Crafty questions

I can’t resist a good set of questions!  I yoinked this from NothingButKnit‘s blog.

  1. Do you have a favorite crafting tool?
  2. Which do you prefer when you craft: listening to a podcast or music, watching something on tv or silence?
  3. Do you have a favorite designer that you’d like to recommend?
  4. Most people have a favorite color, do you find you use it more than other colors? Is there a color you avoid? Why?
  5. Have you experienced a crafting injury? If yes, what.

 

  1.  That’s an impossible question! I can’t possibly pick a single item.  I’ll explain why at the end of the questions.  🙂
  2. I tend to turn on Netflix when I’m crafting.  It’s usually not a show I’m actually interested in or else I’d end up staring at the screen more than working on whatever it is I should be.  I really like docu-series types of things for when I’m crafting away.
  3. Hrm.  That’s a tough one.  I love how Jinny Beyer uses color and tend to read her books cover-to-cover.  I also think most of Judy Niemeyer‘s designs are stunning.  Both are quilters.  As far as other crafts, I find it hard to resist Tania Richter‘s — her patterns are both whimsical and straight-forward, plus I LOVE her knit-alongs that involve role-playing.  It adds an entirely new and random aspect to everything.  I’ve also probably made more stuffed animals by CholyKnight than is reasonable for any adult.
  4. My favorite color is green — deep emerald green.  I actually don’t use it much at all.  Green is such a fiddly and difficult color to match (it tends to read with blue or yellow tints).  I actually tend to use black the most in all of my projects.  I also like navy and grays.  I avoid pink like the plague it is.
  5. A few.  😛  Besides super gluing my fingers together more than I care to admit, I’ve burnt myself with an iron THREE times; twice on my hand and once on my inner forearm.  The two on my hands blistered, the one on my arm left a 3″ scar.  I’m really lucky to have long, sturdy fingernails because I’ve sewn through them or cut them with a rotary cutter far too many times for my comfort.  Without them, I would have whittled my fingers down to nubbins.  I also flayed the skin and deeper tissues off of a finger last year when I was harvesting gears for a steampunk costume.  Don’t trust me with anything hot or sharp.

 

Okay, so back to why picking a favorite crafting tool is impossible.

I’m stupidly sentimental and I collect sewing machines.  That’s the TL;DR version.

I’m rehabbing some of them still (it’s slow because I don’t want to damage them at all) but most of them are already ready to go and ready to sew…and are used regularly.  It’s a horrible habit but I love it, so there’s no stopping it.  I currently have 15.

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Some of them are rescues, some are not.  The 237 and the White 1514 belonged to my sweet neighbor that lived across the road.  The 401A I’ll talk about below.  The 9110 belonged to my husband’s grandmother.  The little red Penney’s machine was my mom’s when she was a child.   …that big ole star?  He’s holding the place for the machine I’m picking up next month!  One of my aunts offered to give me either my grandmother’s or my great-grandmother’s treadle.  My choice.  I’m over the moon happy.

The coffin top fiddle base at the top is from 1889.  The Sphinx from 1900.  The W&W dates 1865 — it takes curved needles and still has its original glass presser foot.  The Two Spool is an amazing machine that doesn’t use a bobbin but has a canister that holds a wooden spool of thread.  It was THE machine I wanted and I converted a chain-lift cabinet to fit it.  I love my machines.

…but not as much as my room as a whole.

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Bigger photo here

Above is a 360 degree view of my sewing room.  Behind the door is where I keep my pile of yarn, since it didn’t make an appearance.  I can’t pick a favorite tool because I’m pretty sure if my house were to ever catch fire, I’d be running to that room and throwing everything out the window to save it…or at least try my damnedest.  A huge portion of it is sentimental.  This room is my safe space — I always feel comfortable and content when I’m in it.  I never feel far from the people I miss there.

It’s also the “girl’s room” in the house; my sidekick cat has literally learned to open the door and make herself at home.  If we have people at the house and she’s scared, you can bet she’s in that room hiding.  She particularly likes to be under my embroidery frame, behind the hand-crank machine, or moonlighting as a stuffed animal on top of the wardrobe.

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My husband’s female cat also loves to go in there and lounge on the table.  My little dog has a nest of fabric that she naps in when I’m in there or she’ll sit in the second chair.  The male cat and our big dog, neither one really cares to hang out there, so we’ve just established a no boys allowed thing…it’s especially handy when I have intrusive guests that want to fill the room with their extra baggage and nonsense — my husband can quickly forbid it as a sacred place for my sanity.

…and my husband likes to challenge people to guess how many sewing machines are hidden away in that little bitty room.  The current answer is six, plus a serger/coverstitcher.

So, going around the photo:

The Singer 401A?  Given to me when I first moved away from home.  It was a gift from the couple that taught me to quilt; I used to spend hours at their house sewing and laughing and learning…and on a few occasions, partying our asses off.  The lady died of a stroke a few years ago.

The now raggedy table under my cutting mat?  Built by my great-great-grandfather.

