Saturday, October 26, 2013

My mother, the enabler

I called my mother this evening from My Favorite Big Box Store. I had gone for one item, but it wasn't there, so I consoled myself by trolling the cross stitch book aisle. I've been designing a cross stitch sampler in my head, and looking into alphabet books, small item patterns and the like.

It's a sickness, a very, very special sickness.

I found one and was browsing the others to make sure it was really the one I wanted, when a woman approached me for help in matters yarnish. I assisted her with finding a yarn to go with her beginner's crochet hook and book, then started browsing the yarn myself. As I have more yarn than Big Box Store does, thank you, Yarnia, you'd think I wouldn't find anything worth buying, would you? And you'd be wrong. Wrongitty-wrong-wrong, as it turns out.

I went down the Lion Brand aisle. BIG mistake! I saw their Hometown USA yarns. They had a team colors version in Da Phew's school colors -- and a general home town version in the 'accent' color. All bulky yarns. Shockingly soft, for Lion Brand. I'm so super pleased that the major yarn companies seem to have gotten the memo that knitters, crocheters and other yarn fanciers prefer their acrylic soft, but sheesh. Makes impulse buying just too easy.

So to control myself I whip out my cell phone and call my mother. I say, "Either I don't need any more yarn, or you need a scarf in Phew's school colors." The lady next to me snorted in laughter, and I end up walking out with this:

Because I need more yarn.

Sigh. I guess I should just accept that I'll always be easily seduced by spun fiber, but it's aggravating. I mean, where will I keep this stuff until it's knitted up and Mom is wearing it? I have no earthly idea.

And the whole thing is compounded by the fact that earlier today I impulse shopped this little gem:

I guess the army wives stuck in Berlin during the blockade got bored and decided to cheer themselves by writing a cookbook based on the trouble you can get up to with limited 'vittles'. It's got a recipe for making cottage cheese out of powdered milk. And a soup made out of cream of wheat.

Oh, there's normal stuff in there (creamed spinach, various sausage dishes, Toad in the Hole, etc.), and a punch for a party that made me realize that while they didn't have fresh milk, they totally had the contents of sixty liquor stores hidden in their basements. It calls for 20 bottles of wine and cognac. YeBobs. I'd think you'd get high off the fumes, never mind drinking the thing!

It's perfect bound, which means that even though I was the first person to turn the pages, and that about six hours ago, they're already falling out. I will have to make a trip to my local FedEx/Kinkos and avail myself of their spiral binding services again.

I do that with all my softcover cookbooks, actually. I got in the habit with my piano music books, and realized it would make using those cookbooks so much easier. They lay flat on the counter! You don't have to worry overmuch about losing pages! It's a wonder, and no mistake.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


But happy about it.

Is that a contradiction?

I had this ring:

It's a lab created sapphire, so chemically, technically, it's a real sapphire. Just, you know, nobody stole the stone from an ancient temple or shot their slave labor when they got a bad cough to bring it to the surface, you know?

I loved it. I loved it like buttah. But the underside of the band looked like this:

And it was sharp as fresh-broken glass. I could wear it, so long as I didn't put it on or take it off too often. I can't tell you how many times I managed to shave the hair off my knuckles with that thing. But I still loved it, and even though it's probably the only piece of jewelry that was worth anything, I never sold it. It's special to me.

Which is silly. It's just a pretty rock set in metal. But sentiment is what sentiment is, so I held onto it all through my 'freelance writer' years.

Still and all, I have a job now. And with a job comes a paycheck. I bethought myself, Self, I can get this fixed now and can wear it without doing myself physical harm. 

So I carried it off to my jeweler (yes, I have a jeweler -- anyone who is such a magpie as I has a jeweler) and sought remedy. Sadly, I couldn't get the band fixed, not without filling it in underneath (to the painfully high tune of $800).

I chose instead to have the stone reset into a new band.

He came home today:

It's a simple, smooth band. Way more comfortable, and the extra light around the stone is making him sparkle like a stick coated in gunpowder.

Super. Duper. Happy.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

It will never look so good again!

I made a cottage pie for dinner tonight, because it's that sort of weather, and initially I was pretty sure I buggered it up. I put too much milk into the mashed potatoes, so I put more cheese into them than I typically do in an attempt to save it (under the theory that "there is no such thing as too much cheese" -- which is practically a law of the universe now, not a theory anymore).

I got it all put together and popped it in the oven for a final meld. I then hit it with the broiler to make the cheese on top brown up.

I managed to turn off the broiler before it became toast in a bad way. I'll never get it this pretty again, no matter how hard I try:

Toasty, golden and perfectly browned in just enough spots to give crunch, but not so many as to make you think overdone. How did I manage that?

It looks pretty good inside, too.

Aside from making myself and the family some damn handsome kib (if I do say so myself), I went on a date with myself this morning. I went to see The Fifth Estate. I don't know why I wanted to see it so badly (that's a total lie, I do know why: Benedict Cumberbatch), but I did, so I managed to find some free time this afternoon. I spent two more dollars than I prefer to in terms of ticket price going to my second choice theater, but it was the only showing I could swing before prices went way up at 5pm.

It was me and two other couples in the theater, nice and quiet. I do have to admit that surprise at what I was watching forced me twice to make sotto voce comments along the theme of What the hell is wrong with you? That's one of the dumbest things I've seen a person admit to doing!

