Friday, December 29, 2006

New Toys

I had a great Christmas and I sure hope all of you did, too. DH got me the iPod I asked for, so now I'm all set to listen to tunes and podcasts when I get back to the gym. I seem to have given myself a week or so off. While not going to the gym, I did finish one pair of Christmas mittens for the little ones next door. The other pair is in rework. You see, I only had a small amount of the yarn selected and, of course, ran out. This is easily, if annoyingly solved by ripping them out and making them a few stitches around smaller. Yes, I was that close to having enough. Sigh.

I've also found some new toys to play with. First up is this nifty strainer. I know, a strainer does not sound like a toy, but it's quite amusing. It's silicon and goes from flat to a strainer when you pour stuff into it (or pretend you're a pirate and flick it ). I am so easily amused!

Finally, my last toy for the week is completely free. DH allowed as how we really ought to think about painting the living room/dining room (and, of course, the ceilings). This brings us to the nice people at Resene EzyPaint. They have written a free, downloadable software package that allows you to import a picture of your intended paint victim and virtually paint it. How cool is that?!?!

Note: I'm reserving judgement as to how cool it really is until I can play with it more.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Last-Minute Holiday Stuff

Like everyone else, I have projects that just aren't going to get finished. Here's a pair of mittens with only the thumb to finish. They might actually get done, but I still need to start/finish an even smaller pair. I didn't even start a headband for DD. I think I'll just aim for finishing before New Year's! It's still unnaturally warm around here anyway.

We got this nifty gift basket the other day. Isn't it pretty? And it tasted just as good as it looked.

It's all about cookies the last few days around here. I don't know why I feel that I should bake an excessive amount of cookies around Christmas. There are not many of us in our little family and we sure don't need cookies at all, let alone dozens. I've baked treasure cookies, chocolate crinkles, ricotta cookies and spritz. Toffee (the crunchy kind) will be made soon. It would make a lot of sense to just bake a few dozen and freeze the dough for another day, but that just never seems to happen... I did, however, package most of them up and stashed them out of sight, to be brought out when needed (at least until I forget and just leave them all out!).

Know what? It's worth following the advice of experts now and then. A small ice cream scoop speeds cookie production right along. And parchment paper (maybe even those silicon baking sheets, too) is a wonderful, wonderful thing. That paper can be used for multiple batches, prevents scorching and, most of all, prevents sticking!

This nifty little treat was on Juno's blog. She sure can find amusing stuff!

My Fortune Cookie told me:
A bird in the hand makes it awfully hard to blow your nose.
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune

On that note, just in case I don't post for a few days, Happy Holidays to you all!

Part 5 Yet More from the Christmas Store

I told you I had taken quite a few pictures at this place. It really is a nice store, with many, many beautiful ornaments, decorations, toys and a truly impressive array of model train stuff. The array of fabulous garlands is terrific and were very hard to resist.

However, your tour guide seems to have a kind of odd frame of mind, so we continue our tour with this decorative object. Unfortunately, it was solid, rather than an actual flask, which is what it looked like to me. I might have brought it home with me if it had been a usable flask.

And, finally, nothing says Christmas like...

...dancing sheep!

Part 4 Even More from the Christmas Store

I don't know why I kept finding all these odd (or at least odd to me) things at the Christmas store. Believe it or not, there is even more that I'm saving for tomorrow or Saturday.

Santa here seems to be in his stockings, getting ready for a dip into the bowl. The legs are out of some type of flexible something, so are not as fragile as they look.

On the same tree as the previously pictured busty fish and suggestive bunny, was this little cherub-like bundle. Let's face it, he's faking it; there is no way those little wings are going to get any lift!

And now, for today's contribution to "Nothing Says Christmas Like..."

...Aliens (lots of them).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Part 3: More from the Christmas Store

This store is really quite large. About half the store is all about model trains. There is a really big model set up that's really fascinating (and trains aren't really my thing). There are towns, railyards, stations, bridges (with bungee jumpers) and then there was this. I'm sorry to report that there was a terrible accident here (lower center).

