Thursday, February 25, 2010

L is for Luck

My knitting group had a potluck get-together for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. It was also a Casting On party for the various Knitting Olympics going on.

A couple of weeks earlier, we pulled slips of paper out of a sock project bag to see what each person was to bring. I pulled Side Dish. Here's what I made...

2 TBS unsalted butter or olive oil
2 medium-size yellow or white onions, chopped
6 mild green chiles, such as Anaheim, roasted, peeled, seeded, cut into large pieces
1 pound zucchini, ends trimmed, and cut into 2-3" chunks
2 to 3 ears yellow or white corn, kernels cut off the cob; or one 10 oz. pkg frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup water
1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

1. In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and cook the onions, stirring a few times, until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Transfer to the slow cooker along with the chiles, zucchini, corn, and water. Cover and cook on LOW until the zucchini begins to break down and make a stew, 3'4 hours.
3. Sprinkle with cheese and serve out of the crockpot with an oversized spoon.

This recipe is insanely easy and delicious! I doubled it and the only modification I made was to substitute a big can (or two small ones) of the canned green chilies for the roasting/peeling/seeded/chopped/10X-more-expensive Anaheims. I also used the frozen corn option. (I love that the recipe tells you what size serving spoon to use. Odd.)

The Potluck was great fun! We had it at Donna's house (thanks Donna!) and since she pulled dessert, she made a lovely Pavlova in the shape of the Olympic rings topped with appropriate colored fruit (pineapple, kiwi, berries, etc.) and served with a scrumptious chocolate sauce!

Luck has been playing a small part in my life lately and in rather odd ways....

I'm playing online poker nearly every day and I'm getting better all the time! Last night, I got knocked out in 106th place. Not so great, right? BUT! That's 106 out of 20,000 people! In the free tournaments I play in, I've learned to not even play a hand unless I have to (big blind/small blind) for about the first 30-60 minutes since there's always some yayhoo that wants to go "all in" with, like, an 8 and a 2. Off-suite. If you don't play Texas Hold'em, you probably don't have any idea what I'm talking about but that's OK. Just know that I'm having fun! Dave's been playing for over a year now and he's much better then I. It's a math issue, really. He can look at the pot and figure out pot odds. I look at the bets being made and decide if I want to give up that much money or not considering what my hand is.

On Valentine's Day, we took Dave's parents out to eat for their anniversary (41 years!). They picked the big Chinese buffet in town. It's not bad. To me, buffet food all kind of tastes the same. When the fortune cookies came, D2's said, "A well-nourished romance feeds the soul.", so of course Dave and T had to start teasing him about the little girl in his class that he thinks is pretty. (Apparently the boy has a predilection towards blondes. Every class he's ever been in, the one he picks for his "girlfriend" is always a blonde!) T said, "Oooh, D2, you're going to marry her!" D2 said, "No I'm not! I probably haven't even met the girl I'm going to marry, yet. I may not meet her until I'm in.... 2nd grade!" We all cracked up at that!

Had a bit of bad luck 2 days ago. I had put dinner in the crockpot and was messin' about upstairs for about an hour. Then I remembered that I forgot to put the onion in the crock. I dashed downstairs and was chopping it up really fast and the knife slipped off the onion into my finger. It hacked me pretty good under the fingernail of my left middle finger. Yipes! It bled for over 5 minutes! I was having an email conversation with a my friend and he said to put cayenne pepper on it and it would stop bleeding immediately. He swore it wouldn't hurt. I told him I'd try a bandage first and if that didn't work I'd try the pepper. I also said that if I tried the pepper and it did hurt, he'd be in for it! The bandage worked. phew!

The accident serves me right for A) rushing and B) not sharpening the knife first. Of course, if I had sharpened it, it probably would've taken my fingertip off! As it is, I have a nasty cut with a lovely accompanying blunt force bruise. Niiiice.

Love my crockpot, Ruth!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

K is for Knitscene

Why yes, that is me on page 5 of the new issue of Knitscene!! (If, someday, someone is reading this in the archives, it's the Winter/Spring 2010 issue.)

OK, not me per se, but it is certainly a fine picture of my Stitch Saver and the web addy to my Etsy store! YAY!

I sent IWK some samples of my Stitch Savers well over a year ago and they said they would put it on the "cool stuff" pages of Knitscene. I didn't think to ask which issue - hah! Just kidding! Again, I'm so happy to be in the mag it's ridiculous!

