Wednesday, February 29, 2012

RIP Davy Jones

You really were my favorite Monkee.
I remember watching your show when I was four years old, staying up late, and past my older brothers' bedtimes - they used to get so mad because I could stay up and they couldn't.
Honey, nothing stands between me and what I want.
It's the beauty of being the youngest, and the only girl.
But The Monkees - I used to sit in my room and listen to their records.
I still have all of those records, and I don't know that I would ever part with them.
Today when I saw the email come into my in box that announced Davy Jones had died, I shouted.
My boss yelled, "What's wrong?"
I said, "Davy Jones from The Monkees is dead."
He replied, "I thought it was something important."
"It is!" I told him.
But how do you tell someone that a little part of your childhood died today.
Oh well, no one can take away my memories.
Here's a song that is currently making the rounds on the Web:

Two interesting points:

  1. When he tells us in the first verse that "the shaving razor's cold and it stings" Davy looks so young that it's hard to believe he's even started shaving yet.
  2. I find it interesting that this now-popular video features Davy walking off alone at the end of the song. Anyone see any similar symbolism to The Beatles and Paul is dead rumors, along with the front cover of "Abbey Road" with Paul out of step?

Friday, February 24, 2012

How Long is it Safe to Display Christmas Pictures?

I bought these two pictures at the market in December:

I paid $20 for both pictures. Well, the one on the right in the red frame is a print, and the one in the white frame is an actual painting.
I really liked them both, but I especially like the painting.
What's funny is that everyone who sees it (okay, well just my mother and my oldest daughter) says exactly what I said, "I really like the painting."
Yeah, me too. I just said that.
I don't know who the artist is, although the name is printed on the back, nor how it ended up in a market stall, and even though I'm aware that it will probably never be worth any money, I appreciate it.
It has a very quaint and homey feel to it.
So P. Pechuman, whomever you are, when you painted this in 1954, you did a great job.

Thank you.
And really, I wouldn't mind keeping it up all year!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My fingers are itchin' to be stitchin'

Cross stitching that is.
Black gold, Texas tea.
No, wait, I'm confusing myself.
I have a hankering lately to be cross stitching.
I only wish that I could sew, but we've already discussed that.
I do have a cross stitch piece that needs to be repaired, however.
Well, if not repaired, finished at least, and isn't that the perfect place to start - with something that needs to be finished.
I created this piece for my youngest. I saw the pattern in a magazine, and thought, oh this is wonderful. I stitched it on, oh gosh, maybe an Aida 16 or 18 count, something like that. I followed the pattern to a T - actually you could pick between two color schemes, and I went with the colors that were more feminine.
So I stitched, and stitched, and stitched.
When it was finished, I thought, but wait, you can't see the saying that is in the middle.
Here's what it looks like:

I looked at the pattern, I checked the internet to see if there were any corrections to the colors, but no.
Then I decided that maybe I should stitch around the letters, perhaps make them pop.
I chose a color that would coordinate with one of the lighter colors. This was in thinking that the light against the dark squares would work.
Still couldn't see the letters.
You can, actually, once you know what they are, and of course if you turn it just so, kind of like an Alien Illusion Scarf.
(Of course, in looking at this photo I also see that there is a mistake in the middle of the pattern where there's an extra line - if you look you can see it - and like all mistakes, once you see it, you can't stop looking at it.)

Finally, after consultation with the child for whom this is intended, we decided that a pink color would help. This is as far as I got on Saturday before my illness on Sunday caused me to be bedridden.
What do you think - is it better?
Want to know what it says?
"You are Loved."
This last picture will give you a good idea of when it was finished, and then folded up in frustration.

The date reads "2001".
Yes - this piece is 11 years old, and you can see that I actually intended for this to be finished.
Until I really got a look at those letters. The letters I couldn't really see, that is.
I knew I had this piece, it's traveled with me from Virginia, but it was folded/rolled up, and forgotten about. I probably couldn't find the pattern unless I spent days hunting through old stacks of magazines.
When I pulled it out a couple of weeks ago, and told the little one (who was 2 1/2 years old when I finished this) that this was for her, she got know...verklempt.
She'd never use that word.
But she was really touched, and for a teenage girl who has the typical love/hate issues with mommy, that's a good thing.
So she'll probably never notice that the pattern is a little screwed up, that some of the wrinkles may not be completely pressed out before I have it stretched and framed, and she'll never notice the half stitch that has unraveled in the solid green row above the "o" in "you" (I really should fix that at least), but she will know and remember that she is loved.
I guess I'd better get to stitchin'.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

And in the spirit of fairness to all...'s a video featuring things that knitters say.
Let me know if you can relate.

