Monday, November 28, 2011

Up, Up and Away

We are headed back to Florida after an action-packed 10 days in Michigan. I think it will take me a few days to recover from the holidays!

I was able to spend time with most of my girlfriends, which is very important to me. Even though we text, email and phone while I am gone, it isn't the same as sitting down together for coffee, dinner, or even gambling! It always amazes me how time spent with friends can restore your soul. Thank you to all of my girlfriends - I am lucky to have you in my life - I feel very blessed.

Then there is the family - the real reason for being home for the holidays.

Our Thanksgiving at Ford Field in Detroit, watching the Packers/Lions game was a blast.

Two very happy Packer fans - oldest son and grandson Mason!

We had turkey leftovers at oldest step-daughter's house on the way home from the game and got to spend time with the 3 grandkids.

What a madhouse getting 4 of the 6 kids together - two are ages 5, 3 and 1.

We had our own Thanksgiving dinner on Sat night, with both of my sons and grandson. TanMan showed that he still knows how to cook a great meal.

On Black Friday I visited Your Local Yarn Shop , the new home of KalamazooKnits. Got to see what was new at the shop, talk with KellyJ about the new designs she is working on and spend some time catching up with my knitting mentor and good friend Susan!

YLYS knows how to rock a Black Friday - this year their grab bags were a huge hit - the bags were stuffed with patterns, yarn, gift cards, etc and the knitters were not disappointed with the value of their bags. I didn't buy any bags (something about my Dutch heritage that prevents me from spending $ when I don't know what I am buying), but Susan shared some of her yarn with me, so I felt the love anyway.

I did buy a couple of patterns there, Knitting Pure & Simple's Mukluks

and Fiber Trends's Children's Felted Clogs - thinking maybe they will be good Christmas gifts.

Speaking of knitting gifts, how are you coming on your list? I have 3 gifts completed, another one almost done and one more to go. Of course, I have a few others items I would like to knit, but not sure that will happen.

My Hip in Hemp skirt is getting in the way of the gift knitting. I am concerned that I don't have enough yarn, so I want to keep knitting to see if I have enough. It is kind of like when you are almost done with a project and the ball of yarn looks like you might run short, and you knit really fast, as if speed will compensate.

I am almost done knitting the latest KalamazooKnits pattern, designed by Kelly Jensen, called Just for Him.

It is a very cool hat pattern with a ribbed cuff and options for ear flaps. I actually finished the hat, but youngest son tried on the hat and I think I need to shorten the length a bit. I was working on it while TanMan was having a colonscopy & endoscopy, so I think I got carried away on the length, because it was nervous energy knitting. I just have to take an inch out and it will be perfect. More on the hat to follow.

And last, but not least, I want you, my faithful readers, to know how thankful I am for you! Many thanks to you all for following my knitting adventures! I wish you all a happy holiday season filled with great knitting!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I flew the coop

The holiday season has started for us. We have flown the Florida coop and returned to Michigan for 10 days of family fun. I am excited to see everyone and my biggest worry is that I won't have enough time to see all of my friends. So far, the time is allocated pretty much to family!

The last few days in Florida were busy. We have a home remodeling project that might start while we are gone and we needed to buy some items for our builder.

The project involves the guest bathroom (also known as TanMan's bathroom when no guests are in residence), the laundry closet and the coat closet in the entry way. They all join each other to make a rectangle of remodeling possibilities - as random as that may sound.

Our project in a nutshell...
Guest bathroom
- tear out half the wall and the door way separating the shower/toilet from the sink area. - Expand the 3 x 3 shower into a 3 x 4 shower, ripping out the yucky fiberglass enclosure and update it with tile. We will steal the extra foot of shower space from the entry closet.
- raise the ceilings if possible

Resulting collateral projects
- we need to re-tile the floor, since we will have untiled areas on the floor
- redo the walls, since there will be patching in a bunch of places
- update all of the towel bars, faucets, on and on (let's just say $400 at Home Depot).

Laundry Closet
We wanted to expand the toilet area into the laundry closet a bit but we ran into depth issues with the new fancy washer and dryer we wanted.

As luck would have it, our dryer broke a few weeks ago, so that timing worked out well. (TanMan might not agree on the timing issue, since he is the one who had to go to another building in our complex to use the coin operated dryers !)

We bought a new washer and dryer, but weren't able to get the fancy front loader and matching dryer to stack, but we did get a HE washer dryer that will fit in the space. Once TanMan pulled out the old equipment, it was clear it needed to be painted and that the old shelves won't do. So TamMan did a quick paint job yesterday - and we decided that now we need to put in new cupboards above the machines.

Of course, we should probably put in new doors while we are at it...

If this isn't scope creep (as we used to say at Pfizer), I don't know what is.