Not in the above photo, but above the table there is a shelf that I made a few years back.  It’s to hold a quilt but it’s the things on top are what is important.  I have a German Barbie that a friend of the family gave me when I was little.  The Barbie is now wearing my dad’s name badge from his workplace.  Also on that shelf are two of the last things my sister ever gave me.  When she was in high school she made the kitschy dragon for me in home ec because they were working on ceramics for who knows what reason.  The glued puzzle is one of the first things her ag teacher ever let them do — basic cutting and staining of boards…most kids decoupaged something on theirs, she glued on a glow-in-the-dark puzzle.  She ended up making some really beautiful things but I got her first janky item and loved it then and now.  (Ignore the fact that I obviously loved dragons…)

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The basket of hooks and needles?  The vast majority of the contents in that basket belonged to my great-granny or my husband’s grandmother.  Both crocheted and knitted.  The only tools I’ve ever had to buy for yarn crafts are my ChiaoGoo needles simply because neither had circulars.  I use my husband’s grandmother’s scissors in my yarn kit.  I’m knitting a scarf right now with my great-granny’s needles.

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Granny and I — she was born in 1899

The wardrobe?  I keep batting, polyfill, costumes, and patterns in there but it has been in my family and passed around so often that nobody can remember where it originally came from (the same goes from the Hoosier cabinet I have in my dining room).  The top of the wardrobe is the home of my childhood.  I keep all of my old stuffed animals there and my husband has added a few of his over the years as well.  One of the dolls was crocheted by Granny.

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You can’t really see it in the photo because the ironing board is blocking it, but there’s a small nightstand that I grew up with behind it.  In the drawer I keep most of my old family photos and my family tree information.  Nobody else wanted it when my great-granny died, so I ended up with all of it and cherish it.  On top of the nightstand rests the Penney’s sewing machine that belonged to my mom.

…and it’s also hard to see but in the closet there rests a box.  It holds all of my instruction manuals and things like that now, but the box itself is precious to me.  I love my family heirlooms but this one will be -my- heirloom if I ever have somebody to pass it onto. My best friend made it for me when we were 17 for my high school graduation.  He packed it to the brim with mints and playing cards — he always carried them for me at school and said I shouldn’t go without just because I was going off to college a year ahead of time.

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So, it really is impossible for me to pick a favorite crafting tool when so many of them aren’t just tools but memories.

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Bit all over the place

I think I’m going to be calling my newest art installation: Invisible Cat

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Our cat’s collar somehow got wrapped around one of the metal supports on their feeding dishes.  She went on a panicked rampage through the house, dragging the stand and destroying everything.  My room was hit the hardest; it’s her safe space.  She also picked the most stereotypical cat thing in the room to open and dump everywhere.  I’m almost proud of her.

Some of our friends just had a new addition arrive at their house in the form of a giant, bouncing baby boy.  Giant because he was almost 11 pounds!  I made them a lot of stuff for their little girl a few years ago, as we’d find out what they needed, but now they live forever away so I just made a small robot lovey (his dad is an EE that works with automation) for the little guy.  Hopefully it’ll get some use; I loved visiting them and bringing the girl a homemade toy every time and watching her play with it.  It’s nice to know somebody appreciates your work!  😛

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Sometimes, there’s a lot of satisfaction in proving somebody wrong…especially when that person is generally hateful towards you and never has anything nice to say.  Maybe I’ve just grown tired of being told to listen to “authority” or to “know my place”.  I’m not being mean or malicious about it but I just want everybody to know that he was wrong.

I can grow a tropical hibiscus in a zone 5.  Not only that, but I have two and they’re both flourishing.  They’re actually doing better than a lot of my cold climate plants this year — the rains and heat has been a bit unusual.

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I’ll move them inside this winter before it freezes and hope to keep them happy as larks for years to come.

Speaking of garden, we’ve been having mysterious holes appearing all over our yard this summer.  I’ve been keeping an eye out for chipmunks and voles but haven’t seen any of our usual suspects.  Plus, the holes weren’t right.  I still wouldn’t have been able to solve the mystery but I caught the culprit on film a few days ago.

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This Northern Flicker (yellow shafted — you can see a bit of it peeking through the wings) was happily pecking at our yard for almost two hours…s/he left a nice, perfectly shaped hole in that spot.  As I said, we’ve had a lot of rain and some ant nests have popped up in weird places.  I’m really glad we don’t typically spray pests around the house.  I’d hate to hurt our residents.  The flickers had another nest this spring in our owl box — it was great fun to sit out there in the evening and listen to the babies chirp.  🙂

All over the place update

Well, it’s been about a month since I posted anything.  I’ll take that as a good thing — it means I’ve been insanely busy and blogging has been an afterthought entirely.

So what exactly have I been doing?

I went to my new neurologist and she took me off of the horrible Topamax.  It took a few weeks to phase out but it has been awesome having me back.  I spent over a year wandering around in a fog and not sure why or how to do anything.  All of the side effects faded about 2-3 days after I took my last dose, including the eye twitch that my former neurologist swore up and down couldn’t be a side effect because “this medicine is used to treat Tourette’s.”  The twitching was so bad it would actually wake me up…and it’s gone!!!

Also along medical lines, I had my first real exam with my dermatologist.  She said my morphea is really softening and looks lighter thanks to the medicines she has had me one and the eczema on my hands is almost fully controlled now.  Yay!  The full body exam revealed nothing other than a skin tag I asked to have removed…in my armpit…and she froze it off.  It felt like I was carrying a very pissed off bee under my arm for a while.  Otherwise, I was told I have remarkably clean and clear skin.   Who would’ve ever thought that?!

We did our spring migration south to visit with my husband’s friends.  It was the best gathering we’ve had in years there and it seems most everybody agreed.  It’s crazy how one person not being there caused all of the tension and drama to evaporate.

