Thursday

[knitting] Mitered Mittens

Mitered Mittens


Mitered Mittens


Yarn: Handspun. Louet Northern Lights in the Toffee colorway.

Needles: US 7

Pattern: Mitered Mitten by Elizabeth Zimmerman in Knitter's Almanac.

Notes: I love these mittens. They're a little on the large size, but they work. The pattern calls for afterthought mittens, which consists of snipping the yarn at the center of the thumb placement after all the knitting is done. You unravel either side, pick up the live stitches and go.

Instead, I tried the mitten on as I knit. When the cuff came down as far over my wrist as I wanted and the stitches on the needles reached the crotch of my thumb and index finger, I knit the thumb stitches with waste yarn. Then I transfered those stitches back to the left needle. Then I carried on with the regular yarn. After completing the mittens, I removed the waste yarn, picked up the live stitched on the top and bottom and knit around.

Wednesday

[knitting] Sweet Surprise

I went to the Hat Club meeting at White River Yarns last night and the girls surprised me with a cake:

Cake


K - I - S - S - I - N - G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then come a b-

You know what. I think I'll stop there.

Tuesday

[movies] The Goonies

DOLLAR: You've never seen The Goonies?!?!

AMY: I've seen bits and pieces. Enough to know what it's about.

DOLLAR: You've never seen THE GOONIES?!?!

AMY: Not the whole way through but I can tell you what the movie's about, okay? A bunch of kids go hunting after treasure. One of the kids is fat and his friends humiliate him by making him do the truffle shuffle. Bad people are after the treasure as well. And there's this Frankenstein's monster guy who gets along with the fat kid because they're both outcasts. The end.

DOLLAR: [getting up] We going to watch it right now.

AMY: No, come on, I don't feel like-

DOLLAR: There is a REASON that this MOVIE [angrily tapping the dvd case] is the CULT CLASSIC of our generation!

###

So we watch it. Or, I watch the movie and Dollar watches me to make sure I'm giving the movie enough reverence.

The funniest part for me, the part where I was laughing so hard I had to take of my glasses off because tears were streaming down my face, was when Chunk was captured by the bad guys and the old lady says, "Tell us everything! Everything!"

CHUNK: Everything. OK! I'll talk! In third grade, I cheated on my history exam. In fourth grade, I stole my uncle Max's toupee and I glued it on my face when I was Moses in my Hebrew School play. In fifth grade, I knocked my sister Edie down the stairs and I blamed it on the dog... When my mom sent me to the summer camp for fat kids and then they served lunch I got nuts and I pigged out and they kicked me out... But the worst thing I ever done - I mixed a pot of fake puke at home and then I went to this movie theater, hid the puke in my jacket, climbed up to the balcony and then, t-t-then, I made a noise like this: hua-hua-hua-huaaaaaaa - and then I dumped it over the side, all over the people in the audience. And then, this was horrible, all the people started getting sick and throwing up all over each other. I never felt so bad in my entire life.

###

Hahahahahah. What's your favorite part of The Goonies?

Monday

[misc] Shopping: the good, the bad, the overpriced

Saturday my sister and I had a shop-tastic day. We left home at 11 am and didn't get back until 5:30 pm.

Vermont Country Store (Rockingham, VT): They've been in the news recently for starting to sell some racy items. Some people are outraged but I generally support "freedom of" anything, so I wanted to go shopping there. Not for the racy items, just to support them as a consumer. Well, we got there and it was zero fun. It was super crowded with out-of-staters, the store wasn't easy to navigate through and, worst of all, everything was overpriced. EV. ER. Y. THING. I bought a small bottle of maple syrup and a box of crackers and it came to nearly $20. (Syrup is going up to $50 per gallon this year but this was 1/2 pint for $14. Please.) While I support their right to sell whatever they want, I don't support their right to charge whatever they want. Two thumbs down.

Basketville (Putney, VT): We love this store. Baskets and fair prices. I got a nice double-sided cutting board (one side with extra grooves to catch juices when you're carving meat) for $20 (down from $40). My sister found the exact same dip mix that she got at the Vermont Country Store, for nearly half the price. Seriously aggravating. But Basketville is always a treat to visit. Never crowded, good prices, interesting items.