And, since I haven't posted any real knitting in awhile, let's talk about some knittin', shall we? So far, 2010 has been the Year of the Frog. In January, it seems everything I tried to knit got frogged for one reason or another. February's been better so maybe I just had the Month of the Frog and Year of the Frog is just me exaggerating (one can always hope, right?).

As always, my nemesis The Hat got me again...

I tried to make the Fake Isle hat with a skein of Noro Iro and leftovers from a skein of Baby Alpaca Grande...

Do you see the hourglass shape goin' there? My fair isle skills are in need of some serious practice. Also, it was going to be far too long to be a proper hat.

Here's my foot for scale...
My shoe size is US 8.5 or 9 and my noggin is not that... tall? Ribbit.

Once again, my fail is completely my fault as I tend to see a pattern and say, YES! but then look at my yarn and pick, oh, say bulky when it calls for worsted and then I try math and... fail.

Truthfully, the math was working, I just didn't factor in row count and how that might be different from worsted to bulky. Also, I wasn't feelin' the fair isle between these two yarns. You can see it much better in those pic's then in real life but that's only because of the camera flash. In real life it was not very clear what was going on with the fair isle - the colors of the two yarns were too close to the same or something.

So, I pulled it apart and then used the Noro Iro for a hat that called for Bulky yarn. Wonder of wonders, it worked. Not only did it work, it worked the first time! No ripping, no re-working, nothing. Just a big huge win! Which caused a big huge grin...

I used the Baby Alpaca for the edging and I skipped the side braids.

It's been snowy and cold here so I've been wearing the hell out of this hat! I love it so, I think I will name it. Any suggestions?

I also had enough Iro leftover to think about making some matching mittens. Sadly, I think I may have to rethink those. I used the Iro for the cuffs - CO, Magic Loop, two at a time and that worked out splendidly. I was going to use the big ball of leftover Baby Alpaca Grande for the mittens part but as I worked the first mitten, I could already see that I won't have enough for the second one. sigh. And, it'd cost $13 (plus shipping) to get another skein of it and then I'd have leftovers from that skein and now my lovely hat-matching mitts are languishing. I'm going to go to Ravelry's ISO/DS group and see if anyone has some they'll give up for less then a new skein.

Happy with my new hat, Ruth!

Friday, February 12, 2010

J is for Jaen

Last September, a friend of mine was moving to Portland, OR. She called me and asked me to help her pack up her Yarn Room. Yes. She had a Yarn. Room.

It was a normal sized bedroom and the walls were lined with blocks of cubbies and cabinets. Each cubbie/cabinet thing was about 4' or 5' tall - each one stuffed to the gills with yarn. One wall had 3 bookcases - 6' each and these were overflowing with knitting books and magazines. In the closet she had her "project" packages - she'd put specific patterns with the yarn called for into clear plastic zip bags and hung them on hangers. There were well over 50 of these packages.
Now, I'm not one to judge another's stash. I've pretty well documented my stash as beyond S.A.B.L.E. and have no room to talk. Her stuff was fairly well organized and it didn't take long to pack most of it up. The reason she asked for help was that it was all so overwhelming for her. She said she'd walk into the room, look at it all, and just walk back out.

I was the same way when we moved in September. But, having no attachment to her yarn (other then your basic lust and envy), I was able to go in there and start clearing stuff out. She'd gone to Target and bought about 12 huge bins. I cleared one wall of cubbie/cabinet things in about 20 minutes. The whole time, I kept thinking of that line from Jaws, "We're going to need a bigger boat." She didn't have enough bins but we spent two hours packing them as best we could. I put all the books into several large boxes with very strict instructions for her to NOT try to lift them by herself as each box weighed close to 80 pounds or more. There was one box that a case of printer paper came in - I used that box just for her printed-out patterns; it wasn't big enough.

She thanked me over and over and then started thanking me, as knitters do, with yarn. I told her it was no big deal but she insisted it was as I was in my own house-move drama at the time. I told her it was a welcome break from my stuff, I was in moving mode anyway, and who wouldn't want to come play with her yarn!

She gave me 2 reddish skeins of Malabrigo which I made into the Just Enough Ruffles scarf for D2's teacher. She gave me a skein of sock yarn that she got in a sock club a year ago - one that she knew I was lusting over ever since she showed it to me. There were 2 skeins of grey Berroco Comfort that were to be a shark hat but she was aggravated by the pattern and passed them on to me so I could make one for the boys.

