Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In the Dark

We have a very pleasant fluorescent fixture in our bathroom.  The ballast died. Went to two stores in town to find replacement, but nothing similar was in stock. Mail ordered ballast. Elapse ~ week.

New ballast arrives and is perfect fit. Yeah. But we broke one of the tube holders. Having seen them at the hardware store when we were shopping for ballasts, we assumed them easy to replace and tossed them out. Next day and three hardware stores later, found that we were unable to  find the correct match.  Mail order parts. Elapse ~ week. Sadly these don't fit either.

We need the snap-in models, not the slide in models like "No #1".  We also learned we couldn't mutilate the tabs to force it to fit and stay in.  We also need a clearance of about 1" rather than the 1cm in "No #2".

It's so frustrating to know exactly what you want, but be unable to shop for it. One positive note, the teenagers have spent much less time in our bathroom.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Squash Bread

As the proud owners of a 40+ pound Giant Blue Hubbard squash this fall, we've been trying different recipes to make use of this tasty resource.  Besides making "pumpkin" pie with it for Thanksgiving dinner, I tried this recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest" for squash bread.  It is a basic yeasted wheat bread with pureed squash mixed in. They recommend any winter squash (acorns, butternuts, etc.)

  1. The sponge: 2 T dry yeast, 1.5 C warm water, drop of molasses. Mix and set for 5 minutes.
  2. Add: 2 C white flour, 2 C whole wheat flour. Mix, cover and set in a warm place for 30-60 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix 2.5 C mashed, cooked squash, 3 T molasses, 0.25 C melted butter, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 0.5 tsp cloves.
  4. Add the squash mix to the risen sponge.  Add flour 1 Cup at a time, alternating between white and wheat, as you mix the dough.  When it gets hard to mix, begin kneading.  Knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.  You may need 6-8 cups additional flour in this step. Place covered in a BIG oiled bowl and let rise in a warm spot for an hour or until doubled in size.
  5. Punch down the dough and knead a little bit more. Shape into loaves and put in/on greased pans. I made one bread loaf plus 18 large dinner rolls. I make dinner rolls by dividing each portion into three parts and rolling each into a ball, then putting the 3 balls into a muffin pan socket.  Cover dough with damp towel and let rise for an hour or until doubled again.
  6.  Bake at 350 - 375 until done. Loaves take about 40 minutes, rolls about 20.
 Very tasty. If I had remembered, I would have thrown a handful of pumpkin seeds (obviously, the peeled ready to eat kind) into the rolls as I was making them as was suggested in a different recipe I saw.

My big loaf leaned a little, maybe because it had to share an oven rack with the turkey, which was a space hog.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hats Off

In my continuing efforts to keep the Horner heads warm, I have added another knit cap to the collection. This a pattern by Anna Zilboorg that has been bastardized to accommodate using a much smaller gauge yarn by adding extra pattern repeats and sneaking in many extra rows.  All in all, I think it came out quite cute.

And, for another fun finish (well, the stitching part is finished, but I've not made it into anything yet.)  I got this idea from seeing a QR code made of a waffle with chicklets and chocolate chips.  I know I am not the first to do this in stitches, but when the idea struck, I could NOT RESIST.

Please, please, pull out your smart phone and scan this baby! I was just so tickled that it worked.  Isn't technology amazing!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


It's been a circus of a week. My laptop died last Wed and I've been slowly pulling my life back togerher. It's amazing how much of my daily activities were impacted.

So with many hours sitting and rwloading software and configuring things, I've had some downtime waiting for things to install. There is still much to do, but I have regained basic functionality.

This has been my knitting project for those moments. It will be the central vertical back panel of a cardigan. The yarn is noro in some colorway that makes me think of a sunset over Circus Circus.
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Loveliness of Ladybugs

Yesterday must have been the perfect combination of factors that culminated in hundreds of ladybugs emerging in the side yard. I first noticed a few on the window screen, but a walk around outside revealed hundreds of them.  Bwah hah ha, you aphids! Don't come around here.

Whenever I see a grouping of beasties large enough to catch my attention, I ponder the proper collective noun to be applied. A few friends were quick to let me know that it was a "loveliness of ladybugs" that I was seeing.  That wonderfully alliteratively enchanting phrase apparently stuck in my head all evening. During the 45 minute wait period between my daughter being dropped off for her orchestra concert and the performance, I sat around in the auditorium and doodled. And enjoyed a lolly from the Halloween booty. (Don't worry, I didn't eat any bugs.)

