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Thursday, December 25, 2014

May the Spirit

Good Evening Readers,

Woodpeckers on the suet in our rain greened lawn... so much for snow for this Alaskan kid.
As I chug along making dinner for us tonight I hope you all are spending your time in a similar fashion doing what brings you and your loved ones joy.
What's a Christmas dinner without my home candied nuts? Please, just because it's a holiday doesn't mean I'm not twisted, run with the unsaid joke...
I hope you had a relaxing holiday as I did today. May you surround yourself with those you consider your family and love as yours. Shower not only your loved ones with your affection, but yourself too.

Nothing says Christmas like homemade cranberry sauce! Yum.
I myself have enjoyed three whole episodes of Downton Abby, and The Guy suffered through them with me... Ah, Love...

MMmmmmm... Cheese sauce.
Truly, I hope these holiday wishes find you safe and warm today and throughout the winter.

Nothing says Love like Potatoes Au Gratin and Glazed Ham, no?

And may the new year bestow blessings upon us all.

Merry Christmas, and to all a Good Night!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

And So We Begin Again

What begins again you ask? To me, the new year. I know, it's not truly the new year, but to me the Winter Solstice always feels like the beginning of a new year. The return of the sun harkens spring and new growth much more than what feels like the arbitrary placement of New Years on the common calendar.

The Solstice Sun's Arc over the Tyrrhenian Sea from the coast of Italy in 2005. Photo originally posted to and credited and copyright: Danilo Pivato
So, in my minds eye, the new year begins today. With that being said I've been looking back on this last year a lot the last couple weeks. It's been a doozy with two major household moves (one 1,900 miles), new jobs for both of us, the loss of Shiela, and countless other changes. Here's hoping 2015 is a bit quieter but no less fun.

the other morning I laid in bed (after walking the dogs mind you and getting a bruised hip in thanks) and watched the sun come up for a few minutes, and found myself looking forward to the return of the light more this year than previously. With my current schedule I'm seeing very little of the light, and with our local dearth of snow, when I'm out with the dogs it is very dark indeed. So much so that The Guy pointed out how filthy a local trail is getting with dog crap and I couldn't even find myself agreeing; because when I'm on that stretch of trail in the morning, it's dark and cold. I haven't actually seen the reported dog turds, nor smelled them. The latter being a small blessing of this time of year mind you.

With this feeling of darkness I for some reason have been feeling that my fiber pursuits production was down this year, which for some reason makes me feel as though I'm a lazy unproductive bump on a log, and I wonder where all my time went, sitting in front of the boob tube? So, I've been looking back at my projects of this past year, and the books I've listened to while working with my hands and I suddenly feel much better about how I spent my time in 2014. For I realized that I knit 12 pairs of socks in one year, each pair being on an average of around 20,000+ stitches and 350 yards of yarn per pair. That means just those projects alone left me with about a quarter million stitches and over 2 full miles of yarn knitted into said stitches to my name for a year.

Then I looked at the fact that I just finished up the last unfinished item in my queue which was the second of two large shawls knit in sock yarn, both taking up about 3 skeins of yarn apiece and the  fact that it was designed on the needles as I knit it. Then there's the realization that I designed and knit the mystery knit along for the yarn store, which was another 900 yards of yarn (which I just discovered I never got a picture of it for the blog! I will work on rectifying that this week), and there were nine other smaller projects that if I play on the conservative side of approximating the yardage knit, was around 1550yards of yarn. Which all together means I knit about 8750 or just shy of 5 miles worth of yarn this year. And now, I don't feel nearly so unproductive, though I'm sure there were other things I could have been doing with that time mind you, and let us not discuss how much spinning I did this year.

Lets not discuss the tediousness and frustration of a double picot edge. Why did I come up with this idea of self torture? Some people... No, I have my limits people, and I will not torture myself more so with sitting down and writing out this pattern either. It was long and boring, believe me, you don't want to do it.
I can tell you that in the Tour de Fleece alone, I spun 5827 or 3.3 miles of yarn and then my other two big spinning projects for the year were an additional 1670 yards and 3976 yards so all together about 11470 yards of yarn spun or six and a half miles.