Our little dog has been having unusual episodes.  We took her to a doggy neurologist and had the follow up appointment.  She had a MRI (yah, wrap your mind around that for a minute) and it was determined that whatever is going on with her is a functional disorder — either partial seizures or a muscular disorder – so she’s on medicine now for it.  To completely determine what it is that’s wrong with her, we’d have to take her to Cornell University for an EEG.  The MRI was insane enough, but there’s no way.  They also did an x-ray of her chest while she was there because she has a slight murmur.  It checked out well and the vet said if we didn’t have videos of her odd symptoms, he’d never believe it because she’s perfectly healthy otherwise.

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Spring finally arrived and we have a robin nesting in the little vestibule outside of our laundry room door.  It was a blast watching the entire process, including the mama coming back to lay an egg every day.

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The chicks hatched yesterday!

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We’re all doing our best not to disturb them, so I only grab photos when the parents are off the nest and searching for food.  Hopefully in the next few days I can get a photo through the door’s window of the chicks being fed — it’s adorable.

Entertainment wise, we saw Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood (from Who’s Line is it Anyway?)  last week at an improv show.  Logan wasn’t familiar with either of them, but I’d spent many sick days as a teenager watching them on TV.  They certainly didn’t fail to impress and the show was hilarious.  I laughed so hard my sides ached.

I’ve been doing an insane amount of food preservation.  Our freezer is almost overflowing.  The good news is, that means we have fun meals!  I don’t take too many photos of food buuut:

Since we went south we came home with more country ham than anybody should legally be able to have and a really great batch of green tomatoes.  You know what that means!

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Fried green tomatoes.  Logan likes to top his with my pimiento cheese and bacon jam.  He’s not wrong in that combination.

Last night Logan asked for smørrebrød.  I haven’t made them since I lived in Denmark over a decade ago, so it was a bit of an adventure trying to find some of the harder ingredients around, especially the bread since I didn’t quite feel up to baking my own.  But I did manage to pull it off last night.  He wants to visit the Nordic countries even more now.

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I can’t say how happy I am to have a real fish monger in the area — I can get sole!  😀

Finally crafting things!  My favorite!

I set aside the sock because I was getting frustrated with the endless cycle of impossibly small cables.  I love cabling normally but this was getting ridiculous.  Instead, I decided to make a pair of mittens.  What’s with me and small needles right now?!

I chose Butterfly Mittens by Emily Bujold from Ravelry.

They’re Fair Isle, which I’ve never done.  I’ve also never made mittens.

Me, being me, I decided to change everything and make it harder.

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I’m mixing in intarsia in the round so I can make my butterfly a monarch.  AND I just finished altering the pattern so that the thumbs are by the butterfly’s wings, so the butterfly looks like it’s being held in the palm of your hands.

Nothing like having to completely rewrite and chart a pattern, eh?  Her instructions and stuff are fine but just didn’t give the result I wanted in the end.  I didn’t realize this until I got to the butterfly and had to tink back a bajillion microscopic rows.  The designer promises to change the instructions for a palm-held butterfly in an update — it’s a bit deceptive on the Ravelry page because people have changed it before and are featured in the photos, so it looks like it’s an option when it’s not.

So far I’m loving the color work, even though I was worried about it at first.  I’ve never had to float yarn before because all of my pieces with two colors have been double knit.  Lots of fun stuff in this one!

I’m using Cascade 220 yarn because it was cheap, 100% wool, and had the colors I wanted available.  It’s not the best or softest yarn, but it’s working well with these mittens so far.

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Hopefully I’ll remember to update in a more timely manner (and catch up reading blogs!) next time.

We’re going to three shows this weekend, (Mastadon, Hammerfall/Flotsam & Jetsam, and Apocalyptica) so I’m in for another busy one!

Oh, deer

Our yard is finally starting to wake up from its winter slumber!  I’m so happy that I don’t see any casualties (yet) from the very harsh conditions this year.  I think it was the 3rd snowiest year on record, ever, for our area thanks to the back-to-back-to-back nor’easters that hit in March.  Up until today, we also had fresh snow every day in April.  Spring as been fun for those of us who enjoy snow!  🙂

The one issue I did notice when I was trampling around in my yard yesterday was deer damage.

Do any of my fellow gardeners and plant lovers have any good suggestions for ways to discourage the pesky deer?

They really chewed on just about everything this year, even plants they normally don’t bother that much.  I don’t know if it was because winter seemed so much longer this year or what, but they’ve nipped almost every bush I have down and stripped bark off of trees.

I was proactive this year and put a wrap on my pink magnolia — they always nibble and strip it, so at least the base of it was saved and I still have some blossoms higher up.  They chewed anything else they could reach though.  My rhododendrons look like they’ve been a buffet, as do my mountain laurel and azaleas; all of them have been stripped of leaves.  They’re still supple and green, though, so I’m hoping they can recover.  I have quite a few rhododendrons and they’re all really large and would be hard to cover, so the deer have been really at it recently.  The ground around them is churned up badly and covered in scat.

Thankfully, my new-ish berry bushes have been completely unscathed.  I think the deepness of the snow spared them from unwanted attention (usually the rabbits are what get after them anyway).  They look healthy and happy and I’m looking forward to adding some blueberries, black currants, and lingonberries this year to our normal blackberry and raspberry crops!  I hope!  🙂

Aside from deer damage, Logan and I have had a busy week.

