Friday, March 31, 2017

And Then There's 35...

or rather on 22 actual work days left for me at the library.

We had a meeting with the group which is coordinating treatment for Lady K's sensitivity issues. And in the course of the discussion, our weekly occupational therapist session now has a couple more therapist appointments in the course of a week/bi-weekly time frame.

AND...

Adding to that, Texter will have a really heavy load her final two semesters at school.

Therefore, I moved up my 'departure' from the library by...

About a year!

After talking to Savvy and Texter (who are behind it 200%), I felt like a giant weight lifted off my shoulders. I don't have to worry about juggling schedules between my work and Texter's school. If Lady K gets sick and can't go to daycare, I can watch her - no problem. Housework and meals can be organized and accomplished. We can explore Montana this summer before we leave next year.

I can have ME time!

And speaking of me time...


No, I haven't been reduced to being a bag lady. However, these are four of the many projects I have in the works. And it made me realize...

I need project bags! Nicely made ones! I have scraps! I need to make project bags!

And so another 'to-do' added to my growing list.


From left to right, Trout Creek Shawl (my all-Montana shawl), Vanilla Socks, 'To Eyre' Shawl (which was a monthly kit from Kitterly.com and the Helix Stripe Handwarmers from A Year of Techniques on Mason-Dixon knitting.  This doesn't include the 1/2 finished sweater I set aside. Or the shawl (with beads) which starts a KAL tomorrow. Or the other dozen knitting projects I have in the closet.

Or sewing...

Most of my sewing/quilting made it out ok. I still can't locate the patterns I ordered from Australia, but will have to see if I can't locate them in my stuff one day.

And...

The serger I was given, but don't really know how to operate. As it turns out, a friend KNOWS sergers! And so I will be getting serger tutorials from her this next year. 

And I have my basic Singer sewing machine which will do ok for most of what I want to do. It's fine except for the bobbin. You have to take the machine apart and stand on your head to change the bobbin and it's a 'beginner' machine. Go figure.

So the summer will be filled with swim lessons and exploring Montana. Picnics and strolls. Playing in the yard. Then in the fall I will have tons of time for not only keeping up on housework and meals, but time for me! The spring will be tying up loose ends, packing and preparing for the 2200 miles back to North Carolina and a new house.

Did I mention I needed project bags?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Four Years Ago...


Four years ago Lady K arrived in our lives.

And in true Lady K style, couldn't wait until we actually arrived at our designation, but came the day before we would have arrived.


We were semi-prepared for a delivery on the way, but it took some luggage rearranging to find the diapers and clothes and bottles we had packed for the trip.


The blanket she is in...one I had made for Savvy which Texter claimed when she came along. There has been a bit of mending on it over the past 26 years, but it is still around. (And survived the fire.)

Now that head is covered in curly blonde hair. And the brain underneath it is going 24/7. We have singing and laughing and meltdowns. Sometimes all within minutes of each other.

There is a very definite personality at age 4 and she isn't afraid to let you know it.

But this weekend we are celebrating her birthday with a weekend trip to Billings and the zoo and the mall. And in true genetic breeding, she has asked to go to the bookstore! (Ok..so she gets a free cookie at Barnes and Noble, but it's still going to the bookstore!)

The past four years has been a wild ride on many fronts. A 2400 mile move away from the part of the country her mother was raised in. A divorce. Going to 'school' and learning. Some sensitivity and immune issues diagnosed and being worked on. A devastating fire.

But through it all, her mother has held on and protected her. Aunt Savvy and Uncle CJ there to lend a hand. Grandparents from the other side of the country ready to help out when and were they can.

And for her fifth birthday next year, her 'school' will be almost over with, as will her mother's. Then we will reverse directions and head back to North Carolina.

Yep, for her short life, it has been a wild ride!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sometimes You Just Have to "Frog" It


This isn't my first foray into sock knitting. But I am wanting handmade socks! 