For the record, I never swatch, I always hide new yarn, and I'm always on a yarn diet.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sick, sick, sick

I know, I know, I know...I hadn't been sick once this winter.
That was true, until yesterday.
Fortunately it was a true 24-hour bug, even though it's left me a little weak, and almost completely without appetite.
That's when you know I'm sick.
Plus I was too sick to knit, and I could only read, and then sleep, and wake up to read some more, and then sleep again. And then I went to bed at 9:00 last night.
I must have been sick.
I'm on the mend, however, and am able to function like a human.
Tonight I had to drive my daughter to her friend's house, and it's a good distance from the house, so the following song is the one that I found I had to listen to, you know how that is. And then you listen to it over, and over, and over.
Fortunately the little one had headphones on, or else I wouldn't have been able to get through it once while she was in the car.
Here's an abbreviated version of the song:

Not a great video, and this piece is missing over 3 minutes of music, so if you're so inclined, take a listen to the overture in its entirety. Love that Vanessa Mae. She's an amazing (not without controversy, but still, an extremely talented musician).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Poor Wee One

My poor little one has come down with strep throat.
The timing could be considered advantageous as she is off of school all next week, but it's really not a good time at all.
She was supposed to be leaving this morning for NYC with a friend's family for four days, but she decided last night that she does not feel well enough to go.
I thought that was a very mature decision, don't you?
Well of course she's sick and she probably shouldn't go anyway, but I can tell you that around Monday she's going to regret not going because by then she'll be feeling much better.
Or else she'll start bugging me to take her shopping.
That's already happened, of course.
She's on antibiotics, but they take a while to kick in, and in the meantime last night her fever and general malaise started getting worse, so she decided to sleep in the living room.
Guess who else got to sleep there too  - on the couch.
Yes, that would be me.
And of course the dogs decided to wake me up at 4:00 by barking at roaming cats, or was it college students, and then I had to take them outside.
I'm nursing a headache, but intend to work on some projects today such as finishing a hat, and then starting on some socks.
After a nap, of course.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Finding a Supplier

We all have our addictions, and some of us are very particular about the foods we eat.
You know that's not me.
There is one thing, however, that I adore: Fresh Eggs.
Little did I know that my friend Kim, whom I met and subsequently befriended through some very interesting circumstances along with the knowledge that we share similar opinions about many pleasures (books), raises chickens.
This week I bought some.
Aren't they lovely?
If you've never had fresh eggs, and have only used the ones sold in stores that are weeks, months, years old, then you are missing out.
As Kim said, "Using a tropical fruit analogy - our eggs [the yolks] look more like oranges than lemons."

She's right.
I now have a standing order for 18 eggs a week.
I have a supplier.
I'm so happy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

And the survey says....

There are many "Books you should read before the Aztec calendar premonition comes true on December 21, 2012 and we all die horrible deaths as the world ceases to exist" lists out there.
One of my co-workers shared one with me last year, and even in its many iterations I find that sadly there are so many books still to be read.
How does one fit it all in?
What surprised me even more, however, is a conversation that took place a few days ago with my co-workers.
One of our students borrowed a Kindle from the library so she could read the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy. Great series, by the way, and you should totally check them out before the movie comes, and then, because you'll need snacks, also check out this great Website called Fictional Food. If you love food, and you love books, then this is the site for you.
Anyway, she finished the book and since she still had the Kindle for a few more weeks decided to read some of the free books already loaded on there.
I asked her what she was reading, and she replied Pride and Prejudice.
Oh, I said, you've never read it before?
Seeing as she is actually a very intelligent young woman, who happens to be a journalism and business major (which means she really does not know what she wants to be when she grows up), I thought that perhaps she would have read it in high school.
No go.
So I began to talk about my complicated relationship with Jane Austen.
And then I heard what I was saying, and I didn't want to discourage her from reading it, so I quickly reframed my comments to say, "This is an important book that everyone should read. I truly believe that. Besides, oddly enough, it does meet Harold Bloom's high standards for what should belong in the Canon, and it is a classic."
Then I asked one of my co-workers, who is working on a degree in English, if she had ever read the book.
No, was her answer.
I asked my red-headed friend who just earned her master's in student affairs leadership (or something like that).
No, was her answer as well.
My other co-worker was queried.
You know the reply.
I was astonished and quite frankly somewhat appalled.
What is happening to our society?
Granted, I never read the book until I was about 39 or so, and it was for a master's class but since then I've read it about 3 or 4 times.
And of course I've seen the A&E version with Colin Firth several times, and the Keira Knightley version too (not as good, no one beats Colin).
I'm anxious for our student to finish the book because when she's done I'm going to have her watch the series, and I want to see what she thinks.
Have you read Pride and Prejudice?
If yes, how many times?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to you!