So, with all that said, and the purple and pink beast above (Peacocks in the Vineyard) I am going to start something for me. Yes, for me... What is that little green square? The beginning of a sweater (Redford) that I've been looking at for almost 2 years now. It is mine!!! Or, it will be in about a month I hope. That is if I stop screwing it up. Of course, it's amazing how much better it went when I said to myself, "Screw what the pattern says, do it your way." I went from tearing out the first 12 rows of that square four different time, so getting all the way through the first round of decreases. The yarn is a Louisa Hardings Aimee which is a 90% Cotton/10% Cashmere yarn. And yes, i'm knitting myself a cotton sweater. Why? Because I realized one day when I was thinking about buying this yarn and kept coming back to the fact that it was a cotton yarn, that all of my favorite store bough sweaters are actually cotton... So, go with what I know I like and will wear, no?

So, with all that said, I hope the solstice treats you all well and here's to another year of watching the ebb and flow of sunlight and seasons with you all. Do something for you this year.

Oh, and eat good too. To celebrate I made a little tropical inspired dish for dinner tonight that is sitting in the fridge awaiting baking. A Chorizo and Cornbread Strata. The Guy made cornbread (from a package mind you... from a package...) for a work gathering so I broke up the leftover and layered it with fresh browned chorizo, green onions, salsa, corn, cheese, and chopped asparagus. Beat up 8 eggs, and a enough milk to bring it all to about 4 cups of liquid, dumped it over the top, let it sit in the fridge overnight and I'm going to bake it tonight at 350 degrees for 45min-an hour or until it's firm and browned. Yep, that's as close as a recipe as your going to get out of me, I create recipes like I create knit shawls, Just Do It Baby! And for those that stear clear of mystery Mexican meat sausage or pork products, I think ground turkey spiced up with a bit of crushed peppers and green chiles would work great too... Just say'n Sara.

Now stop wasting time on the computer and go play in the sun, or knit. Or spin. Just go do something for you.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Good Morning!

Well, here it isn't morning anymore. We've moved onto afternoon, but a cool foggy one it is.

A wlk in the fog. Cleared up enough for a quick shot at the lake. Well, quick it wasn't as the boys refused to sit and look at me all together. Buggers
We had a work gathering here last night so the last couple days when not spent at work have been spent cleaning. Not that the house is filthy, but with three rambunctious dogs and our own time minimal, it needed a thorough clean up. And then there's the matter of the pies I had to bake.

Have to investigate the mole his and other diggings thoroughly.
Well, "had to" is not the word I should really use. I chose to. As the Guy pointed out a couple times, I could have bought Jello pudding pie mix; but let's face it, that's not how I work. I made a spectacular from scratch chocolate silk pie and that pumpkin I transformed last weekend became a delicious pie of its own. I still have left overs of the pumpkin pie... Yay!

I had to snap a shot of someone's "handy work" 
So today, we're playing things kind of mellow. I just through a pot of turkey soup together to use up the last of Thanksgivings slowly drying turkey. I should have made it last week, but I decided it was a great foggy day post party meal. That makes it sound like we partied hard. I think it feels like we did today just because it was a long week and we were ready to just relax about the time people were showing up. But it was a fairly mellow gathering and we were still in bed about the usual time.

While on the walk, I saw this little feather with the water drops on it and thought it would make a neat picture. I somehow over looked the goose poop, but when I got it home I laughed so hard I had to include it. Some people...
Mourning doves are still around scrounging for food. Sorry, the phone camera wants to focus on the window screen...
So, now that I actually have a day off I'm thinking I may pop in a movie and finish up whats on the knitting needles. Sounds like a plan, no? I really should dress the loom and start a weaving project, but that sounds like a dreadful lot of work right now.

Again, it's a touch blurry due to the window screen, but I love these bright guys! Them and the woodpeckers at the feeders are my favorite ones to see.
And I want relaxation. Maybe a nap even... Yeah right, but it was a nice thought. Too bad I can't nap and knit at the same time.