At the end, I sat there for a few moments, digesting it silently, and the woman in the couple sitting closest to me turned to her companion and asked, "What the hell did we just watch?" I wanted to shout out, "Preach, sister", or possibly "I know your feelz", but I restrained myself and just left before the lights were even fully up. It was an unsettling film, in a way I don't quite understand, and I don't like thinking too closely about it right now. Perhaps in a few days I'll know all that I'm thinking about it, and that will make me feel better.

In either case, the quiet of the car during the drive home gave me time to realize there are two main lessons to take away from that movie.

1. Just because someone has an undiagnosed personality disorder does not make him wrong all the time.

2. While it is true that, like the rest of us, someone on the Autism Spectrum can be a jackass, not all jackasses are Autistic. Sometimes, they're just jackasses.

Let's stop confusing the two, hmmm?

Now, I'm off for pie and a little knitting before I make some ice cream bread for breakfast tomorrow. I may even free hand some streusel topping, just because I can.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fun and Games

So, today I actually had to go shopping. I'm dreadfully short on work clothing. I guess four years of unemployment will do that to you. So I had to remedy it.

I actually spent nearly two hours shopping -- it sucked, but not as much as I thought it would. I got two pair of pants, two pair of shoes (hey, they were buy one, get one 30% of; who am I to say no?), a couple pair of pants for my father, a stadium seat for my mom (nephew's football games; those seats are brutal) and then rewarded myself by allowing a small splurge ($40) in the bookstore. Everything is clean and hanging up in my closet. I'm just waiting on the towels and undies to finish tumbling dry, and then I'm off to bed myself.

I'm not going to lie, that thought makes me happy.

But before that, I went grocery shopping with my mom. I, uh, indulged in the store.

LEGO!!!! I love LEGO. I got me a little 'fire in a dumpster' City set and the Gandalf/Sauron show-down set. Yes, I got nerd LEGOs. Hey, it's got a teensy-weensy Palentir:

It spins. Wicked cool.

Anyway, I've made progress on my blanket:

I seem to enjoy knitting on this while watching Sleepy Hollow on the DVR. Something about that show inspires me to knit bias squares in garter stitch. Pehaps it's the knee boots and breeches?

I dunno. Whatever it is, I hope it keeps going for a while. I need this blanket finished.

I'm also making progress on my Nemesis stole, but I don't have a picture of that. Not that you could tell I've added an inch to it from pictures. I think I won't be taking any pictures until it's visually very different -- ie, when I get at least halfway through. It is growing, just not that fast.

I still consider this past week a win -- I knit most nights out of the week. That's more than I usually do.

Now, if I can just keep that going!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Season changes

Ugh. The change in seasons is totally kicking my backside. The lack of light in the mornings, particularly. This is what made working for myself so awesome -- I got up with the sun, whatever hour that happened to be. And it was wonderful. Now I'm driving to work in what feels like the middle of the night, and it's taking me about three hours every morning to feel like a human again.

Not cool. Particularly when my phone starts ringing an hour in.

So in between being exhausted and cranky as all get out, I have been doing some knitting:

It's grown. Not by a ton, but some.

I've also, in the past week, started working on this:

This is my Hue Shift Blanket. Hey, it's still on sale! Trust me, it's a good deal. This is what, eventually, it will look like:
The corner I just did is the bottom left. Looks darker in their photo than mine does, actually it looks darker than the yarn itself. Perhaps it's the lighting.

Anyway, I bought it a few weeks ago because it was on sale and I wanted it, and I'm not at all unhappy with my purchase. The pattern is simple -- it makes good tv knitting -- but not so simple I fall asleep while knitting it. This, to my mind, is perfection in knitting.

My only complaint is the instructions that are included. I had to have a friend help me interpret them, in particular the order in which you knit the squares, which is just wrong, imho. It's obvious enough, I suppose, if you read the written instructions first and don't look at the pictures below that show you how to pick up stitches. But the diagrams seem to indicate one thing, while the wording describes another. My tip: Follow the written directions, ignore the illustrations unless you need help figuring out how to pick up stitches. And she gives no specifications on how to put on the border -- I swear to you that the instructions for the border are "With (black yarn), knit a Garter st border around the blanket."

That's it. Now, I'm experienced enough to figure it out even though I've never knit a border onto a blanket before, but I can only imagine what a newb without a knit group (or Ravelry, and that thought is sending me into palpitations) would feel. She doesn't tell you how many stitches to pick up per square for your border, or which sides to knit first (which doesn't really matter, I suppose, since the blanket is square), or even specify that you knit it on along the side (as opposed to knitting it on, so that you're only knitting something like four stitches but attaching it every row and then mitreing the corners.)

I'm aggravated on the newbs' behalf, really. I mean, the design is beautiful, and it's really clever color work, but someone is falling asleep in the editing department. It's not difficult if you're fairly aware of the rule to read the instructions before you begin (granted, a failing of mine) and can guess what sort of border to put on, but it can initially be very confusing.

That's all the knitting news that's fit to print lately. My big debate is this: We've got weather rolling in tomorrow -- thunderstorms. I love thunderstorms. But it's Sunday, my traditional movie day. Do I go to the movies and then clothes shopping? Or do I stay in, sit all cuddled up in my chair with cocoa, chocolate croissants and my knitting and watch the storms?

Oh, my. I just answered my own question there, didn't I?