Three doctor appointments, one vet specialist, our anniversary, and two shows at our local theater!

We were supposed to have contractors at the house this morning but they had to reschedule for next week.  They’re installing air conditioning!!!   Other people lost heat and that seemed more important to all of us; it’s still way too cold for air co and the need for heat is very real since it’s still dipping into the 20s at night here.

The doctor appointments all went well.  The end results are I have new glasses — I’m getting less and less far-sighted as my optometrist of yore predicted when I was little.  Logan has to have a skin biopsy next month but we’re not too worried about it.

Our little doggo Mitzi has been having a really odd leg thing since December where she’ll randomly draw one leg up for no longer than a minute and whimpering slightly like it’s hurting her.  As soon as it’s over, it’s over.  It repeats every couple weeks.  Earlier this month, she has three episodes in a day and we took her to the vet.  He couldn’t figure out what on earth may be causing it, so referred us to a neurologist.  Who would’ve thought those existed?  The neuro said her evaluation was great but he thinks she may either be having partial seizures or have a muscle contracting disorder, which usually presents when they’re younger.  He’s leaning towards seizures right now but we’re watching and waiting and trying to gather more data before diving into a very expensive MRI or a risky drug trial.

I found a video of another Mini Schnauzer that was having the exact problems that Mitzi was and the dog is the same age, so I left a comment but I don’t have any hopes of hearing back from them.  For the sake of interest or if anybody else has had a similar experience, the video is here.

The shows we saw were lots of fun.

We saw Wrath of Khan, followed by a Q&A with William Shatner.  He was, as always, full of personality.  The last time Logan and I saw him was years and years ago at Dragon*Con when he did a panel with Leonard Nimoy.

We also saw a really odd amalgamation of things — poetry, music, interpretive dance, dramatic readings — performed by Bill Murray.  I think my favorite parts were when he chose to sing, sometimes off key.  …or maybe when he decided to run out in the audience and fling the bouquet of roses somebody gave him at audience members.  That was super entertaining.  So was his playing the piano with his butt, but that’s neither here nor there.  😛  It was an all around entertaining show and not entirely a comedy as one would expect from the likes of Bill Murray.

Kitties

I think I should give up on making my bed.

“Why make the bed if you’re just going to mess it up again?”

^^  I hear that question a lot.  Why bother wiping your ass, either, then?

(Didn’t I say last time I was going to let a bit more of me out?  I’m a lot more rough around the edges at 31 than I was at 21…)

I love, love, LOVE the feeling of crawling into a crisply made bed and wiggling down into the sheets.  There’s just something magical about it.  Especially freshly laundered sheets.  Mmmm…

I also live with cats.  Which are the source of my bed-making frustrations right now.

The cats have their own blanket on the bed, one that often has a print of a cat on it.  Right now it’s a blue sherpa and super snuggly.  No matter how good our intentions are, the cats have their own ideas about where they prefer to sleep.

Tesla has her own pillow.  It’s actually my pillow — I sleep with two — but she has permanently stolen the one that I don’t keep in a choke-hold at night.  She’s too cute to fight on that point and she makes a rather warm hat.

Sagan prefers to sleep in the crook of my arm, nursing the blanket.  I’m not sure what’s wrong with him, but I’m pretty sure he’s actually a teddy bear that purrs.

Joule…well, Joule has her own, unique ideas about the best place to sleep.  Sometimes it’s with the dogs, sometimes it’s on my face, once or twice we’ve found her in the sink…but she always does whatever the hell she wants.

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This week it has been unmaking the bed so she can sleep under the corner of the sherpa blanket.  While the other two do like sleeping on it during the day, Joule chooses to sleep under it.

I rather empathize with her right now.

Passing the time

Logan has asked me to take on the monumental task of digitizing our music collection and collecting what’s already digital all in one location.  Eep!

We’re showing our old and rigid ways; we still purchase CDs, which essentially makes us dinosaurs in this digital era.

He wants a backup in case something tragic happens (some of the discs are almost two decades old now and others are impossible to find) and I’m okay with that…other than having to sit at my computer, bored out of my mind while they rip.  I like to organize and create insanely detailed lists — I’m looking at you, budget! — but this one is a little out of hand.  I honestly don’t know how many CDs we’ve collected over the years, much less how many hard-drives our digital collections are scattered across now or if I even want to find some of the old stuff Logan listened to.  Sorry, not sorry.  ;P

…so since I’m stranded at my desk, I figured I would blog to pass the time.

Joule is pouting, as she tends to do, when she doesn’t get her way.  Last time she hid under a blanket on the bed, growling, after I shooed her out of my crafting room until I let her back in hours later.  Then she was back to being Miss Rainbows and Sunshine.

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Today she was on my desk, playing with a pair of plastic elephants I found hidden in a hole in the floor — my glasses broke last week and the lens disappeared into a hole under the heater and I found it after hours of searching, along with the elephants and a lot of dust — and, being a typical cat, she knocked it right off into the trash.  Not really wanting to keep the elephants, I left them in the bin.  She tried fishing them out and then started fussing at me when she couldn’t, but I ignored her…so now she’s blatantly ignoring me and sulking under Logan’s chair.

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It never fails to amuse me when people who don’t have pets claim that animals don’t have personalities…because they do.  They soooo do.