Now, time for some internet housekeeping too. Some of you have seen me link to my friend Betsy's blog before. I often link there for her wonderful photos around my hometown and state. Well, she has taken on a HUGE project of starting a nonprofit to help protect the Round Island Walrus Sanctuary that lost it's funding this last year due to some wonderful bureaucratic foresight. That's as much politicing as I'll add of my own, but you know what I mean. If such things interest you, the WARIS (Walrus Advocates of Round Island Sanctuary) website can be found by following that link. Originally they only had a Facebook page and since I'm not a face booker I wasn't able to share that with you all. I somehow overlooked that they have a website now, but since I now know of it's existence, I wanted to share it with you all. It's a small group that is just getting up and going under it's own steam. Just something neat that I want to share the existence of.

Also, for those interested in Knit Alongs (I won't explain what that is to those who don't knit and most likely therefor don't care), the Wyoming Fiber Skeinks has a small group that will be doing the Fox Paws pattern as a Knit Along. We'll be e-gathering HERE for that even starting the beginning of February. I know, any non-knitters that read this far are thinking, February? Yes, February. We're ass deep in christmas knitting season right now, and January is meant for getting all the tardy Christmas projects wrapped up, therefore, February. Warning, if you read the YarnHarlot you will see that this is not appropriate Superbowl knitting. Just a heads up.

Now, there's something else I thought I wanted to mention today, and obviously my memory is failing me for I have no idea what it is. I better put Ginko Biloba on my list to pick up at the grocery store... Oh, I remember what it was.

This last week I listened to Hidden Girl which is the story of a young woman who was sold by her family in Egypt into household slavery. From Egypt she was brought to America where she was eventually discovered and freed. She is now a United States Citizen who is working towards a goal of becoming an ICE officer. The book was, okay, I've read better but it was interesting. She mentioned that you could take the US Citizenship test online. Of course, I had to try it, and the good news is I passed. I even passed with what would have been an A at 92% on the first section and 100% on the second. I think it's actually a neat little resource to challenge your knowledge with. The total test has 100 questions, and it's broke into four 25question sections. The true test that happens for those naturalizing is a 10 question test comprised on any 10 of those 100 questions. They must get 6 right to pass. Give it a shot and see what you can recall.

Is that enough links for one post? Yeah? Okay, off to be lazy the rest of the day. You guys have a good lazy Sunday too.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Goodbye My Good Cooking Buddy... Goodbye.

That's right, today at 336pm, the death nell of my good cooking buddy was sounded through my kitchen by the sonorous tolling of cracking cast iron.

WWwwhhhuuuuuuutt!?! That's right, I managed to crack the bottom of my cast iron dutch oven that has seen me through many a batch of corn bread, roasts, and batches of Julia Childs Beef Bourguignon.

See that crack running diagonally down from the left? Doesn't seem like much, does it? But juices had already flowed into and through it by the time I had figured out what the noise had been. The crack had to searched for though I could feel it with the edge of the spatula.

How did I manage this you ask? By browning the sides of the nights rib eye roast before putting it in the oven to be roasted to tender deliciousness. It still got roasted mind you, just not as I had planned. I'm guessing since after talking to my mother and finding out that she didn't even know how old this pot was as she had bought it from someone else, it was probably due to age. It had been around in our kitchen ever since I could recall and I happily took it when it was offered to me. The bottom had started to become curved with rehearings and coolings, and lets face it, even metal ages. Metal that has been lovingly scraped and seasoned, can fail still.

My earthenware covered stone baker saved the day however and I saved the roast and laid the loss low with a feast that it deserved.

Oh, and a generous serving of wine helped with my grief too.

In fact, much of the day was spent in the kitchen. Its a way I don't mind spending days and as I had today off... I know, I hear you gasping with disbelief! I get another day off next Sunday! But as I said, I don't mind spending the day this way, I hacked into my pumpkins so I can make fresh pumpkin pie next weekend. I know, I can hear you asking yourselves, "What? Fresh pumpkin pie? Where's the can?" Well, that my dears, is not fresh pumpkin pie.