It's been a long time since I've participated in a swap.
For those uninitiated few, a swap is when you and someone else send packages of goodies to each other.
You also get the opportunity to meet and become friends with others in the blogosphere.
My opportunity to participate in the Valentine's Day swap came when I signed up for a it via Natural Suburbia who runs a lovely blog. Check it out.

My swap partner was none other than Charlotte, author of two blogs, My Family My Way, and Sew Far Sew Good.
Charlotte lives in Devon (lucky!), and is a very crafty lady.
She makes wonderful things, sews like a champ (jealous), and shares great information about a lot of different areas.
We were matched up, and what a great swap this turned out to be.
Here is the link to what I sent to Charlotte, but here is what she sent to me, and I love it:

She included a bookmark because she thinks I read a lot.
Now where or where would she ever get that idea?
It's the perfect package to make one feel truly loved on a day like today.
Thank you, Charlotte for providing me with treasures.
Now I'm off to go read some advice from Winnie the Pooh.
Tra la!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Oy Vey, I am so Verklempt

Part of speech: adjective
Definition: Overcome with emotion; choked with emotion; gobsmacked; on the verge of tears
Etymology: Yiddish

One of my favorite words.
It's like the Yiddish aloha, or even "dude" - more than one meaning, and can be used in many different situations with the meaning varying with differing intonations.
At this moment, however, I am truly overcome with emotion (see - verklempt is quicker, and much more emphatic when I hold my hand to my chest, and close my eyes as I bow my head). If you were here you could totally see me being sincerely verklempt.
Why, you ask?
Because a package came in the mail for me on Saturday.
My good fairy AKA Major Knitter sent me a lovely Valentine's Day package.
What was in it?
Feast your eyes on this lusciousness:

Now do you understand?
I'm in love.
You do remember this yarn, right?
It's wonderful to have such wonderful friends, but Major Knitter knows that gifts or no she's got an ally in me. She is just a remarkable woman with unlimited enthusiasm and a grand passion for life.
What I love about Jimmy Beans Wool, however, is that they also stick extra goodies in with your package.
I've received hard candy before, but this time it was stitch markers.
You can see them in this pic:

Love it, love it, love it.
Now I've just got to find a good pattern so that if she and I have the opportunity to get together in a few weeks in NYC, I can show her my progress.
After all, she's the one who taught me to knit.
Big thanks to Major Knitter for everything - you're the best.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Not Sew Crafty

