brand names were becoming important to kids at that age and, unfortunately, the late 90s were an era of Pacific Sun and Aeropostale where I grew up.  The rainbow barfed on everything at that point and butterfly hairclips were a thing.  It was an age of horror that I mostly avoided because I always liked darker jewel tones and things that weren’t pink and super frilly (Carebears and My Little Pony aside).  Mom still tries to throw color my way, though I’m not sure how well that works out.  Why’s that?

First a bit of a diversion!  I keep incredibly anal records of all of our purchases for budgeting reasons and just evaluated all of my clothing acquisitions in the past twelve months to see how much we spent.  Clothing is the one area I truly have no idea how much we spend since it’s spread out on replacement basis and sporadic entertainment.  Turns out almost all of the money spent on clothing goes to band t-shirts at concerts (we’re seeing 39 shows this year and while we won’t buy shirts for every band, we’ll buy quite a few and they’re usually about $20 each) and for Logan’s work shoes (I swear he eats those with his daily two mile work from where he parks).

$700 over the past year, as it would turn out, for the both of us.  $58 a month on average for clothes surprised me but about $200 of that was in Logan’s work shoes alone.  The biggest expense overall was concert t-shirts.

My entire total was $249.11.  Logan is our clothing whore!  That makes me feel better! 😀

So back to the color infusion.  Mom still buys me clothes when she sees something on sale that she thinks I may like.  It’s usually bright and colorful and some crazy print but in the right style.  I’ll wear it ’cause I’m an adult and who cares?

However, left to my own devices, in the past year I bought: two concert t-shirts (Progpower USA and Orphaned Land), a shirt, a sweater, a dress, a cardigan, a pair of fleece-lined leggings, a pair of shorts, a pair of jeans, and a pair of tights….plus three pairs of shoes I bought myself for Christmas ’cause I’ve bought myself something every year since the year Logan forgot both my birthday AND Christmas, just in case.

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Yah…  Every single item has ended up being black and it was completely unintentional.  Color injection fail!  There are also an insane amount of ribbons and buttons going on, so some things never change.  I think little me would be proud of old me for a change.  😀

I guess my hair will have to be the pop of color in my wardrobe for now?

In other shopping news:

KnitPicks is discontinuing another of my favorite yarns.  *cries*

I really hate when they do this.  There aren’t many places I can find lighter weight yarns, much less ones I just want to pet all the time, and Preciosa Tonal Fingering is definitely one of those.  I was horrible and finally caved and bought one of each of what they had left yesterday morning, so got 9 colors.  Each hank has more than enough to make a hat or a pair of gloves, so that’s probably what everybody will be getting for Christmas this year.  😛

…and I’ve come to the conclusion (again) that I shouldn’t take my husband grocery shopping with me.

Especially not when I go to the Asian Supermarket.  <– that’s what it’s called, I’m not being that kind of weird or anything.  😛

I wanted to pop in last night to grab a handful of items that we’re low on or completely out of.  My list was pretty basic:  mirin, miso, tahini, gochujang (Logan has literally started eating it by the spoonful out of the tub so it doesn’t last long here), rice cakes, spring roll wrappers (the type you can fry), and my favorite sweet soy sauce.  I’m pretty brand loyal by now — mistakes can be super gross — and know where the things I want are in the store, so it shouldn’t have taken long.

We popped in super late so the seafood and butcher counters were closed — small blessing or I would’ve probably ended up with something alive in my fridge again — and the only crowd that was there was waiting for the night bus to NYC, so the store was empty for the first time ever.  It was a magical experience that led to Logan grabbing a basket and gleefully running through the store.  He ended up buying over $70 worth of items, mostly sauces and random vegetables that he insisted I can cook for him.   X_x

It shouldn’t be too bad, most I’m familiar with already and the others look fun.  Some things he just grabbed because he already knows he loves them so we’re going to be seeing another week of baby bok choy and exploring his newly discovered love of enoki mushrooms.  Adventure awaits!

My one impulse buy was a gallon of rice vinegar.  It’s 11 cents an ounce when you buy it by the gallon.  It’s 29 cents an ounce at our regular grocery store.  Bargain!  Logan thinks I’ll have some left for the summer so I can make him more chive blossom vinegar.  I don’t think that will be the case.  He puts rice vinegar on every reasonable thing he can and a lot of things that make me green around the gills to think about and I’m the one that can drink vinegar.  Plus, I cook with the stuff.  I don’t think he realizes how often I have to buy it or how many bottles I keep in reserve in our basement pantry when it goes on sale.  😛  It’s not like it’s a rare, precious item anyway, I’m always up for an excuse to go back to my favorite grocery stores.

My only wish now is that I could find a tasty Thai type spicy, sweet, and sour dipping sauce — you know the bright orangish-pinkish, super runny and yummy sauce that’s often served with crispy spring rolls?

Anybody have any brand recommendations or a recipe?

Everything I’ve tried in store so far has been completely disgusting and so sweet it hurts.  I like my sauce acidic and tangy (I regularly drink pickle juice – acidity and I really get along).