I tinted it a bit this morning with watercolors. My engineered palette would probably make a real watercolorist cringe, but it works for what I do, which is all that matters. (The little letters are sharpied abbreviations for the color, so when a micro-dot runs out, I can add another drop. Well, except for that pesky Davies Gray and Olive Green that REFUSE to stay adhered once they dry.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

I've had it up to here

...with the boring part and am happy to say I've moved on to the snowflake band mid-chest. This is a Norwegian ski sweater for my hubby. I will be needing a replacement project for my zombie knitting opportunities, as I will be required to pay attention on this one now.

BTW, I have no idea why the photo came out upside down.
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Friday, October 22, 2010

Last farmers market

It was a beautiful day to end out the season. Said fond goodbyes to all our favorite vendors and that we'd see them in the spring. Loaded up on apples, onions, pumpkins and wine.

Hubbub is out of town for a few days, so I really didn't need much. It is such a happy community thing, though, so I never feel bad shopping there. Or in a yarn shop. Shopping for clothes (shoes especially) OTOH ranks right up there with scooping dog poo.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just Noodling Around

I had an Amazon gift certificate I had been sitting on for a few months since my birthday. I had been feeling guilty I hadn't read any of my most recent book purchases and shouldn't buy another until I did so.  I order other junk from Amazon, but it just seemed wrong to use birthday money buying the replacement part of a blender or a rubber cargo bed liner for the Subaru (my recent non-book purchases.) Then I chanced upon the ink department and knew I'd have no problem disposing of the disposable income, not that I actually was out of ink.

Arriving last night were these four little bottles of Noodler's Fountain Pen Ink. I did a quick test with a dip pen to see what I got.

But wait - four bottles and only 3 samples on the card???

Bwah hah ha! Did I mention that I also ordered a pair of black light LED flashlights? One for me and one for my son. It takes two to have secrets. It works fabulously - it's just hard to take a picture of it.

Top to bottom:
  • Blue Ghost Invisible Bulletproof Ink
  • Noodler's Blue Eel (supposed to be a lubricating ink that is good in old crotchety and cheap pens.)
  • La Coulour Royal (i.e. purple, but a very deep bluish one - I really like it)
  • Hunter Bulletproof Eternal (this one had very different characteristics out of the bottle - it seemed thick, wrote bloopily and took forever to dry. And was a third the size of the others for the same price = rip off.) This one also looked very cool under the black light - each stroke had a glowing halo around it.

And "bulletproof" and "eternal" don't have anything to do with being unsmearable, apparently.  My smears won't ever fade in the light, and a check forget would not be able to remove all traces of my scribblings.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Likely Yarn

I started teaching a class on knitting Norwegian sweaters at the local yarn shop last night. I figured it would be only appropriate to have one of my own on the needles, so I started this new sweater about the same time the kids went back to school. It's for my hubby - you can see the finished goal in the leaflet.  I really only get to work on it during those morning times when I'm nagging the children onward through their getting-ready-for-school routine.  In its current phase, I call this my zombie knitting projects, as I need barely be conscious or I can be multitasking (i.e., the movie has subtitles). 

Something a bit more challenging, but only a bit.  Some socks for hubby.  This is the last of a kilo of grey rag wool I had bought. After about 4 pairs of gray ones, I decided to dye the rest maroon to give a little variety. I am making this up as I go along, hence the need to do both socks at once. The calf shaping is done by transitioning the wide cabled rib into regular rib - we'll see how that goes.

Last thing to show is one half of a pair of pumpkin hats for a friend who just had twins. This has been such a cute pattern - I've probably made a dozen of them for friends and family.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bored Meeting

Was I the only person doodling in the margins during the Board Meeting? I find I can't help it no matter how much attention I am paying.  The pen in my hand practically demands to be put in contact with the paper.  Names and agenda items have been blurred out to protect the innocent, as they weren't boring - just meetings in general.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What I did on my summer vacation

 We went to Oregon! Land of Banana Slugs and good beer.  We tried many good brews from the numerous breweries we visited to the interesting imports we found at a Bosnian restaurant in Astoria.

 We took in the Bite of Portland Festival and tried one of the famous Voodoo Donuts. $0.75 worth of donut and $2 worth of cleverness and hype (our Zombie was a man-shaped jelly donut impaled by a pretzel.)  Again, much good beer and music to partake there.  Oh yeah, and you can't drive through Tillamook without stopping at the cheese factory.

 Did some kayaking with my son after leaving the girl with my Mum in Newport. We also did some geocaching along the coast and in Portland, where we hooked up with my friend Tasha.

 One of the few low points of the trip was to visit a "castle" that the Thomas Guide was kind enough to highlight.  We RedOTFL to see it doubled as a Senior Center.  And it wasn't very castle-like, in fact it was just a house. But it wasn't just any house, it was the "Flippin" House. Next door was a (less historic) friggin' house.