I have been watching several YouTube podcasters and so, so, so want to knit socks. (It's also an excuse to buy yummy yarns!)

The one pair I finished was a worseted weight yarn sock, more of a slipper than a sock. And the other pair...well, never made it past the single sock.

In neither pair do I remember heels being difficult.

This pattern calls for a German Short Row heel. Ok, a few videos later and I'm in. But the 'love' wasn't there. Holes in the 'seam' were, but not loving it. And I realized, while I could carry on and no one would be the wiser, I would know. And not be happy every time I put on the sock, knowing I didn't like the heel of at least one sock. 


So I ripped out the offending heel. 

Now I have to go back and pick up a few dropped stitches and 'clean up' my fit of ripping out. And give 'fish-lips' a try. (Yes, I could have done a more careful ripping out, but...well...I didn't.)

When the lighting is better, I'll go make sure I have all 64 stitches accounted for and resume my foray into sock knitting.

But life is like that. Sometimes you just have to rip out the offending part and start over again to make it better. Sometimes you can live with the mistakes and other times, it's a do-over. 

Luckily, this time it's just a sock.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Week in Review - March 12 - 18 - The Week of the Tonsils!

This past week has been centered around Lady K and her tonsil removal. There are times I feel we have ALL had surgery! But she is well on the way to recovery. Unfortunately, with her sensitivity issues, we have had many meltdowns (by her) this week. Hopefully, it will start on the upward swing this coming week and then back to normal.

But one of the hardest things is keeping her entertained and quiet.

We started some seeds on Saturday and ran to Home Depot to get some plant markers (which we didn't use). There, Texter and Lady K discovered the fairy garden display. I am not placing money on the whole "she wanted them" excuse from Texter.

Back at the house, they put them in the flower bed under the window where I watch her play. And she sat there happily talking away to the dog and hedgehog and rearranging bits and pieces. I have a feeling this will be part of her summer activity. 

I had received A Passion for Bread by Lionel Vatinet this week. Think La Farm Bakery in Cary, North Carolina.


This was always a favor bribe treat for the girls. White Chocolate Baguettes were a favorite of all of us and Asiago Bread one for Savvy.


This is the before picture. The other four were in the oven already. I did go out and buy a bread stone this week.

Directions were clear and easy to follow and now I need a scale so I can actually weigh out ingredients rather than measure...but...

They were good! 

Not all that time intensive and still just the right amount of sweetness without being overpowering. 

And I went and got a large stainless steel bowl to put over them in the initial cooking stage. The La Farm Bakery ones are not 'crunchy', but rather a bit soft.

On the counter, the asiago cheese cubes are reaching room temperature so I can make up a batch and let it proof while at work today.

Another 'biggie' this week was...


The release of the new 'Beauty and the Beast'!

The local theater did a pre-release on Thursday evening and Texter, Lady K and I trooped off. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale in all it's renditions.

The movie did not disappoint! Awaiting arrival of the soundtrack on Monday. (Savvy already bought it in digital form, but I want the CD so we can put it in the car and maybe not listen to the same 4 songs from 'Sing!')

Friday, before work, Texter, Lady K and I took a stroll downtown. I needed postcards, cards and stamps and hopefully would tire Lady K out some. It's been a daily struggle to get her to drink (eating  hasn't been a problem) and she wants to walk. Costco has been a huge savior.


So I am restocked on cards and postcards and instead of buying the circular international stamp for the postcards, I bought various denominations to cobble together something more interesting. And some cards for writing to friends.  

So while we have been basically monitoring Lady K this week, I started the Grand Central Socks by Mina Phillips while waiting for her surgery to be over with. This is one of several socks I have planned. 


I was excited. I cranked out the top part of the sock rather quickly, despite numerous interruptions. And then came the heel. 


First off, I had to compound the issue by making a contrasting heel (and toe) a'la the Yarn Hoarder.