My local Thai place has an -amazing- one that they call a plum and cream sauce and at this point it’s the only reason I eat there unless I’m really craving their house special tamarind and ginger crispy duck. Their plum sauce is NOTHING like the sickly sweet Chinese take-out plum sauce that comes in packets.  It leaves just enough heat to feel warm and the hint of whatever creamy stuff that floats on top really brings it out…and it’s so acidic that I think if I ate enough of it my tongue would bleed like that time in 4th grade when I ate way too many ShockTarts candies.  It’s perfect.

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Photo from Yelp of my local Thai place’s super, super tasty plum sauce.  The food they serve with it is okayish, but let’s be honest, anything we order as an appetizer, we only order for that sauce.

 

Decluttering to reclutter?

I didn’t knit any this weekend, so no chance to sneak in an extra medal for the Ravellenics.  I’m still tickled pink that the other scarf will be finished at some point and didn’t end up an Aerial Unwind!  The flash completely destroyed most of the detail, but rest assured, it’s there!

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I spent most of the weekend cleaning and culling the house.

I throw things away when I get stressed and I’ve been really stressed for some reason.  I don’t even know why.  Actually, I don’t throw stuff away, I donate it.  I have five boxes of stuff going out for donations.  Woohoo!

Which is fine, because I do have two new things in my house to find room for.

The first is a new food processor!!!

Logan broke my old one.  I destroyed him at a game (Carcassonne) that he thought he was going to win and he didn’t take that so well.  He puts a lot of his ego into games sometimes and did this time, so started beating on the poor table like Donkey Kong.  My old food processor was sitting on the end, waiting for the blade to dry, and BAM!  It fell off and smashed onto the floor.

I was pretty furious; both that he broke an expensive kitchen appliance and that he behaved like such a little brat when he’s an adult.

…so I ordered a new food processor a few weeks ago.  I decided I might as well go big or go home so I wanted this Cuisinart, to be exact.  I had a few Amazon gift cards from different discount programs saved up and set up an alert on Honey (an extension that tracks price changes and lets you set up alerts if it reaches a certain price) so it cost me just under $100, so I can’t complain really.

I certainly can’t complain once it got here.  I’ve loved it!  It knocks the socks off my old one — it’s almost silent, twice the size of my old one, and absolutely batters everything I throw at it.  I made Grandmother’s cheeseball not long ago without thawing the cheese or pre-chopping anything in less than 5 minutes.  My old processor would’ve rocked off the counter trying to cut through cold cream cheese.

The second (hopefully fun) appliance I picked up was a FoodSaver.  One of my friends swears by hers, so I’m really looking forward to trying it.  It hasn’t gotten here yet because it finally just hit my price alert — it was $168 (insane, right?) when I added it to my watchlist and we finally ordered it when it hit my $80 price alert on Friday.  It should arrive Tuesday.

We process a lot of our own meats — we buy in bulk on sale and freeze them for later.  By process I mean we’ll by entire cuts and cut them down to steaks or grind them ourselves; it’s way cheaper that way and we can get exactly what we want and need…even if it is a little extra work or people look at me weird for having a cured ham leg hanging up in the basement.  ;P  We also save a lot of cooked meals for easy dinners.  I also can or freeze a lot of produce when it’s in season, so there’s always something going on here!  🙂

Logan and I are both tired of wasting Ziploc bags and foil with freezing and since you can wash and reuse these and actually microwave or cook in FoodSaver bags we thought this would be a good investment for us.  Fingers crossed!

 

Hands

Panic.  It’s this weird overwhelming anxiety thing and it feels like there’s something squeezing me to death from the inside.  I can’t breathe right and I want to run away, even out of my own skin.

I don’t like panicking.  It’s really not fun, but it does happen unfortunately often.  The anxiety also causes migraines, which I know I’ve mentioned before, so it makes for an altogether not-so-fun day or days…depending on how long that impending doom feeling and the aftermath lasts.

Why does that matter at all?

Over time, I’ve sort of figured out that if I can do something with my hands, I’m usually distracted enough that I can remain calm.  Logan even bought me a spinning ring so I can fiddle with it when I get stressed in public.

Even better, I’ve found that the best way to help manage that suffocating, choking, crushing feeling is to do something productive.  Sure, taking naproxen like my neurologist suggested does knock off the edge a bit, but it doesn’t actually help me manage it.

But!  Making something does.  Putting something net positive and beautiful (or pretending it’s beautiful) out in the world helps to soothe those horrible nasty feelings.  If I can keep my hands wrapped up in yarn and make a pretty scarf, I’m usually pretty content.  If I’m using my hands to sew up a quilt, I at least have something to concentrate on.

I don’t know why but if my hands are occupied, my mind is too.

…so today, when I got a little overwhelmed out of nowhere, I made pretzels!

I don’t know why.  I’ve never made them before.  It just seemed like the thing to do.  I’ve been wanting to get more into baking, so maybe that’s what prompted it.

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Bonus:  baking is much more tasty than yarn or fabric.