For those times we couldn't make up our minds we ordered one of everything - sampler style.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

One To(k)e over the Line

Sweet Jesus. I was sitting downtown in the railway station and was able to close up the toe of sock number 1.  Because I'm doing them "2 at a time" style, it won't be long before the other is done.  I do so hope the train is on time.

The pattern is a Nancy Bush Mystery Sock that was posted on Ravelry.

I've just realized I need to stage another little project before my road trip tomorrow!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

New Old Stock

There was a time when your only option to put words down on a paper involved steel nibs and liquid ink.  If you do certain types of drawing or like to do calligraphy with the inks and paints that would clog up a calligraphy-nibbed fountain pen then, even today, you will still be dipping pens.

There are apparently vast piles of pen nibs stowed away in warehouses and basements, cast aside after the ballpoint pen came along and stole the scene. There are an unending variety in the brands and shapes, and I was unable to find details on which nibs might be good for what. You can pay a buck or two per nib at a good pen store. Alternatively, you can pick them up in quantity (usually a gross or by the 100) for $5 to $20 a box on ebay.  There were some really nice mixed lots on the UK ebay, but shipping was a downer.

I knew I wanted some for lettering and for drawing, but didn't know which ones. I also wanted to have enough for the kids to play with at a calligraphy class I'm teaching next week. So I ordered a few. Boxes.

Needless to say, if any of my buddies are dip pen fanatics, PM me your mailing address and I'll share a few nibs!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

In a Jam Again

Friends in Benton City invited me to visit their orchard yesterday and help myself to any cherries that the pickers missed.  Most of their crop took an overnight flight to Hong Kong, but they left a couple for me and for the blackbirds. Needless to say, I am in a jam again today. I'll be cranking out jam, bags of frozen & pitted smoothie-ready fruit, etc.  I guess it is that time of year.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jam I Am

We've had a very weird cool spring that has rolled into an atypical summer.  Just in the last few days, it has gotten HOT, which is not uncommon - we just usually ease in a bit more gradually.

As a result of this weather, our apricot tree has produced a bountiful crop of teeny cots that collectively decided to vacate the tree at the exact same hour.  If you stood in the yard, it was almost like an apricot rain.  The dog thought this was fabulous, as he loves to eat fruit and couldn't reach the apricots as well as he could the cherries. He also likes to roll in them.

This morning I finished up a second bout of apricot jamming, which followed closely on the heels of a big batch of currant jam and from the previous week, Rainier cherry jam. It came out fantastically tart and yummy.  I contemplated trying to use the cherry pitter the cots were so small!  (BTW: I use 10 cups chopped fruit, 1 box regular pectin, 1 box no sugar pectin, and 8 cups of sugar.) 

We eat a lot of jam - I put a big blob on plain yogurt in the morning and the kids are great toast and PBJ munchers. A side benefit of the weather being hot is that I can start making yogurt outside too.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

More Purple Goodness

This is coming along nicely - left front is almost done. Yarn is Andean Silk from Knit Picks. It's very soft and drapey - and intensely purple.  Pattern is from Classic Elite and looks cute but is very pissy.  There is shaping at the neck, at the armholes; there are hourglass darts in the lower section; there is a small lace pattern.  Nothing is challenging, but I get so tired of counting rows for each bit of business simultaneously. Decrease 6 times every 2nd row, then 4 times every 6th row, blah blah blah. When I get to the buttonholes on the right front, I'll have one more thing to track. I'm looking forward to my next project - I'll pick one where I can just sit and relax and knit.

On another knitting note, I visited a local wool shop yesterday* (Sheep's Clothing in Kennewick) to find that it had just been sold. The new owners have great plans for things and it sounded all very exciting. As we got talking I mentioned that I had taught classes for them about 10 years ago when they were in an old location. The guy's eyes positively lit up when he learned that I had done a Norwegian sweater class before and that I would consider doing one again.

*Like I so needed to buy more yarn.  (I was actually trying to track down one more ball that I'll need to finish a different vest.  I shouldn't have waited a year to decide I didn't have enough- I'll be on quite a goose chase or have a UFO forever.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Purple Haze

The weather is getting nice for sitting on the porch and spinning. I had forgotten about this project -can't remember what I was even planning on making. It is a 100% Rommledale wool roving in "Purple Haze" by Rainbow Yarns Northwest.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Multiply and I are Dividing

After struggling through a few years of loading photos and blog text up into Multiply, I have decided that I'd rather spend that time more productively.  I'm sure it will take a while to get all my settings adjusted here, but I'm optimistic.

This is my newest mandala painting. It is black India Ink with watercolors.