Here we have a large selection of heads. Personally, I find all these little heads on hooks a bit disturbing.

Finally, nothing says Christmas like...

...a pile of dead livestock?

Finally, I swiped this quiz from Juno, and I'm sure that none of you are surprised at the results.

How evil are you?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Part 2 of the Christmas Store

When you first enter the Christmas store, you are greeted by some really large animals. The bear is pretty close to 8-foot tall; his sign says "Do Not Touch, I Eat People". How welcoming.

I've heard that Halloween decorations are getting to be a really big thing. Wouldn't it be better to have all the Halloween decorations together, rather than scattered among the Christmas decorations?

Finally, nothing says Christmas like...a crow?

The rest of the tree had some reasonably nice looking birds on it, like parrots, cardinals, peacocks, etc. And then you came around the other side and there was this ratty-looking crow.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Part 1 of "Nothing says Christmas like..."

Oops, the other day, while in Toronto, I actually did take a Saturday Sky picture. Here's the sun setting over Lake Ontario.

Yesterday, DH and I went in search of a new tree topper. We were unsuccessful as it seems they are not all that popular right now. However, while in this very Christmas-centric store, I found quite a few photo ops. I will try to post a few every day this week. Here we go.

Nothing says Christmas like....

...a busty fish

...or, well, I don't think I want to know what this little bunny has to say.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Rockin' Saturday

Yesterday, I went with my Mom on another one of those bus trips. This one was to Toronto to see the Rockettes Christmas show. The show was really good and I thoroughly enjoyed it. No pics allowed in the theater, so go here and here to see more.

One of the planned activities for the tour was shopping at Eaton Centre. I, however, had other (to me, better) plans.

I ditched the tour and walked down to St. Lawrence Market and met Lene for coffee. You know, it just doesn't get much better than hanging out with a friend, with great coffee (cherry chocolate), on the outside deck in the sunshine.

Yep, we were able to sit outside, in December, in Toronto. Freaky.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fill 'er Up!

My Grammy made each and every one of her grandchildren, grandchildren's spouses and great-grandchildren the best little stockings ever. I think the only exception was for my daughter; my Mom made hers...and made it very large indeed!

A few years ago, I figured it was time for something a little different, so I knitted my Mom a stocking (hers is the Estonian-ish, 2nd from left). She gleefully hands it back to me every year and says, "Fill 'er up!".

As much as I've loved using our Grammy-stockings, they are getting a bit fragile (especially mine...stop laughing, you know why!). This year I had the time to knit new stockings for DH and myself.

DH's stocking is the Rustic Stocking from Knit Christmas Stockings. He thought that the little outside pocket from another pattern was kind of neat, so I added one for him. Mine is the Diamonds in the Rough argyle stocking from Christmas Stockings. Both of them have had 3 trips through the washer to felt them a bit. Felting does make them smaller, but then again, it also makes them very sturdy!

Like Mom's time to fill 'em up!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Squirrels, Stockings & Nog

How about that...another week has disappeared into the never never. I do have some actual knitting content today.

Our newest neighbor recently turned one, so I made this little squirrel. It's a Fiber Trends pattern; I just love their patterns for critters of all kinds. In case you were wondering why he has a red tail, well, that's because some of the squirrels around here have red tails.

I have knitted a new Christmas stocking for DH and am pretty sure that I'm going to full (felt) it as it will snug up the stitches and make it much sturdier so will take pictures after that.

Here's a picture of mine in process. It is the Diamonds in the Rough Argyle stocking from Christmas Stockings. I'll felt it also.

I thought it best to stop knitting on it tonight. You see, I made a batch (actually a partial batch) of Meg Nog.

What else can we say? Meg Nog 1, Meg 0.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Out with the Old, In with the New

Yes, I know that phrase is normally reserved for New Year's, but it is so appropriate for today. Our unseasonably wonderful weather can be seen here (left) beating a hasty retreat after leaving another inch or so of rain. On the right would be the soon to be lake effect snow. Oh well, we knew it couldn't last!