Our dog, Mitzi, for example, got in a bit of trouble a few nights ago for breaking into the trash can.  She knows the rules of the house.  She knows them so well that she tattles on herself.  If she doesn’t meet you at the door with her head hanging, she’s hiding and is nowhere to be found.  This time, she was missing and there was a bone on the living room rug, so we knew the dogs had been having a party without us.  Thorin pretended he had no clue what was going on, as he always does.  Mitzi, though, was missing.

Thankfully, she’s not that good at hiding.

In fact, she’s hilariously bad at hiding.

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Thorin was cheering us on from the side, blaming it all on her…even though there was also a bone in his favorite chewing spot.  Mitzi may have no dignity, but at least she’s honest.  😛

I’m glad the dogs felt my food scraps were worth raiding the trash and a chiding; I would have given the bones to them to begin with if I wasn’t afraid they would’ve splintered and hurt them.  Logan tried cooking and feeding the squid scraps to them and they turned their little noses up at him.  He was pretty aghast over it.  I don’t blame them though — I wouldn’t have eaten it either and I quite enjoy squid.

Last night I cooked the pork belly I mentioned in my last post.  I decided to make it a bit spicy with a rub and did a honey glaze at the end after it had rendered and crisped nicely.  Logan and I are doing a gift a day this December as a way to spice up our normal Christmas celebration — we’ve mostly done really small gifts but he gave me my large gift on Wednesday since it’s my wet blanket day.  I’m now the gleeful owner of an immersion blender, so I had to test it out.  LOVE IT!  We had garlic-sauteed kale, some sticky cabbage, and some pureed sweet potatoes to go with the pork belly.  Logan was super happy…and since my only job in life is to feed his hearty appetite, I guess the mission was accomplished.

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Logan and I tend to eat a crazy variety of food — I get easily bored making and eating the same things.  It seems not everybody is the same way?  I hear a lot of our friends/family complain about being in food ruts.  It’s easy to break out of it; just cook something different!

Wednesday, I made Kapustnyak (a Ukranian sauerkraut stew) with some soda bread.  The stew looks like any other bowl of soup but Logan thought the bread was worth taking a picture of.  He’s been craving it since our trip to Ireland, so I figured I might as well try to make some.  Turns out it was incredibly easy to make and only took about 45 minutes total, so I’ll be doing it again next time he wants bread with a meal.

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Tuesday, we had a comfort food meal of meatloaf, collards (Logan’s favorite, I think they taste like farts smell), carrots (with cardamom because I like cardamom), fresh pickled beets, and some stove top potatoes…that Logan turned off the heat to because he thought he was being helpful so they didn’t color or thicken right…but at least they were cooked.  Ugh.

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Monday night was…a hilariously horrible casserole straight out of the 70s known as Saucy Twist Pork Dish.  It was my Dad’s favorite meal, competing only with Grandmother’s spaghetti.  When Logan first visited my home in Virginia a decade ago, Dad was still living but not doing very well…and Dad asked that I make Saucy Twist for him — he even used to call me home from college to make it for him.  Who was I to say no at that point?  Saucy Twist looks like vomit in a pot.  Ketchup, rotini, SPAM (no kidding), cheese, canned soup…it’s special.  I grew up on it, I’m used to it.  Lo and behold, Logan LOVED it.  Loves it like Dad loved it.  He asks to have it every week if I’ll put up with it.  I try to keep it down to once a month but it doesn’t keep him from asking more often and begging for the leftovers. 😛

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Whoever reviewed it as having an attractive appearance needs their glasses fixed more than I do.  It looks horrible, especially before it’s baked.  It tastes a whole lot better than it looks.

Tonight it’s either pineapple fried rice with Chinese sausage and shrimp or little handheld meat pies…depends on which Logan wants when he gets home.  I’m leaning towards the pineapple fried rice.  The pineapple I have is HUGE and smells so delightful, I can’t wait to cut into it.

I finally finished the CDs but I had one final thought I wanted to toss out there.

I posted some photos of my sister on her birthday on Facebook.  I tagged my Mom in them so her friends could see them too.  I keep my friend list pretty sparse, so normally don’t receive much of a response to my posts…but this one did, at least for me.  105 reactions and 34 comments as of right now.  Most of the people I found appropriate, but one almost sent me into a rage fest…and it still might.

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To give a frame of reference — this is how most of the comments were.  The first comment was from one of our neighbors.  He’s my age and we were pretty decent friends through school, really good friends when we were younger.  He’s always been a nice guy and always treated my sister well.  He sent me flowers at her funeral and every year has sent a message of some sort to me on her birthday or the day she died.

The second comment was from the lady that drove my sister to pre-school for years, so knew since she was a toddler.  She’s also the one who was the dispatcher when I made the 911 call and stayed on the line with me for half an hour, even though she was crying, while I was performing CPR and waiting on an ambulance.

The fourth comment is from an old co-worker of my mom’s.  When we were little, I remember visiting her a few times and she made beautiful porcelain dolls to look like my sister and me when we were in elementary school.

The last comment is from one of my sister’s best friends, “Good Buddy” as they called each other.  I don’t have to say any thing else about her, some friendships are special.

The comments were all from people that knew my sister, knew her well, and have reason to remember her.