Green Mountain Spinnery (Putney, VT): Popped into here for a copy of Eric's Glovelets (Ravelry). I've had a lone skein of Sylvan Spirit for a while now and this is the perfect project for it. I also bought a copy of Wintergreen, since I have enough Mountain Mohair for these mittens.

Harrisville Designs (Harrisville, NH): This was "Meh" on the fun-o-rama scale. The shop sells lots of stuff (various knick-knacks and curiosities in addition to yarn and fiber) and they have so many great colors but the customer service was lacking. The woman checking me out made me feel bad that everything I was getting was from the bargain bin. I've never used their yarn before and wanted to try different kinds by getting discontinued colors from the bargain bin. It still came to more than $50 but the woman waved her hand at my stuff and said to someone else "Everything she's getting is from the bargain bin," in a dismissive tone. You might think I'm being overly critical or paranoid but when my sister and I first went to check out, she asked, "You guys aren't in a hurry, are you?". She was in the middle of writing up a loom sale and wondered if we could wait. We said sure and ended up standing five feet back from the register while the woman stared at us, waiting for the loom-buyer to come back from looking at yarn. We stood there for a few minutes, staring at each other, until she sighed and said, "Oh, I guess she's looking at yarn. I'll ring you out." It felt like a situation where it's okay for us to wait because we weren't spending as much as the loom-buyer, you know? But, I don't want to dissuade you (much); this mill is worth checking out.

Then we drove home. I immediately had to backtrack down to Claremont, NH to pick up Dollar from a poker game. Then we went out to dinner with his side of the family. We announced our engagement and I think his step-sisters and sister shattered all the glasses on all the tables with their screams of joy/surprise. I had complete strangers asking me at the salad bar if I was the one that got engaged.

[misc] Murderface Monday

Murderface


Murderface


Murderface


This photoshoot was taken at the foot of the bed. I steadied the camera on the footboard while inching a finger up the end of the mattress to get Murderface's attention. It was intense.

Sunday

[knitting] Taos Beanie

Taos Beanie


Pattern: Basic Hat, from The Handy Book of Knitting Patterns by Ann Budd

Needles: US 7

Yarn: Taos by Crystal Palace Yarns, one ball

Mods: None. I cast on 90 stitches, did the ribbing, increased up to 96, knit the body, started decreasing, (6 evenly spaced stitches decreased every other round, end.

LOVE this hat. It is very pretty and so soft.

Friday

[knitting] Felted drum pedal pouch

Dollar loooooooves Guitar Hero. He has all the games and all the guitars. I support his obsession with the games because it improves his dexterity when he plays his real guitars. We recently acquired Guitar Hero: World Tour, which comes with a larger guitar, a microphone and drum kit. I think Dollar has been on the drum kit every day since we've had it. It actually looks like a regular electronic drum kit, with a foot pedal and everything.

When not in use, the drums need to be slid back into a corner of the game room and it's difficult with the pedal, which is attached by a thin cable. You have to move the whole thing piecemeal- slide the drums back until the cable to the pedal is taut, slide the pedal to catch up, slide the drums back further, slide the pedal, etc. I thought a felted pedal pouch to hang from a bar under the drum heads would work better.

I improvised the design, so it came out a little wonky:

Drum Pedal Pouch
Front


Drum Pedal Pouch
Back


Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino, brown, almost a whole ball

Needles: US 10

It came out a little too wide at the top, but it works. I suppose I could knit and felt another (better) one but... I just don't love Guitar Hero enough. In fact, I kind of hate it.

Thursday

[misc] Murderface playing

Here's a short video of Murderface playing on the bed. It's grainy, dark and needs to be edited a bit. I'm in the process of finding free video editing software for a Mac. If you have any suggestions...



I'm using a striped cotton ribbon that was previously a drawstring in a pair of pajama pants. It's better than the old shoelaces I was using before.

P.S. Thank you for all the nice comments about my engagement :)

P.P.S Thank you, Poland Spring, for you new Eco-Shape Bottles. They are less rigid than your older bottles, allowing me to accidentally squeeze the first 4 ounces of water down the front of my shirt and into the lap of my pants.

Wednesday

[cooking] Smellier = Tastier

I recently made Ssam Bap for supper. It generally looks something like this.

Ssam, pronounced "sahm", means 'wrap'
Bap, pronounced "bahp", mean 'rice'

You put lettuce in your hand, add some rice, spicey-hot pork, gochujang and garlic. Then wrap/roll it up and apply to your mouth. It's so good.