In that same vein, the fall decorations have given way to Christmas decorations. I really love the red, greens and shininess of Christmas decorations.

A few years ago, DH and I decided that we would get an artifical tree. Yes, I know that is just not the done thing in many households; I was the hold out for years. We would go out and cut a 12-15 foot tree, drag it out of the field and wrestle it into position.

Let me tell you, I am now a convert. I can put our tree up right after Thanksgiving (OK, I'm a week late this year) and enjoy it for the whole month with no worries of watering, needles and tree falling over. Yes, we had that experience one year; not fun; although now it's kind of funny.

Alrighty then, do you suppose it's high time I got to knitting some Christmas gifts? I thought so.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Balmy Wednesday

We are currently blessed with a stretch of unseasonably wonderful weather around here: Mostly clear skies with highs in the 50s to 60s (10s to 15s for our neighbors to the north). This is the kind of thing that makes us wonder what/when payback will be. Days like this tend to send me off to the park with Gypsy. This time we saw this huge burl; you could make a bathtub out of this one.

Gypsy was intrigued by all the geese. I don't know if these are local geese or just passing through. Canadian Geese will hang out here until ponds/lakes freeze over. This gaggle (and there were hundreds, maybe a over a thousand) have taken up residence on the golf course. I sure am glad that I'm not a golfer; these are really big birds that are territorial and leave behind a really big mess.

When we got home, DH was taking advantage of the nice weather and strung lights on our outside Christmas tree. Every year, he says that this tree is getting too big to decorate; I suppose one of these years he's going to mean it.

Today's plans are to put up the inside decorations, so I'd better hop to it!

Friday, November 24, 2006


From Wikipedia: Six degrees of separation is the hypothesis that anyone on Earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances with no more than five intermediaries. I'm thinking there may actually be some truth to this.

I really do wish that the Yarn Harlot and I lived a bit closer together, even though, I suspect, there could be some interesting fiber-related incidents.

As I mentioned yesterday, not only does my Mom rock for obtaining the legendary Screech for me, it is also one of Stephanie's preferred beverages.

So, here we go...6 (or maybe less) degrees:
--Both of us are knitters (in her case Knitter), bloggers
--We live approximately the same distance from the US/CA border
--We both have daughters named Megan (or as mine prefers, Meg)
--Steph left a comment on my blog to try Screech in eggnog
--This recipe appeared in this morning's newspaper:

Meg Nog (yes spelled like that)
12 large eggs (separated)
1 pound powdered sugar
2 cups dark rum
2 cups brandy
2 cups bourbon
8 cups heavy cream
fresh nutmeg
Begin with 12 large egg yolks (save the whites) and gradually beat in 1 pound of powdered sugar. Very slowly, add 2 cups dark rum, beating constantly. Let stand, covered, for 1 hour in fridge to alleviate the eggy taste. Beating constantly, add 2 cups brandy, 2 cups bourbon and 8 cups of heavy cream. Cover the mixture and place it in the fridge for three hours.
In another large bowl, (chilled) beat the egg whites until the peaks are stiff but not dry. Fold the egg whites gently into the other ingredients. Serve the eggnog sprinkled with freshly grated nutmeg.

The article with it allowed as how holiday cheer will occur after drinking Meg Nog.

Drink up, y'all (I'm on the south side of said border); let the holidays begin!

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Like many other Americans, I'm sitting here on the sofa being thankful for elastic. I usually do Thanksgiving dinner, although some years we have been know to go out. This year, I tried a few different items on the menu.

There was smoked turkey. It's a bit chilly, so smoking took quite awhile. We put the turkey in the smoker at 11:30 last night and it was perfectly ready for dinner at 5 pm. I'm a bad blogger and didn't take a picture of my own turkey, but it looked just like this one. The recipe can be found here. It was really tasty, with a good smoky flavor and fall off the bone tender. I think we'll do that again, for sure!