She had a sweater half knit in Malabrigo that was going to be "too big for any human to wear" (she said) and told me if I wanted to frog it, I could have it all. I'm not one to pass up free Mal, right? Here's the yarn after I frogged it...

It's Malabrigo Worsted in the Jaen color. I don't really care for the color and thought I'd put it up on Ravelry to sell it and buy a Mal color I liked. I've had no takers for the selling and just last weekend it occurred to me that if I just overdyed it, I'd have 5 skeins worth of Malabrigo in a color I loved!

Right now it's a yellowy-swamp-green. The current color isn't ugly or anything, it's just not me. Besides, I already have a swampy-green (no yellow) sweater and Dave likes to call it my Shrek sweater. (Shut up, Dave.) I'm going to overdye it with some form of blue. I'll share pic's after it's done. Wish me luck! (And don't hold your breath, it may take awhile before I get to it...)

Wishing for a Yarn Room of my own someday, Ruth!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I is for Insane

Well the inline hockey thing was a complete fiasco. The night of the school skate, I talked with the manager/owner (we'll call him "J") quite a bit about which class we should put the boys in and with the information he gave me, we picked the inline hockey class.

J told me that the first three "practices" were actually used to teach the kids how to use the inline skates and most of the kids that showed up had never used inlines before (just like T and D2). Also, all the first-timers get a free pair of hockey inlines as part of the class fee. We show up the next night for the first practice and WTF?? It was complete chaos and insanity. There's over 100 kids there and they are all racing around the rink like little experts. There's so many kids that the place ran out of the free skates and my boys and about 15 other kids had to use the rental inlines. So many in fact that they didn't even have D2's size of the rentals and he had to use a pair that were a size too big.

The "instruction" on how to skate consisted of a guy in the DJ booth calling out instructions to the hundred + kids whizzing around the rink. After 20 minutes of that, they had all the kids sit in the middle of the rink and the parents stand around them and they told us what the hockey league was going to be like and that today they would have skating drills and on the next session (4 days later) they would start stick drills.

I walked to the front desk and told them we wanted our money back. I explained that this was NOT what J told me it was going to be and that we were leaving. The guy convinced me to wait until this practice was over before I made up my mind.

So Dave and I waited. They had the more experienced skaters around the outside edges of the rink and the new kids in the middle. After about ten minutes, they sent T to the outside kids. Really?? Yeah, I guess the fact that he could actually stand up on the skates constituted his promotion to the outside. D2 on the other hand.... I watched him struggle to stand up on those skates for 5 minutes. 5 minutes of him falling and falling and struggling and getting more and more frustrated, trying not to cry. There were so many kids, the teachers (all 4 of them to the 100+ kids) didn't even notice - it was brutal. I couldn't watch after awhile or I was going to start crying. To see my kids feel so frustrated and to be so helpless to help them - it was awful.

By the end of the practice, T was sort of getting it and that was only because Dave pulled him aside onto the carpet outside the rink and showed him how to skate a little. D2 came off the rink in angry tears and all that practice succeeded in doing was to make him HATE inline skating.

We got our money back.

It was so heartbreaking for me to see D2 so upset. He wouldn't look anyone in the eye and he was so downtrodden and you could tell he felt like a failure. T went over to him and patted him on the back and said, "It's OK, D2, everyone falls when they first learn. They fall a lot! It's OK." So sweet! D2 still wouldn't talk to any of us or look at any of us until a couple hours after we got home.

We told them that we would wait until Spring and get them some skates and teach them how to use them and then they could learn hockey. We explained that the class wasn't what the teacher told us it would be and we apologized for getting them into a class that was clearly meant for kids with some skating experience.

I've talked before about how I feel about letting kids start an activity and then just letting them quit if they didn't like it but this wasn't like that at all. This "class" wasn't a class, it was a T-shirt hockey league and not meant for first-time skaters.

The next night, we took them to a free intro Karate class and they freakin' LOVED it! So now they look like this...

The intro class was at a dojo that was going to cost roughly $200 a month (eesh!) so we signed them up at the Rec Center instead. The Rec Center class isn't as small or as organized but they are still learning and having an excellent time.

Raising little ninjas, Ruth!