Then there are the two new ceiling fans we bought to replace the original one ins the bedrooms. When our builder saw those, he thought maybe we should have them wired to the wall switch, and then while we were at it, we might as well have the popcorn ceilings redone. Okay, I finally stopped the madness at that stage!! Just put up the fans and we can continue to turn them on and off with a pull chain. Oy.

Two rounds of visits to Home Depot and Lowe's, many sharp words and angry looks later, I hope we have most of what is needed. No wait, we forgot a new vanity light fixture and a new faucet for the sink...

I am just not a person who loves this kind of stuff... I know I will like the end product and I have no problem coming up with the big picture, it is just all of the details, complications and mushrooming costs that aren't my favorite.

And now it just occurred to me that I forgot to take before photos, darn.

Our flight was a few hours late and we should be landing soon. I will try to check in with you, but if I don't get the chance- have a great Thanksgiving.

Look for me at the Green Bay Packer / Detroit Lions game on turkey day -I will be the lady eating hot dogs instead of turkey, sitting with the son and grandson wearing Green Bay Packer shirts and the husband who is a Lion's fan.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Use It or Lose It?

The last few weeks have resulted in some humbling experiences for me and I'm starting to believe that the adage  "Use it or lose it" is true.

The day before I left to visit my girlfriends, I decided to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.    Making the dough was my first problem.  I thought I had checked the pantry to make sure we had all the ingredients, but I "assumed" we had the basics, like baking soda, vanilla.  Helloooo? doesn't anyone cook in this kitchen anymore??    Naturally, this required a quick trip to the grocery store (sidetracked by a stop at Bealls). 

Okay, got the dough mixed up and put the first batch in the oven.  I haven't baked in this oven much (no kidding, no vanilla?? no baking soda??), and I should have set the timer earlier and checked on the first batch was over baked  (not burned, just very brown).

I adjusted the timer for the next batch, and 10 short minutes later...oops, those were too brown too.

At this point TanMan is watching me and trying not to say something.  I can tell he is annoyed that I am ruining a good cookie.  I say nothing, he eats the dark ones, and I successfully bake two trays of cookies.

Last batch - you got it - I forgot to set the timer and actually burned those (not dark brown, not over baked...burned).

Luckily, I had enough to take to the girls and I left the bad ones for TanMan to eat when I was gone. 

I am kind of stubborn and needed to prove to myself that I haven't lost it, so when I returned, I decided to make my favorite biscotti recipe.  This time I made sure I had all of the ingredients before I started (see, I do learn from my mistakes...)   I put the almonds on a baking sheet to toast them up, I know they tend to burn easily, so I checked them.  Decided they needed to be stirred a little, so I was taking out the baking sheet, and hit the top of the oven, and spilled about 1/2 cup of almonds on the bottom of the oven.  Oops...they started to burn and I tried to scrape them out using a wooden spatula (which now has a nice, dark, edge to it).

The recipe said there is a a variation that adds almond extract to the dough.  Half way through the mixing, I wondered if maybe I used to make it that way??? still can't remember if I did or not...didn't have any in the pantry (no surprise there...), so it would have to do with just vanilla.   Spread the dough on the baking sheets, noticing that they really were spreading out, more than normal.  I put them in the oven and picked up the recipe to check on the baking time.   I guess I should have been wearing my reading glasses when I added the ingredients, I misread the quantity of flour, and left out 1/2 cup.  I guess that could explain why there were spreading too much??

I pulled out the baking sheets, and reshaped them a little since they had started to bake up, making them a little more normal in size.  At least I didn't burn them - in the first or second baking.  Finally a success!

I guess I don't want to "lose it", so what should I bake next??

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday Update

Wow, where did this week go? 

I spent a few days hanging with some girlfriends - we have been getting together once a year for maybe 8 years or so.  I have missed the last couple of years, so it was good to be with them again. 

I did get some knitting done. 

The Christmas gift in the lovely cream Berroco Vintage yarn is done.  Nice pattern, nice finished project. I will tell you all about it after the holiday. 

Next up for gift knitting is another project using Vintage in grey.  It will have to wait until I am back in MI where I can get the needles that I need!

Spring Fling socks are also done, in A Good Yarn's custom color way, Gil's Night Out.  Just in time for a cold snap here in Florida, and I am wearing them right now.

I am working like crazy on a linen skirt.  It is  a pattern from, called Hip in Hemp.  I am doing it in Louet's Euroflax , Champagne shade.  I am knitting it on size 5 needles, and the only pair I can find is the Zephyr acrylic Knit Picks.   Linen is hard enough to knit on, and I really need a set of the nickel plated needle tips.  I will be back in MI in a week, so I can get them then   (my main problem with living in two places - I don't always have the right equipment when and where I need it!)