I laid all the fixings out on the table and showed Dollar what to do. "See?" I said, "It's like a... a Korean taco." He made a valiant effort to eat it the proper way for a while but eventually just ate the pork and rice.

---

This past weekend I made Kimchi Jjigae (kimchi stew) and I've been banned from ever making it in the house again. I love the smell, but for someone who's not used to it... Dollar literally had the neck of his shirt up, covering his nose, with watery eyes all day. He designated his game room a Kimchi Free Zone (KMZ) and no kimchi is allowed inside.

This is how I described the soup to Dollar: "You use kimchi, but it needs to be sour. Kimchi that has gone a little past it's prime- you know, starting to go bad. Add some tuna fish and tofu-"

I had to stop because his eyes rolled back into his head and he fainted. As I was eating the soup (downstairs, alone, so sad), Murderface came over to check it out. Then he ran upstairs, seeking asylum in the KMZ. Even the cat can't be around it.

But in case you want to make it (and live alone), I highly recommend this video.

---

Tonight we're having fish sticks and tater tots.

Tuesday

[misc] Valentine's Day

Just a quick note to say that Dollar proposed to me on Valentine's Day. I said yes.

I will be Mrs. Dollar.

I love the man, I love the ring he chose, I can't wait to marry him and spend the rest of my life with him.

[knitting] Wisp, with a kind-of matching hat

Wisp


Yarn: Noro Kureyon Sock, one ball, color #229, purchased at Country Woolens in Lebanon, NH.

Needles: US 8

Pattern: Wisp

Mods: I omitted the buttons and button holes. I feel lucky that the colors lined up fairly well with the bars of fishnet lace and garter rows of the scarf, but I could fudge the row numbers here and there to ensure that the colors would stay in pattern. I used my blocking wires for the first time with this project. Lemme tell you, I'm thinking about not using them ever again because kneeling on a hardwood floor for more than an hour, sliding a thin metal rod over and under every stupid garter stitch along the edge was the epitome of NOT FUN. I would do 30 stitches, SIGH, slide the stitches, move the rod, SIGH, move a little to the left, curse my throbbing knees and aching back, SIGH, start the next 30 stitches and try not to think about the fact that I haven't even completed a third of the scarf.

And the yarn? I don't think I'll be buying it again. It was very sticky wool and would twist back around on itself. Which was frustrating. I washed the scarf before blocking and added LOTS of hair conditioner to soften the wool.

Anyway... I'm working on a hat to go with the scarf. Here's how they look together...

Scarf and hat set?


They're not the same colorway or even brand of yarn, but they both had similar jewel tones. The hat has really amazed me, though, to see the colors in the ball and the stripes that they are working up into. I'm pleasantly surprised.

Friday

[knitting] For cold ears

A co-worker approached me and asked for a hat. He has a rather large head (25 inches!), so it's difficult for him to find hats that fit. Also, it's his ears that are the main issue- they need to be covered. If his ears aren't covered, he's cold. So... what to do. My gut gurgled in the direction of an earflap hat, since I've done it twice. But I wanted to try something new.

What about a Ganomy...

Ganomy


I love it!

Pattern: Ganomy from Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman

Yarn: Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair (held double), in spice and clove.

Needle: US 9 (maybe 10?)

Mods: I rounded the crown, rather than following the pattern exactly (which has you decreasing slowly to a point, like this).

I love it! The Mountain Mohair is very soft and smooth, the fit is snug and it coverers the ears well. I had to make one for me...

Ganomy for Amy


This is MY Ganomy, knit with my toffee handspun. I spun 3 skeins so I am making matching mitered mittens (also from Knitter's Almanac)...

Mitered mittens


I've kind of stalled out approaching the thumb area. The pattern says to knit a mitered tube until you reach the tip of your pinkie, then decrease. Then you make an after-thought thumb: snip a stitch where you want the thumb to go and unravel either side. Pick up the live stitches and knit around to make a thumb. Which is clever but... I think I'll just figure out where I want the thumb to be, knit the thumb stitches with waste yarn, knit over the waste yarn and keep going. That's how I've done peasant thumbs in the past. I'm still not ready to cut my knitting (for steeks or any other reason).

Tuesday

[misc] Dried anchovies: It's what's for dinner.

