[misc] Visualizing a fire pit

Here's a pile o' rocks:


I'm going to start picking through it and collecting cantaloupe-sized stones. I'll wheelbarrow them to the back yard. I see a fire pit in my future. I see me sitting by this fire pit. Roasting weenies. Making s'mores. It will be epic!


[misc] Murderface Monday

Weather was unseasonably (i.e. frighteningly) nice here for a couple weeks. 84 degree days in March? Yikes. But everyone enjoyed having open windows in the house:

MF and Penny in the dining room.

Information on Santana's x-rays came back from the radiologist and she does not need surgery on her diaphragmatic hernia. We don't know when she was hit by a car and the hold could already have scar tissue covering it. She has some kind of bronchitis, which is asthma. She had a shot of antibiotics and a shot of cortisone. 

I'll watch for any coughing. It would be nice if she only needed to get a cortisone shot twice a year to curb the asthma. I really don't want to put her on pills or an inhaler. 

I need to make some changes around the house as well- fragrances or smells might trigger an allergic reaction, so I'm switching to unscented kitty litter and I'm not going to do my nails in the house any more.


I do it for you, Santana.


[knitting] $ Socks

Finished the Encore pair (I'll weave those ends in... someday. Probably just before I wrap up all the handknit socks to give to Dollar.):

$ocks - Encore

Started a new pair with Berroco Vintage:

$ocks - Vintage

This is the first time that I've knit with Vintage and I like it. It usually retails for $8 per 100gr / 217yd skein. I wound two skeins into balls and found no knots. The fiber content is 50% acrylic, 40% wool, 10% nylon.


[cross-stitch] QR Code

Subversive Cross Stitch had a nice sale (she often has nice sales) and I purchased two patterns. This QR code is one of them:

QR code

Yay, this is my first cross-stitch ever! It's only about 3.5 inches x 3.5 inches, so it's coaster-sized. I'd love to get a set of 4 coasters that you can put your own pictures inside of, and put in this cross stitch instead. I'd like a set of 4 of these- maybe each with a different message.

The irony here is that I don't have a smart phone and I have no way of reading this code to get the message. But I brought the finished piece in to work and had a co-worker read it with his phone. And he laughed his ass off, so I guess I stitched it right.

QR close-up

I love all those little x'es.


[knitting] Lace Beret

I wanted a portable knitting project to take to DC last month and I've been wanting to make this lace beret/tam for ages (okay, since 2009).

Lace tam - top

Pattern: #24 Lace Beret from Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2009

Yarn: Ball & Skein Super Sock 416, "cinder" colorway.

Needles: US 1 (ribbing), US 2 (main body of the hat)

I purchased the yarn at the VT Sheep and Wool Festival last fall. The last time I used this yarn was for my first Haruni. I didn't weight my leftovers from this gray beret, but I probably only used half of the skein- which means I've got enough leftovers for matching fingerless mitts. If I really wanted to be all matchy-matchy, I'd take the time to work the lace pattern from the beret into the mitts, but I think I'd settle for simply making a pair with the same yarn.

The underside:

Lace tam - bottom

Lovely pattern. Would totally make it again.


[misc] The high cost of kitties.

Well I am glad this week is over. Things started to go down the shitter last weekend when I brought Penny and Murderface to the vet for shots. Penny needed two shots, MF needed one. Dollar came with me to comfort the kitties during the ride. We were at the vet for 2 HOURS. It was a Saturday, they were busy, some unexpected emergencies had come in, but seriously... think of the kitties. It's not fair to have them waiting in a terrified state for so long.

As I was waiting to check out, I witnessed something alarming there (an exchange- or lack there of- between vet techs, the receptionist and someone on the phone) that made me seriously question whether or not I should continue going to this vet. I loved the old place I brought MF to before me moved but we switched to this place simply because it closer. I paid the bill for this visit and they overcharged me by $70.

Sunday, Penny could barely get out of bed and wouldn't eat her breakfast. I picked her up and she was shivering like crazy. I looked up her symptoms online and I think she had a fever from an allergic reaction to one of her shots. So I watched her all day. She appeared a little better that night (she ate some supper) and Monday morning she was purring, kneading me in bed and ate all her breakfast. I need to get a thermometer, though, in case she has another fever. 105 is the danger temp and a vet should be called immediately if things get that high.

Here she is, back to normal:

Penny Flash

Oops, flash. Here she is:

Penny in bed

Tuesday night I brought Santana for a special exam. She's been coughing on occasion (once every couple of weeks) and after reading about it online, I assumed she had asthma. I got some x-rays, blood work, paid to have the x-rays sent to experts, etc etc (hello $300 bill, which was still less $70 from what they overcharged me on Saturday). So, here are her x-rays:



It's not asthma. The vet thinks that Santana has a diaphragmatic hernia, probably from being hit by a car. It sounds like surgery would be the way to repair the hole in her diaphragm. If that costs thousands of dollars, I'm going to set up a ChipIn page or do an auction or something on Rav to raise some money because, yeah, we don't have that kind of money lying around.