I've always wanted to learn how to sew.
No, that's not true.
I did learn how for the one semester in 8th grade when I was forced to take Home Ec.
Back then I did not want to be in Home Ec at all.
I'm not sure why, or at least I can't really remember why I was so averse to the idea of learning how to cook and sew.
Instead during middle school my friend Mary Ellen and I took shop.
But because this was the 1970s, 1974 and 1975 to be exact, at a time when Title IX was freshly minted, we had to get permission from our parents, and then from the school to take shop instead of Home Ec.
So in 6th and 7th grade we were the only girls in our grade in shop class - 6th grade was wood shop, and 7th grade was metal shop and printing.
Did this instill in me a lifelong passion for working with wood, or metal - no, not really.
What it did highlight to me, without even really having to think about it, is that we were doing something different that no other girl in our grades was doing.
We really weren't there to fight any battle, we just wanted to do what we wanted to do.
And this is what I think equal rights is all about, the ability to choose your own career path, and not be belittled for whatever choice you make. If a woman wants to stay home and raise a family because that is what she wants, then I support that. I worked with a woman who was a Naval Academy grad, and had been to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. She was, at the time I knew her, a Marine major, and when I was retiring she was resigning her commission. Not just leaving the active duty force for the reserves, but actually resigning completely - cutting all ties to the Marine Corps. Our general called her into his office to talk about this, to try and change her mind. She didn't. Actually she and I discussed this action at length, and I couldn't do anything but support her and her decision. What had been decided by her and her husband was that she was going to resign and stay home and homeschool their children.
Brave choice.
Her choice, not society's.
Anyway, when I was in 8th grade in 1976-77, they changed the curriculum in my district and decided that both boys and girls had to take Home Ec and shop. So there I was, stuck in Home Ec. I cannot really remember much about that class at all except that we had to sew a shirt.
And the fabric was some kind of stretchy jersey-ish polyester, and for some unknown reason I picked yellow. I hate yellow. I must not have then. Perhaps that was the moment when I threw that particular color (except when used in conjunction with a Provencal theme) into my dislike pile.
It was a bad shirt. I couldn't grasp the concept of construction.
I wish that we had done something simple like my youngest daughter had to do when she took Home and Arts last year in 6th grade - notice the name change of the class - where she made a pillow case. Now that's what I'm talking about - straight lines, not a lot of sewing in of sleeves and the like. I might not have taken such a dislike to sewing if we'd made something more simple.
I think a lot of it, however, was that I just couldn't grasp the concept. I've mentioned before that I am math-challenged, but my mechanical skills are also very low.
So if I'm going to sew I don't know that I necessarily want to graduate to making wedding dresses, but I would be happy to be able to make curtains and aprons and the like.
I have two sewing machines in my house given to me by expert sewers when they bought new ones.
I've tried it, and I just don't know if I have the touch.
Hubby does, and my youngest does - but I am just not sew crafty. And my mother wasn't either. Therein lies the problem, don't you think?
Perhaps if I had really taken to sewing when I first learned I might have been drawn to patterns like this to make for my husband:

Men in jumpsuits.
Now there's something to love about that.
And as I close for today, this snowy Saturday, and make my way back to my knitting and my book (and my Cadbury fruit and nut bar, yum), I'll leave you with these vintage 1970s ads for men's jumpsuits courtesy of Retronaut:

Be sure to click on the pics and read the ad. You'll die laughing.
These ads make me want to go watch a Burt Reynolds movie or something.

Friday, February 10, 2012

We Are Where We Eat

Proudly representing the Garbage Plate region of NYS.
Although every once in a while we head past that line into the Buffalo Wings region just to savor a Beef on Weck (as one columnist believes the region could also be called).
And the Wine region most certainly infiltrates our region if only to sell their wares at the Public Market (and probably grab some garbage plates).
So has Labatts (but I never ever drink Blue light for personal reasons).
Life is good.
So is food.
And since we're going all regional, here are a couple of videos that identify regional dialects and vernacular as well.
Sorry for the curse words, but that's how some people roll.

Can someone head to Timmy's for a dozen Timbits for me too?
And here's our region.
There will be a test after to see how many times garbage plates were discussed.

Did you get it?
I say six - four times outright, once asking about meat hot sauce, and lastly discussing Nick Tahou's.
Yes, this was a trick test.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

RIP Mrs. Pollifax

One of my favorite authors died last week.
I've written about her before, but sadly she hasn't written anything new in years.
Her name is Dorothy Gilman.
Of course after reading why she died - complications of Alzheimer's disease - I can understand why there was nothing new.
Her obit was published on February 3 in the New York Times, and I have to admit that I didn't realize how sad her passing would make me feel.

Dorothy Edith Gilman was born in New Brunswick, N.J., on June 25, 1923; she decided on a writing career when she was still a child. Planning to write and illustrate books for children, she studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Under her married name, Dorothy Gilman Butters, she began publishing children’s books in the late 1940s. 
I understand that an author is not wholly the main character in their books, but there has to be some part of them that leeches out and into the characters. So don't blame me too much if I visualize Dorothy Gilman as Mrs. Pollifax. Now for those unfamiliar with this character, Mrs. Pollifax was the elderly (if 60ish is elderly - maybe in the '60s it was) widow who decided that she had reached the point where she wasn't needed anymore, so she should either kill herself or fulfill her life's wish of becoming a spy. Fortunately for the world, Mrs. Pollifax made the drastic and dangerous decision of becoming an employee of the CIA, and she enjoyed a 14-book run - now don't you think that's impressive?