[reading]

I read Stephanie Meyer's Twilight (because everyone and their mom was reading it) and it was... Okay. I got the 2nd book in the series, New Moon, to see if the story gets any better. No, it really doesn't. The main character, Bella, is completely co-dependant and after her boyfriend leaves her, she seeks a substitute support relationship in a male friend to validate her self-worth. There are no strong female characters in the book, they all make stupid decisions and I think there is a veiled attempt in the book to justify staying in an abusive relationship. A woman is severely disfigured due to her boyfriend getting mad, changing into a werewolf and slashing her up. But the couple is still together because they're so in love. The love in the air is palpable when they're together. It was a mistake and he feels bad about it all the time. ... Yeah, the book is full of these gems. Bella even says at one point, something like, "I don't matter, Edward. Your happiness is the only thing that's important." Barf. Can I please get a book where the female lead has some balls, please? But... you know... not literally. Cuz I already read Middlesex.

I pulled another teen-lit book from my library that I've read before and I remember really liking it: Sabriel by Garth Nix.

[watching]

Dollar and I have gone back to watching Smallville. We bought Season 7 around Christmas and started with Season 4 to refresh our memories.

[cooking]

This past Saturday my sister and I visited a Korean food store in Manchester, NH. We bought lots of stuff that my mom wanted (we had a list) and stuff I needed: various meat marinades, a 20 lb bag of rice (which I selfishly refused to split with my sister, making her buy her own bag), pancake mix, and some prepared dried anchovies (like this). Sunday my mom made kimchi and I helped to make pork dumplings. I've been in foodie heaven ever since. Nothing beats a simple supper of rice and kimchi- nothing!

[knitting]

Hats, hats and more hats. You'd think I have enough, what with knitting one every month for Hat Club at White River Yarns but... they're just so fast and easy.

[spinning]

Yeah, I wish.

[playing]

Pirate's Cove - We only played this once. The game was rocky the first time and it put some *cough*dollar*cough* people off. I really want to give this game another go soon.

Zooloretto - This was a very simple game for kids (collect animals for your zoo). I ordered all the expansions for the game and it really kicks it up to a more complicated, fun game. I give it 3 stars on it's own (I could see it getting old pretty fast) and 5 stars with the expansions.

Alhambra - Haven't even cracked this one open yet. Soon. Sooooon.

Thursday

[cooking] Beef Stew

Here's a recipe for a yummy stew. When it comes to fish stock, chicken stock and beef stock, I don't have cans and cans in my cupboards. I use a paste that I keep in the fridge or a power that I keep in the cupboard. You can get natural, organic, MSG-free kinds (Minor's, Better than Bouillon, etc) that will keep forever. Then you will always have stock for soups, stews, whatever.

Beef Stew

Serves 4-6

1 - 1.5 lb stewing beef
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 carrots, peeled, sliced

1/4 cup flour
4 tablespoons seasoning*
vegetable oil

1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 cup red wine

6 cups beef stock

3 tablespoons corn starch
3 tablespoons water

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat large dutch oven on med to med-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.

2. Mix flour and seasoning. Dust beef pieces with flour and add to the pot in batches. Brown on all sides. Remove browned beef from the pot to a dish. Add more vegetable oil (one tablespoon at a time) as needed but try to avoid using more than 4 tablespoons total.

3. Add diced onion and cook until softened (5 - 7 minutes), scraping up browned bits. Add garlic, cook another 2 minutes. Add thyme, cook another 2 minutes. Add red wine, cook for another 5 minutes, continuing to scrap any bits from the bottom of the pot. Add beef stock and browned beef back to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.

4. Skim any fat off the top of the stew!

5. Add potatoes and carrots, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or more (until you're ready to eat) until vegetables and meat are tender. Skim any more fat you see off the top of the stew.

6. Mix 3 tablespoons of water to 3 tablespoons of corn starch. The mixture should be smooth. Add to the stew slowly, stirring. Stop when the stew reaches your desired level of thickness. Simmer for another 5 - 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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* Notes: as for the "seasoning" I listed above, I have a small jar of generic "steak seasoning" that I sprinkle on steaks. I like adding this extra seasoning to the flour that I will dredge the beef in. You could use pretty much anything you think it suitable from your spice rack. Just, you know, be smart and don't use curry powder or anything that doesn't make sense in beef stew.