Then there is a new technique (to me) of German Short Rows. Sigh... And a bit of a mini-flap because of my big feet.

So working on the heel (and it's not finished yet) took most of my knitting time on Saturday. Hopefully the next one will go faster. Especially since Mina Phillips has a monthly sock pattern coming out of which I have subscribed to. 

So for the coming week...

  • Finish up the Grand Central Socks and get back on the Helix Stripe arm warmers (or at least plan on taking them with us next weekend to Billings)
  • Make Asiago Bread and see if it is halfway as good as the original La Farm bread is.
  • Finalize plans for National Letter Writing Month Program for the library
  • Pull together handouts for the above and my Writer's Roundtable program in April
  • Pull together 2500 words of Bite Me for critique at MisCon.
  • Send out postcards for Postcrossing
  • Hopefully get my 'Yarn of the Month' kit from Kitterly.com
  • Get chairs and wagon off the porch at The Temple of Fire (and maybe some buckets for planting)

But now...

Off for more coffee and start a batch of dough...by hand...because the stand mixer which is still ok is in the basement of the Temple of Fire and I have get it and order bowls and blades to replace the ones we 'lost'.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Year of Techniques - Helix Stripes

I decided to join in on this monthly technique program, mainly because I am self-taught on most of my knitting skills.

The first month (March) is about stripes and how to knit them in the round without having a little 'jog'  at the point where you switch colors. 

For some reason, when I started these arm warmers, my fingers couldn't get started at all. I don't know if it was the small needle size or what, but there is more than one mistake in my ribbing to say the least. 

And it's all me. The method of striping is simple!


I was a  bit worried at first there was not going to be enough different in color value for the stripes to show up, it works fine and I am liking the look of them.  Just a tad more and I can put in the thumb gusset. Which will probably happen today while awaiting at the doctor's surgery for Lady K to have her tonsils out.

I am excited to see what's on tap for April!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Princess Tea 2017


Sunday was the 'delivery' of Aunt Savvy's birthday present to Lady K - The Princess Tea!

The theme this year was Belle (since the movie is being released Friday). Even the cupcakes were suppose to mimic Belle's dress.


Books and red roses decorated all the tables. This year, instead of glass tea cups, we had mugs with the date on them. I think I like these better.


Complete with tiara, someone was trying to take in everything.


And after the 'meanies' were shown the stage exit...


A little princess claimed the stage and twirled.

Then came the Princess Parade and the 'princess of the day' got to walk in with them. Lady K was paired with Tinkerbell (who is also a friend).


But Tinkerbell, being Tinkerbell, wasn't always behaving...




Helena Playable Playgrounds and Jensen Jewelers go all out on this. Before everything settles down, you can go around and take pictures of the princesses with appropriate backgrounds. And all the princesses look like they stepped from the movies.


But it's not all princesses. There are princes too. And this one also makes a wicked grilled/smoked chicken.


Despite Grandma (me) and Aunt Savvy being Belle fans, Lady K selected Elsa as her princess to sit with this year.


Not only was Elsa beautiful in her gown, but she was so fantastic with her two little princesses and all those who walked up to her. Lady K got a royal seat for viewing the dancers.

Once again, a great afternoon. Money generated from this event each year (this was year 5) goes to improving playgrounds in the Helena area. We have one more year we can attend before we head back to North Carolina. This is one event we will miss.

Mandala Monday


'Lighten up, just enjoy life, smile more, laugh more, and don't get so worked up about things.'

-Kenneth Branagh

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Week In Review - March 5 - 11


  • Lularoe Pop-up Party with Alyssa Bones
  • Bought Savvy a FitBit so we can encourage each other to be more fit
  • Kimberly Wilson Virtual Retreat 
  • Savvy went to Chicago to see Hamilton with a friend
  • Prepping for Lady K's tonsil removal next week
  • Set up a project notebook since old one is a tad water soaked at this time
  • Was gifted the lovely orchid above
  • Attended the Wedding Stroll to pick up my Lularoe, bought more and won $75 in clothes (waiting for them to restock) and a Mystery Item to come

After stopping by and picking up our clothes, Texter and I treated Lady K to a carousel ride. She LOVES carousel rides.