This is. Look at all that delicious pumpkin just waiting to go in the food processor! And I get pumpkin seeds to boot! It's a win-win and as I spent 99 cents on each pumpkin, it's a bit cheaper than buying a can of pumpkin too. Not much, but a bit.

Best yet, is what I make is already spiced. That's right, I can mix in the eggs and the milk and throw it all in the made by hand crust (really, what else were you expecting from me?) and bake it all up to wonderful deliciousness. Oh, and whip up a batch of homemade bourbon whip cream too... I know you're going to ask, so this is what I do.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops from two small baker pumpkins. Slice into quarters and scoop out the seeds and set aside for later toasting. Melt 3/4 cup butter. Spoon it into the quarters the butter, top with a couple genorous scoops of pumpkin pie spice/brown sugar mix (1 batch of pie spice mix and 1cup of brown sugar premixed and set aside) and stir it all up and slather the inside edge of the pumpkins. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until a fork slides easily though the meat of each quarter. Allow to cool until handling is able to be done with out burning oneself, peel the now easily separated skin and place the meat into a food processor. If you allow them to cool completely skinning becomes a bit tougher. I typically cut each quarter into smaller easier to handle pieces for this step and leave the baked spice in place as I dump it all into the food processor. Whir it all up until it is the right consistency. You shouldn't need to add any liquid. It can keep like this in the fridge for a couple weeks or you can freeze or even can it from this point if you so wish. If you can it, you MUST bring it to a full boil and keep there for the desired amount of time. Pumpkins are full of natural sugars of their own and can spoil if not canned at full temperature.

Now, I hear you asking, "What is pumpkin pie spice?" Well, it's whatever you want it to be, but what I use for this recipe is:
4 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons nutmeg (2-3 if freshly ground which is always preferrable) .
4 teaspoons ginger
3 teaspoons allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground clove

Now, this mix is dependent upon your families tastes mind you. Some people feel a bit strongly about nutmeg and cloves. For them I would suggest less of those spices, but I like this blend myself and even normally have it made up and in my spice cabinet stored in old recycled empty spice jars. I often use it for baking apples or other things such as pumpkin bread. Who wants bland pie or other baked goods after all? As for if you have left over butter and spice that didn't fit on the baking quarters I set it aside and when it all comes out of the oven I throw it in with what goes in the food processor because if you've ever seen me cook, these measurements are only really approximations. I just grab the little spoon and scoop and smell until the blend's aroma seems right. Mmmhmmm. Scrumptious. This nose hasn't led me to far astray yet.

And that my dears, is how I make my pie filling. But don't forget the best part! Whip cream! Ask any kid, they know this is the best.

One liquid cup of heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon.

Throw that all in the beater bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to chill along with the beater itself. Beat on high until soft mounds form. DO NOT beat it until it is stiff. This is not meringue. It's Whipped cream!

I know, I hear you all cringing at the though, "BOURBON?!?" It's okay, I promise. I don't use just any old sludge of bourbon either. I use Wild Turkey's "American Honey" It is smooth stuff, and before you judge me, I suggest you try it, then don't judge, just "assess" my tastes and keep your opinion to yourself. Or at least write a humorous blog post of your own about it and shoot me the link. And if you don't let the kids eat all the whip cream by themselves, they won't even get a buzz. You'll have to worry about the sugar buzz more. Heck, you might want to give them a a couple fingers of bourbon to take the edge off that. Let them worry about diabetes and liver failure later in life.

Okay, I think that's it for the night. Hope you all had a great weekend. I'm off to knit since I didn't last night. I got Christmas cards written and addressed! Can you believe it?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Well, we went and did it.

See that?

Yep, it's a Christmas tree. And not even a fake one. I wasn't sure when we ditched the old fake one in Casper if there was a reason to be packing up some of the decorations, but I guess there was. It's not leaning, but it has a funky shape to it and has a definite bow to the trunk and the branches we discovered when we got it home are longer on one side.