While I was gone, TanMan painted the living room (we had picked out the color together!!). It looks lovely.  I guess I wasn't meant for plain white walls.  Lots of the decorating magazines say to use white and then get color from everything else, but it just seems too institutional and cold for me.  Luckily, TanMan is a great painter, and willing to take on the task.

My other task is to wind off mini-skeins of Koigu for my Etsy store.  I have 31 new colors, so I will be spending some quality time with my ball winder, swift and skein winder!

Tomorrow I am going to A Good Yarn's second anniversary celebration.  It is an incredible shop, with a group of "regulars" that make me feel right at home.  I am looking forward to the party (and maybe I will win one of their fabulous door prizes.). Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


It has been a while since I updated you on my knitting, so here is the rundown...

BeeKeeper's Quilt.
I have stopped all production on the Hexipuffs.  I still love them, but I need to work on holiday gifts. I continue to sell the mini-skeins at my Etsy shop, Mermaid Knitting.  I have 31 colors of Koigu headed my way, so I will need to spend some quality time with my winder and swift to create the 25 yard minis.

Featherlight Cardigan
This is definitely in hibernation.  Haven't worked on it since we arrived in Florida. 

Spring Fling
One sock done, another about 1/4 of the way done.  Looks like another hibernating...but I am spending a few days with girlfriends this weekend - am taking this project and might just finish them!!

Holiday Gift #1
Actually isn't a WIP - but a finished project.  Can't show a picture or give much detail, in case the recipient reads this post.   They are socks - very large socks - for a large man's foot - and best of all - they are DONE.

I used to love knitting socks, but not so much anymore. 

Sea Turtles
Okay, these have no real value, other than I thought they looked cute.  I am intrigued by the sea turtles, since the whole nesting process is such a big deal on the island.  This is my first crochet project since the Angry Birds craze.   Did you notice you can buy Angry Birds plush animals all over now??

This reminds me of my anatomy lab - although we only dissected frogs and cats (that I can remember..)

I bought the eyes from an Etsy shop, 6060.  The sent them out right away and work great.  She carries all kinds of eyes and other facial parts.  Great prices, great service.  They really add a lot to the look of the turtle, don't you think??

Finished (but still needs blocking)
Taygete, using Schaeffer, Anne.  

Next Project- Holiday Gift # 2
SHHH, this is another secret.

Then there is One MORE project that I am starting..  It is a skirt using Louet Euroflax linen, that several knitters are doing at the yarn shop.   I resisted buying the yarn last week, but broke down and bought it this week.  I had to do a second gauge swatch- they had to be washed and dried, so it was a pain.  I usually always get gauge, but based on my swatches, I need to go up a needle size. 

What are you working on?
Have you started your gift knitting yet?

I will be spending a few days with some girlfriends up in Hudson, FL.  This is the group of friends known as the "flamingos", and I haven't flocked with them for a few years.  I am looking forward to some quality girl time. 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Know a Good Divorce Attorney???

Today TanMan and I are venturing into rocky waters.   We have boring windows in our living room that need some curtains, so I have spent days planning and working on them.  

Actually, I have spent five days already on this stupid project.  Today is day 6.

Day 1: Figuring out what kind of window coverings I wanted.  I have been pondering this for almost a year, but I got serious on this day...

Day 2: Buying fabric, rods, etc.

Day 3 & 4: Sewing the valances.

Day 5: TanMan and I went shopping to buy additions to the rods to make them work.  New hardware to hang them, because we needed some additional support brackets.... and I knew the nightmare had started!!!

Note:  It is important to realize that while Days 1 - 4 are going on, I know that TanMan is wishing I would just call someone to come measure the windows, make the drapes and install them...  Of course, I don't want to spend the $1,000 plus it will I continue on my merry, albeit frugal way...

On Day 5, he was with me trying to help me get the right hardware, etc - we didn't argue, but I could tell he was having serious doubts.

Day 6 - Today

TanMan couldn't find his drill.  I found it on the shelf, where it should be.  I'm thinking he isn't committed to making this project work.

He had to go to the hardware store for a drill bit and those plastic things you put in the holes.  Then he needed help putting the drill bit in the drill.  Seriously???  Okay, here we go.

First far so good.  Doesn't he look like he knows what he is doing?

Okay, we have a lot of hardware to go,be back in an hour or so.  

All of the brackets for the valance are hung.  TanMan is sweaty, but not crabby yet.  He needed a break.

Next up, three rods for the  panels.

Okay, all the brackets are hung and I am ironing the panels.

OMG, I am so happy.  The panels hung without problems, everything is lined up perfect and I am happy.

Final picture aren't great, because the sun is coming around to the west now and causing too much contrast.  (maybe I'll take new pics tomorrow morning). 

But take my word for it, it totally changes the look of the room.  Never mind about the divorce attorney.