Before our outing, I finished up the rice bags and ice pack covers. Texter has a bad cold/sinus infection and wanted packs to heat and put on her head and neck.



As I was filling the bags, the cat one was a little 'empty', so I added some flax seeds. I also added lavender to that one. Nothing better than snuggling with something warm and smelling of lavender. I have a feeling once Savvy returns from her weekend in Chicago, watching Hamilton and bar-hopping, she will need it.

This past week was also filled with arrivals!


And speaking of projects, last night I sat down with my yarn I have acquired and updated my projects in Ravelry to show what I had planned for the yarn. I have two skeins of yarn which were gifted that doesn't have a project planned for them, but didn't want to pass them on as I like the color. Lots of socks! Now I have to pull a couple of old projects from the closet and update them on Ravelry and determine exactly where I am in the process. 

Not only have I set up project lists in Ravelry, I also started a new project notebook to hold details and pieces of the yarns. Will include fabric projects also.

But the biggest box was from Write On Campaign for National Letter Writing Month in April.




A tote bag, gel pens and 10 little notebooks to record addresses and notes.


An advent calendar of sorts and packets with letter writing supplies.


Six note cards, some stickers and a sheet to record the 30 letters you send out in April.


And a little pouch with a great pin (already on my lanyard at work) filled with confetti. All of this will be going to the opening event a the library for our Letter Writing Kick-off. Well, maybe not all.

While my Virtual Retreat did not go well...too many interruptions...I have access to it at any time and will give it a try on one of my Tuesdays when I am home alone. 

And while it snowed, yet again, it is melting quite nicely. Maybe spring will come soon.

BUT...the coming week...

LADY K IS HAVING HER TONSILS REMOVED!

After today's Princess Tea (can't wait, lots of fun) we will be stocking popsicles for after-surgery consumption. Texter has notified her instructors and we have work covered too, so good to go for the two week recovery period. And at the end, Lady K's birthday and a weekend trip to Billings for a trip to the Montana zoo and a trip to the mall.

Otherwise, a bit of knitting and lot of reading (hopefully).

Now, to make sure all the clocks are on the correct time and get another cup of coffee.



Friday, March 10, 2017

I'm A Material Girl

There is a problem with having a wonderful quilt store without spitting distance from work. And since I usually take a walk during my break, it just seems natural to wander in. Of course, the yarn store (small that it is) is just a few doors down.

Recently I have given into temptation and brought some fabric home with me even though I hate the basic Singer machine I have (you have to dismantle the machine to put in the bobbin.) And I don't really have a sewing table, I have to share my desk with my computer, so it's nothing I can put up and leave up.

But I am making some rice bags and cold pack bags for Texter and Lady K (and me). I purchased this flannel at Joann Fabrics as covers for the bags.


The other fabrics I have purchased I really have no immediate plans for, but am restocking my stash.


This was a pack of fat quarters I originally purchased for the packs before I went with flannel. The white actually has a white-on-white design which is hard to see in the picture. Now they will become something else.

The next three pictures are one yard cuts I bought because I may not ever find them again! 


I bought the piece with the cats, not seeing the piece with the books and cats until the next day! How could I not pass it up. Part of me wants to go back and buy more yardage of the book piece. I can see it as the backing of a quilt.


And continuing the cat theme...

Texter is into foxes so I had to pick these up.


The fabric on the left is a Hoffman Digital Print. They also have a bear print. When you unfold the panel the fox is merged with a forest scene. I have the pack for make a lap quilt/wall hanging, but for now I think Texter just wants to hang the panel as a picture. So the batiks may be used for something else.