…but that middle comment makes me want to rip out somebody’s hair, namely the person that commented and her family.  The lady that left the comment is the mother of my sister’s biggest bully in school.  The girl tormented the shit out of her, made a game out of making her miserable (even when my sister went to a different school for two years), to the point that I had to intervene.  She would tell other kids that they could be her friend if they would stop being my sister’s friend or bully them relentlessly as well if they wouldn’t.  She even threatened her physically — which is when I stepped in and told her I’d be there after school to handle it.  Thankfully the kid was chickenshit and I saw her running out of the school as I was closing my locker at the final bell…but of course, not before she had her older sister confront me about “picking on” her baby sister. At my sister’s funeral, the bully showed up crying harder than anybody else in the room.  I had to leave the room at that point or I honestly could have stabbed her with a flower spike.  Their mom is a complete jerkwad too, though, so I’m not surprised.  I AM surprised she had the balls to comment though and it’s really taking all I have not to spit some venom at her.   …so this is my outlet, for now.   Fuck you, Glenda, and your shithead spawns.

 

He’s a free elf!

Our cold snap keeps rolling in and I’m loving it.  It’s supposed to get down to 16 tonight, which is a record low for this time of year.  Huzzah!

The bad news about that is I’m sending Logan out to a Tiesto show, so he’s going to freeze his butt off walking to the venue tonight over in Albany.  The wind off the Hudson can be wicked.  I’m not a fan of techno/club music and he conned some coworkers into going with him, so I’ll enjoy the break and get in some quality knitting.  I’m hoping I can finish off the skein from the arm I made the other day by adding some length to the torso and then start the other arm; I didn’t want a join in the middle of an arm.

The good news about the cold is that it’s cold!

…but while I love cold, I established yesterday that Mitzi doesn’t.  She shivers and shakes if it gets below freezing and starts demanding her clothing.  Yes, we’re that type of dog parent.  When your dog is miserable without a fluffy sweater on, though (and fights you when you try to take it off in winter), it’s hard not to be.

Yesterday, I had to do a supply run for dog food and cat litter to Target and the clothing section siren-songed me.  I ended up getting Mitzi a fluffy new “bathrobe” sweater made of minky and wouldn’t you know, they had an XL that fit Thorin too?!

Now, Thorin, being a big dog, has never had clothes before.  He has a tie he can wear for formal photos and a backpack for hiking but that’s the extent of it.  He likes blankets and being snuggled just as much as Mitzi — even though he’s also just as happy running in the snow — so since the robe was only eight bucks, I thought what the hell, let’s do a hilarious family photo for our Christmas card this year!

We tested the robe on him last night.

We put Mitzi’s robe on her first since she’s already cold and acting like a burr stuck to my butt.  Thorin was dancing around hoping we had something for him in the bag but when he saw it was clothes, he went and lay down on Mitzi’s little bed and pouted a bit — he never gets clothes after all.  Surprise, big dog!

We wrapped him up in his fluffy, canine robe; his tail was wagging and he was wiggling around in glee the whole time.  His reaction was on par with his “going to see Bella” reaction**.  Then he strutted around the house like he was the most special dog in the world (he’s one of them, but don’t tell him that).

Then he came upstairs to our bedroom, decided he was clothed so was was a free elf — and therefore human now — so invited himself onto our bed where he did his bizarre wuffle-purr that he does when he’s uncontrollably happy.  He also had his doofy dog smile most of the night, so we let him break the rules and sleep with us.  It was worth it.

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Joule, seen in the background, isn’t sure why Thorin is on the bed where she normally sleeps.  She was okay with it though, she loves Thorin.  As a kitten, we joked that she was his kitten, not ours because they were inseparable…now she’s more of my shadow, but still loves the big guy and snuggles him often.

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I know I’ve seen research that says most dogs don’t like being hugged, but he’s totally the exception.  He’ll seek out hugs and put himself in positions to be hugged, snuggled, or wrapped up in blankets.  I’ve used this dog as a pillow before and he’s completely chill with it.

Added bonus: Mitzi is a bizarrely small Mini Schnauzer and her robe fits the cats.  We tested it on Sagan since he was the only one not eating when we had the idea and he had zero objections to being wrapped up in a minky bathrobe and fell asleep within minutes, doing his own species appropriate purr.  Our Christmas card this year is going to be fun indeed!

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**  Bella was my sister’s dog, so lives with my Mom in Virginia.

Thorin loooooves Bella and looooves car rides and loooooves playing in VA where they get to run around in the mountains and cause all sorts of mayhem like stealing deer carcasses and killing possums.  Just saying the word “Bella” around Thorin results in him rushing the front door and wild leaps and yips. …he knows the entire 12 hour car ride, down to the correct interstate exit 18 miles from Mom’s house; none of the other exits for gas or food phase him, but at that exit, he starts to flip out again and wants to ride the rest of the trip with his head out of the window.  He starts whining incessantly a few miles away from Mom’s house — he knows.   He once tried to climb OUT of the window  –lesson learned, we only put the windows down far enough for his nose now, not his entire fat head — when we get to my Grandmother’s house so he can beat us all to Bella (no worries, we slow to a stop for the sharp turn to the road to my house, so if he had managed to get out, the car wouldn’t have been moving).  Nothing is better than Bella in Thorin’s eyes.

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Thorin and Bella refueling on water last year after playing in the cow barn.  So, so stinky.  No wonder he loves it there. 😛

Progress!