Clever, lucky and naïvely intrepid, Mrs. Pollifax employs common sense and a little karate to rescue the kidnapped; aid the resistance (when you are a suburban lady spy, a fashionable hat is ideal for concealing forged passports); and engage in all manner of cheery deception (when doing business with a malefactor who is expecting a can of plutonium, a can of peaches makes an excellent if short-term substitute).
I have to confess - although I might have done this before - but I have read her series, either in whole, or a book at a time, at least 10 times, and I can say this without it being hyperbole. It's also nice to know that I am not alone in my fondness for Dorothy Gilman author, or Mrs. Pollifax, spy. There is a wonderful blog devoted to Mrs. Pollifax, and the blog's author can provide even more comprehensive information on the series, if you're interested. But don't limit your reading to just the Mrs. Pollifax books - Dorothy Gilman was a very prolific author who wrote some wonderful books that were not series, but stand alone as complete works.

One of the things that you may notice, if you decide to pick up a Dorothy Gilman book is that she deals a lot with spirituality, and finding ways to discover oneself, or hidden strengths, either through religion, mysticism, or spirituality. As much as I love Mrs. Pollifax, my two favorite books do not feature her, but are separate books: Incident at Badamya and Caravan. I never tire of reading these books, and I doubt I ever will.

RIP Dorothy Gilman, and know that I am not alone in loving the work you have left behind. Through this you will live forever.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Why do they insist on doing this?

Every month it's a new color.
Every month it's a new temptation.
Sometimes when I get the emails I have to delete them before I even open them, that way I won't be tempted by the new and luscious colors.
They being Jimmy Bean's Wool, and the other relative pronoun being Lorna's Laces February 2012 special edition color: New Beginnings.
Wow, thanks for creating a great color combination for February - colors I love - pink, red, and gray with white bringing it all together.
Look at that - isn't that something?
If I needed to treat myself I'd certainly buy some of this yarn.
But I will resist.
Won't I?
Although under my current new year plan resolutions I am still able to receive gifts.
Just sayin'.
(You know that I'm totally buying this yarn, right?)

Monday, February 06, 2012

I've Raised a Family of Professional Magicians

It's true.
Every one of my children is a magician.
I don't know where they get this ability - it's something that they have intuited, and then honed into a keen skill. Like how to fix computers - I think their brains are wired differently now. Now granted some of my children (well one of them anyway) does not live at home anymore, and then the oldest, who is 27, really is a grown man, and not a child.
Oh but he had his moments too.
They all did, or do.
How they have become magicians I still wonder about because certainly they possess more skill than I ever had. I was skilled at certain things, but they've really become quite adept.
What kind of magic tricks can they do?
Well let's see, first there's:

1. Their ability to escape any bonds of punishment.
Tell them they can't leave the house, and what do you know, hours later they've gone off somewhere with friends.

2. Their innate belief that you, their parent, have the ability to pull a rabbit (or flying squirrel, what have you) out of a hat. An example? It's Sunday night, and they suddenly realize that they: (choose appropriate answer) a. have to complete a project with 10,000 sugar cubes; b. write a five page paper and they need books from the library that, oh by the way is closed on Sundays; c. buy craft supplies from a store that closed two hours ago; d. need 2 dozen cupcakes for a class party the next morning; e. _____________ (fill in the blank). I would usually call this something much more vulgar, using the phrase about pulling the required object from my nether-regions, but you get the idea.

3. The ability to hypnotize. You know what I'm talking about with this one - it's when they convince you to buy something, go somewhere, or do something that you had said you, or they, would not/could not do. Refer to ability #1.

4. The disappearing child act. I need help with the laundry? Wait, where are the kids? The dogs need to go out? I'm suddenly alone in the room. I used to be able to perform this trick very well when it was time to do the dishes, but my children make me look like an amateur.

5. And last, but not least, the slight of hand. I never carry cash, but somehow they can sense when I have it, and's gone! How do they do it? Twenty dollars goes into my pocket, and then Poof! it's gone!
Are your children magicians? Were you?

Sunday, February 05, 2012

...and we might not even watch the game!