Of course, I had an assistant in the kitchen. She kept a very, very close eye on all activities. Gypsy's tongue is just amazing; she can lick both sides of a spoon (or a beater) at the same time.

My Mom can't have nuts anymore, so instead of pecan pie, I made some butter tarts. I searched around on the 'net until I found a recipe that sounded good and easy. I used craisins instead of currants or raisins and they're quite good. I also made a batch of Hot Cranberry Cider. It sure smelled good. I have no idea how it actually tasted as it was gone by the time I had a chance to try it.

While vacationing in Nova Scotia this summer, I caught a beastly cold. Since I sure wasn't in any condition to drive anywhere, I wandered down to the pub and asked the bartender to just fix me something to knock the cold down (or maybe me, didn't matter at the time). I suspect it may have been one of the Yarn Harlot's preferred beverages.

On the way home (and feeling much better), I figured I would just stop at the Duty Free and get some. No such luck. They do not carry it, nor do any of the local liquor stores.

Thanks, Mom, you rock!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Pre-Thanksgiving Randoms

This dandy little item is advertised as a tea cozy. There is also a somewhat matching hat pattern available. I would normally give credit where credit is due, but I'm not sure that the woman needs encouraging, although she might need some new medication.

This is a note received from a friend of mine:

A Love Story
I will seek and find you.
I shall take you to bed and have my way with you
I will make you ache, shake & sweat until you moan & groan.
I will make you beg for mercy, beg for me to stop.
I will exhaust you to the point that you will be relieved when I'm finished with you.
And, when I am finished, you will be weak for days.

All my love,

The Flu

Now, quit thinking about sex and go get your flu shot!

Her timing, was, as usual, perfect. My arm is bruised from Sunday's flu shot, given by the nurse who flunked "Giving Shots 101".

I swiped this from Mouse:

Thanksgiving Horoscope for Gemini

You're the sign most likely to bring up interesting and controversial topics at Thanksgiving dinner.

Your signature dish: Sweet potatoes with marshmallows

Your signature dessert: Pumpkin cheesecake

This holiday: Play bartender. You're family is much more lively with a few drinks in them.

I'm not sure about the marshmallows, but I do know that having a drink or two sure makes my day easier!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Some Finished Stuff

How about that? Some finished objects and really cute kitty pictures. My spokeskitty, Bubba, says both beds are acceptable. They are both knitted from Cat Bordhi's Second Treasury of Magical Knitting. I made these quite awhile ago, but they just got washed, so looked pretty good. Different yarns felt at different rates, so the blue one has always been small and the gray one always large.

There has also been some spinning around here. The top one is some polypay that I got in a swap. This sample was somewhat coarse, but it spins easily. The bottom one is the silk that I spun earlier.

The two in the middle are totally lucious Fleece Artist, 50/50 merino/silk. This stuff is a dream to spin and the colors are lovely. I navajo-plied it to keep the colors more separate. It's a shame that the sun wasn't out today, because that would have made the colors really shine!

There is even a finished project: fingerless mitts for a Christmas gift from mohair. These are one of my latest favorite projects to knit. There's a lot of good going on:
--Not much yarn is needed
--You don't have to worry about how long the recipient's hand is
--It's quite surprising how warm they keep your hands and fingers

Time to stop blogging, the critters are letting me know, loudly, that it's way past feeding time!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Bright Light

Something quite unusual happened today. There was a bright light in the sky. I almost didn't remember what it was called: the sun!

Gypsy and I took the opportunity of what turned out to be a very nice, Indian Summer day and went for a walk in the park.

She's laying in what is left of the lovely leaves of autumn. They don't last long, but sure are pretty while they're here.

We found a few things to take pictures of: Various kinds of, yellow and white, staghorn sumac and some deer prints.

From the size of the footprints I was seeing, there are some really, really big deer in the park and a lot of them. There were prints everywhere, little 3/4 inch ones right up to to a solid 4 inches long.

Our nice day was pretty short-lived. By evening, it was back to gray and it's raining again. The 10-day forecast says maybe we'll the sun again next Tuesday.