No better place to throw your anger at a internet fabric company than into cleaning, right?  😀

 

Remember Logan’s basement chaos?

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This is what it looked like as of tonight!

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This is “my” side of the basement, as Logan calls it…even though it now houses all of the home improvement supplies on those two big, metal shelves and his treadmill.  His scrap metal and wood collection are behind me in that storage thing I slapped together a few weeks ago.  The bookshelf will be added when it’s done. The chest freezer and canned good shelf is hidden in a cubby to the right and you can see a fair share of sewing goodies.

My quilting frame was unearthed!!!  I could’ve done a happy dance with that one.  I also have my precious Two Spool treadle set up and uncovered the sewing machine I was given that had belonged to Logan’s grandmother (both on the left).

The machines and cabinets on the left are for rehab.  The green one is empty, with a storage bench.  I’m stripping the paint off and refinishing it to replace the cabinet my 401a is currently in — the cabinet it has now is old and rickety and on it’s last leg.  This one has much more space and a tip out drawer, which I like.  Plus, it has the stool!  Logan’s collection of old magazines to sift through are on it right now because somebody (not naming names) put heavy stuff on it while I was stripping the interior paint off earlier this year and warped it a bit.  Since it’s a bit of a puzzle table and folds together neatly, it needs to be convinced to go back together smoothly before I carry on.  The other two machines were given to me and will be rehomed when they’re spiffed up — one is a treadle and just needs beautification and some love.  I may practice repainting sewing machine heads with it, or at least perfect a French polish; the clear coat is gone as are most of the decals, so no real loss if it takes a few tries.  The other is motorized but the motor was shot, so Logan wanted to play with learning to rewind one without consequences.

It was a long and messy process, with a bit of organization and break-down of larger components still left to do on the actual laboratory side, but Logan is really excited about it and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.  He had to dance around with his light saber in the dark when we called it a night.  Floor space is awesome. 😛

Mitzi, however, remained unimpressed with everything we had to sort through.  She insisted on staying with us, though.

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Sorting boxes and cans of parts that one of our neighbors gave us into our own storage system.  Mitzi literally couldn’t care.

Logan has been determining whether or not parts are still viable and worth keeping and then I get to break down, organize, and put away what he wants to save.  I’ll share a photo of his laboratory at some point when it’s a little less chaotic.  It was in just as bad of shape as the other side, maybe worse.  Now, at least, it’s a functional processing center.  It, too, has only been improving every day.  The last of the mystery boxes from our neighbor is in the photo, so after this, we just have to finish disassembling things and harvesting parts from bigger projects — some projects aren’t worth saving, but the components are.

While we were sorting and cleaning tonight, we kept hearing a sad meow.

Sagan wanted to say hello but couldn’t quite get to us from upstairs.  Sagan is not a vocal cat, at all, so it surprised us both to hear him meowing.  He’s also not the brightest cat around — he definitely doesn’t live up to his namesake — so we’re always a bit surprised when he can find us.  He’s the type of cat that gets lost if you leave the room while he’s asleep.  His only motivations in life are food and snuggles.

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The pipes from our heating system run along the basement ceiling, through a hole in the block wall.  The hole connects to the boiler room where the cats love to hang out — so much that we put their litter boxes there.  I figure he was making a pit stop and saw the light and heard us, so finally put two and two together…plus, it was almost his dinner time.  😛

If you look super close, you can see cat hair stuck to the blocks and some black smears on the wall.  Those are from another of our cats, Joule.  She’s a wily little brat and loves nothing more than to give Logan a run for his money.

He thought he had his basement sealed off from the cats, but she comes and goes as she pleases through that hole and generally keeps the basement mouse free (yay!).  There are cute little paw prints on the wall to prove it — one of our friends thought we painted them on.  He finally caught her down there a few months ago and sure enough, she parkoured her way almost straight up the wall like Spiderman and vanished through the hole back into the house.

He once waged war on her as a kitten and tried locking her downstairs (our house is a multi-split level, so he was just trying to keep her in the bottom half) — he triumphantly told me there was no way she could get upstairs.  She’d beaten him upstairs by the time he’d gotten up there to tell me.  She’s my favorite of the cats and definitely my little sidekick.  >_>;

She even helps me when I’m on the phone or computer most nights.  ;P

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Cables: knitted and electrical

Happily I received responses back from both the cardigan designer and the raveler that had the non-sad and droopy join.

The designer said the ugly cable was so the rope would kind of mirror itself down the front in a \ / kind of twist towards the center rather than a / /  and said that if I didn’t mind the parallel twist I could just continue the pattern as is to keep the nice ropes (which actually doesn’t work quite that simply because I’ve already tried that — but kind of her to offer a solution anyway).  I figure she didn’t think much of the join at the back of the neck because she has quite lovely, long hair to hide an odd cable whereas my Grandmother sports a very cute short haircut.

The ravelry member was very nice but made her project over three years ago and didn’t remember doing anything different from the pattern but did promise to dig out the pattern and check her notes just to make sure.  I did look at her sweater again and the ropes did have the / / pattern down the front instead of the \  /  ….but she still somehow got the ropes to connect with the pattern at the join when I can’t voodoo magic it.

For now, I’ve sucked it up and went with the weird cable unless the other raveler gets back to me with something from her notes.  If she does, then I can go back and either start over or rip it all out.  Either or, I really do enjoy knitting cables!