I chased the guy off to read the paper while I decorated after a snide comment about my lights before I even started getting them on. It takes some tinkering, it does. This picture looks like I did some filter tinkering but I didn't. I think it was just a combination of the tree lights and the light coming in from the kitchen that did something.

We don't have a lot of decorations but that's okay. What survived the thinning and the move about filled out this tree perfectly. We'll look for a real star topper this year and not just leave the Ol'Tigger up there.I can't wait to come home in the evenings to smell it and have the light bring a little shine to the evenings for the next three weeks or so. With a definite lack of snow I am feeling the dark this december and counting down to the solstice that is just a couple weeks away. With the long work days, I am walking the boys in the dark, going to work as the sun is just getting settled into the sky and coming home in the dark. I want light! Ah well... That's winter, right?

This is a Scott Pine, and it confirmed that I have a little pine allergy. Being winter it shouldn't be dropping any pollen so I'll be fine, but where just the needles prick me you can see what my skin does. I handled it gently but even after a couple washings and lotion by hands are burning a bit tonight. Just in case there's pine oil left somewhere on my hands I think I will skip flossing. That could be ugly. What's the holidays without a bit of contact dermatitis? I was careful to wear long sleeves as you see. I'm not completely foolish after this summers lines of blisters where I was scratched by those pine boughs in the yard. Makes so much more sense as an adult looking back on things that irritated my skin as a kid. Like the summer we thought I was having a mysterious allergy to grass and we had really cut down a pine in the yard and there was probably oil and sap still on the un-mowed grass I was laying in... Ahhh, that darn hind-site.

I hope everyone else's holidays are starting to light up. If your stressing, stop it. This is supposed to be a time of joy and love shared with those you surround yourself with. Not gifts and stress. Take a step back and rediscover the joy.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Blogger Distress!

So, I tried the other day to get on and make a post and it appeared blogger was down. Today, I keep having to refresh because things aren't loading properly. Argggh. Damn computers. Do they really save us the time they say they do? I know mine hasn't this week because when I couldn't get blogger to work I started to play on Youtube. And you know, that is a time suck like none other. Because then you start linking to other related videos... Let me just say, "BuzzFeed Videos".

Here's a sample of their hilarity.

Which of course leads me to this.

And then you're in the loop laughing at things like this... It's a vicious vicious cycle. Almost as bad as Wikipedia. Seriously, the other day I learned that Northern Cyprus is under Turkish control. Never knew that before. So in other words, I am blaming bloggers issues for my complete lack of being able to push away from Youtube.

So, since I have to get ready for work here shortly, and want to get a couple things done lets give you a quick update of the going-on's around here. We got snow. Lets not forget a bit of freezing rain. I was a bit worried last night on my way home with falling temperatures and this fine misty foggy rain, but today it's actually okay. However, now it's gone. Literally, gone.

You see, it warmed up and rained. A lot. We had a pond. However they say it's going to snow again this week. Fingers crossed. Let's have some real winter!

I've been working a lot of shifts, and that leaves me not feeling up to much when I get home, but I have got some knitting done between youtube sessions. Here's a cowl I threw on the needles to be able to go the movies with some knitting last weekend. It's done and needs to go live with Stefani for Christmas.

I got the gussets started and done on my final pair socks for the 12 months 12 socks challenge. Whew, I hate gussets.

However, I love the little sock monsters they make on my needles. yeah yeah, all knitters have love hate relationships with certain projects. Okay, maybe not but I can live with my strangeness. Can you?

We've had Michigan apples at all the stores so I made a pie this last week. No pumpkin pie for thanksgiving. Instead I had dutch apple! Yum.

And a pot of chicken and dumplings last week while it was wet, snowy and cold. I couldn't figure out why I was starving all week until it dawned on me that I was starting every morning off with shoveling, then dog walking before work.

And I decided that dogs didn't need to go to the yarn store during the holiday's while I was working anymore... Can you tell someone has already gotten themselves in trouble?

Okay, I need to get some more stuff done before heading to work. How have you all been?

And let me leave you with these jewels...