And crows!

Do you see an animal theme here?


And while I have cut out pieces for three rice bags and three cold packs, I have not been neglecting my knitting. I have one Hadley sleeve started and the color-work done on it. It will probably go to the hospital with me Tuesday for Lady K's tonsil removal since it is mindless knitting for about 12 more inches.

My Year of Techniques is finally coming along. For some reason, the small needle size is giving me fits, even though I have used that size before and have several projects planned for tiny needles! But I think I am in the groove with it now. And the Yarn Quest 2017 scarf based Dragons and Dungeons is still there, but I have to really concentrate on it.

The fabric, except for the flannel, is going into my stash box for now. 

And did I mention I have a HUGE stack of books I need to get through? And another coming today!

Where can I find more time?

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Rolling in Dough....

sort of.

I am a failed sourdough starter person. I have tried to make a sourdough starter several times and for various reasons, it just didn't work.

While at Real Foods last week, I picked up a commercial sourdough starter packet. And I also had just bookmarked a sourdough starter recipe from one of my favorite bread people, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

Basically, I have 'dueling dough' going on.


This is an experiment to see if (1) I could actually get a starter 'started' and (2) what the difference in taste would be. One is from a commercial starter and the other is from wild yeast in the air. Already I can tell a difference in the smell of the starter.

The one of the left is from Cultures for Health and is in my recycled pickle jar. It starts out with only one tablespoon of flour and water plus the starter packet, adding more every 12-24 hours. 


So it's not a pretty container, but it's working. 


And then my Artisan Bread sourdough starter in the bigger jar. You use 1/2 cup of flour and water every 24 hours, with a skip on day 3.

I am going to have to 'beef up' the starter in the pickle jar so I will have enough at the end of a week to make a loaf of bread. The Artisan Bread starter will be good to go for dough at the same time.


Monday morning was Day 4 in the process. Bubbling along and starting to bubble almost immediately after being fed. They will be ready (if all goes according to plan) for making bread the end of the week. I will make up the dough and let it set for 24 hours to really get the sourdough taste (hopefully). There will be a taste-off this weekend to see which one I like best.

Unfortunately, Savvy will be out of town for the first tasting and she is my real bread taster. 

I am thrilled so far with the results. Usually something happens and it doesn't even get this far. On one occasion Texter 'baked' my starter which I had put in the oven to keep warm. Of course, for some reason, I always want to start trying in the winter when keeping the starter warm is an issue.

But we are bubbling right along and I can't wait until this weekend!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

What's Cooking?

While I am waiting for my box of food from Blue Apron (had a discount coupon to try), I have been busy in the kitchen.

First, I created a weeks worth of lunches for us. A bit of intensive work up front, but the girls (or at least Savvy) seem to like being able to pull out a meal and go.

I made a couple of new recipes which will be keepers.

First up, is Thai Basil Chicken by Gimme Some Oven. I have been following Ali for a while now and she hasn't steered me wrong yet on a recipe. Her Cherry Pie Smoothie is also a winner I have tried recently.



I used chicken thighs rather than breasts because I think they stay moister and are more flavorful. Definitely a repeat recipe for Savvy and me.

Then Sunday morning, I tried Baked Apple Pancake for Texter, Lady K and me.



This was the first time I have used whipped egg whites to make a 'fluffy' pancake. And I have now invested in real maple syrup. Also a repeat recipe.

While I didn't take any pictures of it, I also tried Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Pork Sliders. Not too sweet and I made full size sandwiches. Without the cole slaw as it smelled so good and I was hungry. CJ and Texter have had a sandwich or two out of it.  Another repeat recipe.

The reason for so many new recipes? I'm braindead. I can't think of what I use to fix and I want to branch out also. I have started a new notebook of recipes to try and notes on whether or not I want to use it again. And looking for more healthy recipes. 

Plus, it keeps me out of the fast-food lane!