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I’ve absolutely invaded our “entertainment” room.  It’s for my entertainment currently!  It’s so much easier to knit when kicked back in a recliner enjoying Netflix on a projector.  …plus it’s one of the few rooms I can actually keep the cats out of.  It’s also why you can see my cross-stitch project from hell and wrapped Christmas presents hiding in the background.  Cat-free zones are precious in my house.

Speaking of the critters, they had fun trashing the house last night.

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Thorin finally murdered one of the few stuffed toys and gutted it, so polyfil is floating around all of the baseboards…and it appears one of the critters, hard to tell which since they all use it, finally tore through the huge dog bed and then gleefully began distributing chunks of foam everywhere.  By everywhere, I do mean I woke up with it in the bed with me upstairs and found some in the bathtub, so the cats were definitely involved.

The little dog likes to pretend she’s innocent of the whole thing since she sleeps with us all night, but she was chasing around the others with the squeaker from the gutted toy this morning…so I figure she set them all up from the get-go.  😛

After regaining some control of my living areas, I retreated to the basement/laboratory.  After making the scrap storage for Logan, he has finally began showing some spark of life about cleaning — FINALLY — and getting that area functional.  So I’m all about helping as much as I can.  Knitting and other stuff can wait!  (…at least a little bit…)

I assembled two big shelves for one of the corners of my side, replacing two bookshelves that were there.  One of the bookshelves was falling apart from all of our moves, so it was unfortunately time to be trashed…literally, the books were supporting the shelves.  The other bookshelf I’m going to exchange for the metal shelf I’m using currently for my sewing machine repair supplies and that sort of stuff. I don’t need anything substantial for my sewing machine stuff, but his laboratory could use some good shelving, so I’ll give Logan the metal racking.

The shelves I put together will hopefully hold most of the construction and home improvement stuff, along with a few other weird things.  The idea is to get it out of the part of the basement that will be his lab and to make that stuff more accessible in general.

I’ll try to remember to snap a photo tomorrow when I’m down there next, but so far I have 6 plastic bins I’m sorting home improvement supplies into (paint, plumbing, electrical, flooring, caulk and putty, and general repairs/hardware) and a shelf for paint (yah, we have that much), and some shelves set up for some of the more portable power tools.

Tomorrow I’m going to start putting books on the shelves.  We only store heavy reference and technical books down there…but we’re nerds, so we have a lot.  So far I was able to condense a whole bookshelf of paint down to one shelf, so I’m hoping a shelf of books can be done similarly.

I’ve also emptied out the old filing cabinet the former owners left in the attic — we had drug it down to the basement to use as our home improvement junk drawers — and fitted the cabinet drawers with some tension rods that now hold his spools of wire.  The wire that isn’t spool (including ribbon cable) he just wanted put in the bottom drawer as a fun kind of grab bag.  I’ve moved and spooled so much wire and cable today, I’m sure I’ll see it in my dreams.

It has already made the place soooo much more accessible and cleaner.  We still have a long way to go, but he’s enthusiastic and so long as I keep making in-roads on the parts I can do and work on organizing, he’s not getting overwhelmed and wanting to quit.

…now if only I knew about electronic parts, other than their basic names, so I could get all of those boxes and boxes of stuff from our neighbor sorted and cleaned up.

Whew!

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I’m mostly over my ProgPlague now.  I hope.  I can at least semi-breathe instead of wheeze, so that’s a start!

Logan flew back to Atlanta in the wee hours this morning to recruit at the job fair that was postponed.  I think he was regretting not going yesterday, but he tends to be overwhelmed with an odd mix of practicality and sentimentality…and didn’t want to cost the company an extra night at a hotel or “leave his wife” for an extra night.   Thus, he was awake at 3 a.m. this morning to drive to the airport to catch a 6 a.m. flight south.

So now I have two days home alone!

I’m not quite sure what to do with myself other than harass the cats, which I do anyway.

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Joule even managed to crack a smile for me!  I think she was getting ready to yawn but I’ll pretend it was a smile.

Also, if you ever want to hear a cat actually whine…have a dog sneeze on her.  It’s hilarious.

I did finally get up the gumption to go through the bag of stuff Mom sent up here.  She always saves all of her magazines (or at least the recipes) and various other things for me.  I didn’t have time to go through them at her house, so I just threw them in my suitcase and brought them home this time.  o.o;

There was at least one magical item hidden inside:  my yarn!

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I’d had this stuff sent to her house back before we adventured overseas.  Knitpicks discontinued their Diadem yarn and I couldn’t resist grabbing up some of it.  I don’t even know what I’m going to do with it yet…but it’s finally going to be a project for me, so I bought it in my favorite color to wear: black!

I’ve been petting this yarn all week.  It’s ridiculously soft.  I can’t wait to pin down exactly what project to make with it.  I’m strongly leaning towards some sort of fancy shrug or shawl.  I don’t like showing my arms and almost all of my nice clothing is sleeveless, so I often wear it with some sort of sweater.  This is fancy and shiny enough it could be dressy….and it’s soooo soft!

I’m still in a bit of a rut crafting-wise.  My motivation just isn’t there, though I have been slowly adding a few rows to the RPG scarf that never ends.  I did set aside some fabrics for the alpaca quilt I’ve been wanting to make.  Maybe it will be the kick in the pants I need.  I love alpacas.  :3

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The teal background fabric is sparkly.  I think I’m being dazzled by glittery things right now.