Poor Banana. This might explain why she's so mean all the time and doesn't like she sides being touched. Here she is in bed:


Still waiting to hear what the diagnosis is. I set up some new appts at the old vet (Penny for a booster shot, Santana for a 2nd opinion/check-up... yay! More money to spend!), which is now 45 minutes away. I don't know how the cats will do on such a long car ride (peeing in the carrier is my main concern) but I just can't deal with new vet anymore. 


"Get offa my lawn!"

I know buddy. You're such good boy. Healthy, sweet, helpful, tolerant. You're just the perfect kitty. And inexpensive, which helps me out a lot.


[misc] Things

[reading] A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin. I'm not devouring it as fast as A Game of Thrones, but it's still a good read.

[watching] A Game of Thrones. I got the Blu-ray of the 1st season this week and it's so good. Most of the characters were cast spot-on but I'm most unhappy with Jon Snow looking and acting like a dufus. What's up with that? We've only watched two episodes, though, so maybe he'll snap out of it.

[knitting] A hand grenade. It's slow progress, but I think it'll be super cute.

[cross-stitching] Yeah I am. It is so much fun. I ordered different sizes of Q-Snap frames from Amazon and I can't recommend these enough. SO much easier/nicer than using a hoop when stitching on thicker aida cloth. Also, Sprite Stitch is a great forum/resource for geeky/video-gamey cross stitching. There's also tons of inspiring cross stitch on deviantART.

[cooking] Pasta with Butternut Parmesan sauce. This is so good. I modified it to make easier for me: I buy half of an already peeled butternut squash, cut it into cubes and boil it in chicken broth. When it's tender, I drain the squash but keep the liquid. I use my potato ricer to rice the squash pieces back into the cooking pot, add a couple tablespoons of cream cheese and whisk. In a small saute pan, I saute shallots and minced garlic. I add that to the pasta puree, add some of the reserved liquid (not all of it, just enough to make the sauce runny), some grated nutmeg. Salt. I think that's it. It doesn't end up super-smooth because the squash is merely riced and the shallots and garlic are only minced. I pour some over cooked rotini and generously sprinkle grated parm cheese on top. This doesn't look super beautiful but it is so goddamn tasty.


[misc] Time to go to the V-E-T

I just made vet appointments for all three kitties. MF is due for some shot and Penny's never had any of her shots. I'm bringing them both to the vet at the same time this Saturday (that should be a loud, terrible, long car ride).

Sananta's going next Tuesday. 

Santana Banana

She's been coughing for a while and I think it's asthma :( Time to get her a little kitty inhaler.


[knitting] $ Socks

I've started the great sock-a-thon of 2012:


Dollar asked for some homemade socks. I've made him a dozen or so pairs over the years and he's worn through/shrunk nearly every pair. So this time I'm knitting many pairs to give him all at once (maybe his b-day near the end of the year) and I'll put them inside a special hamper. A sock hamper that he will put only handknit socks in to be washed by me. I don't use crazy expensive yarn for his worsted-weight socks; usually just Encore or Wool-Ease, since it's machine washable.

These socks are good practice for knitting continental with double-pointed needles. I've gotten fairly proficient at knitting continental with straight and circular needles, but I still knit English style with DPNs. Not anymore- I can manage the ribbing quite well now with the yarn in my left hand.


[cooking] Ice Cream

Homemade Ice Cream

Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. Or, more accurately, Espresso Skor Bar Crunch. The recipe is from the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream recipe book. The expresso powder is from King Arthur Flour.

Homemade ice cream is amazing. Better than Ben & Jerry's. I use fresh, local eggs because we're eating them raw. In my stand mixer, I mix 2 eggs and add 3/4 cup of sugar, added a bit at a time. After minutes of beating/whipping, the eggs and sugar become a thick, custardy mixture. Then I add heavy cream, milk and two tablespoons of expresso powder. Mix, dump it into the ice cream maker and let it go for 20 - 30 minutes. Then add in finely chopped Skor bars at the end.

I've made plain vanilla ice cream using vanilla bean paste (also from KAF) because I love snowy white ice cream with flecks of vanilla beans (based purely on aesthetics, I don't care for the yellow-ish look of french vanilla ice cream). Also made Maple Grape-Nut ice cream. Dollar and I aren't super fans of Maple-Walnut and I saw the Grape-Nuts varient in the Ben & Jerry's recipe book. It's GREAT. 


[knitting] Chicken Thumb Mittens

I made the best fitting mittens:

Chicken Thumb Mittens

Pattern: Fried Chicken Mittens (free on rav)

Why is the pattern called Fried Chicken Mittens? This diagram shows:

There is special shaping around the meatiest part of the chicken drumstick (in palm reading, this is the "Mount of Venus", or the female/love area of the palm). 

I would happily make this pattern again and again and again. The top is nicely rounded (not pointy) and I like that there is a distinct left vs. right mitten. If you want to make a pair of mittens, THIS is THE pattern to use.