Football is such an American sport.
American football that is.
Football, or Fußball, is a more popular sport in every other country.
We call it soccer.
Sure, they play American football in other countries, but they do identify it that way - as American football.
I didn't just make up that term.
Now have you ever wondered why American women are such amazing soccer players, but the men can barely get past the quarterfinals of the World Cup?
Consider that, and get back to me.
My husband, being from South America, can tolerate American football, but futbol is his beautiful game.
When I was growing up the TV was always tuned to football (and now I'm talking about American football, just so you're clear).
I enjoyed football then too.
How could you not?
Football is so ingrained in American culture, and it's become more of a social activity than enjoying it for pure sport.
And let's be honest - games take for-ever.
I thought last Sunday's Shoe comic strip really captured the essence of how long a game actually takes:

Look away from the field during a soccer game for even a few seconds and you can miss a lot.
Look away from the football field, and, well, I think we're clear on what you've missed.
(For those keeping score, it's either nothing, or not a heck of a lot.)
Football, then, is about sitting around a room for a long period of time, watching television, and, here's the best part, eating food.
Wait, I didn't even mention the commercials!
I've decided that tonight, however, I am prepared to enter into the festivities, so I will be making the following:

  1. Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
  2. Buffalo Chicken Dip
  3. Buffalo Chicken Wings
Wait, hold on, I'm sensing a theme's...nope, don't see it.
Let me know if you find something - oh, wait, I see, I forgot to tell you that there are plenty of fresh veg for the dip.
Silly me.
Last year we ordered pizza from a local place, and they were so busy that this year I am not going to do that again. I had to wait about 20 minutes once I was there, and their waiting area is very small, and was filled with a lot of angry people who just wanted their pizza and to get home because the game was on!
For them, apparently, it's not just about food and commercials, they want to watch the game too (and drink beer). This year the pizza place is offering a free tray of nachos and dip with the purchase of pizza, and as enticing as that sounds, I still think I'll skip it.
In my family, well we'll have the food, and we'll have the beer, but will we be watching the game?
It is the Super Bowl after all.
I hate to alienate so many of my loyal followers (I count at least ten) who are total football fans, but it's not likely.
Hubby is all about futbol 24/7, and even as I write this (which is 6:55 AM on a Sunday morning), he is watching Lazio vs. Genoa on Fox Soccer Channel.
Oh we'll know who won (hopefully the Giants), but I can't even tell you right now if it will be on in our house.
But we'll be eating.
You can count on that.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Now Go With Me On This

It's February, and I haven't gotten sick once this winter.
That, my friends, is highly unusual.
Do you know why I think that is?
Well in referring back to my plan at the beginning of the year, I have made it a point to bring my lunch to work almost every day. In addition, we have not been eating out nearly as much as we usually have. Although when we eat out, we usually eat in, meaning we'll get pizza and wings, watch a movie, and all is right with the world.
Last night after my eldest daughter commented on how bad my hair looked, she also noted that it looked like I had lost weight.
Well first, thanks a lot, and second, thanks! But to be fair, I was wearing black, and the lights were dim in the lobby of the building, so what she might have thought was shadow was actually an extension of my hips and a**. But thanks again anyway. I kind of think so too.
For my red headed friend and I, bringing lunch to work has become almost a support group of sorts for each other. Sure we enjoy the occasional pizza on a Friday when we and our co-workers gather around the counter, ensuring that our collective girth maintains the upright position of said one ton counter, and subsequently gorge ourselves.
The rest of the time, however, we eat at our desks.
And we eat (relatively) healthy meals!
I have used a vegetable stock recipe that my red headed friend has been using for years as the basis for most of my chicken or turkey soups (maybe she'll share it with us?), but I like a good cream soup too.
Not being lactose-intolerant is a blessing, and if you are, my apologies for this blatant appreciation of foodstuff that derives from cow's milk.
I love Panera Bread - mostly for their bacon turkey bravo sandwiches, but also because I love their broccoli soup.
Because they are an extremely expensive eatery (at least I think so, $60 or so for five people? that's high in my book, but what do I know, I'm sooo provincial), and also because the closest restaurant is 12 miles away, I don't eat there as much as I used to (like when we lived in Northern Virginia and thought nothing of driving 12 miles in very heavy traffic to go places). New York State will change you (or maybe it's the cold weather and the desire to hibernate...or laziness).
So when I picked up a big bag of broccoli at the local farm market just before Christmas, I knew that I wanted to make some broccoli soup. After all, I have a freezer to fill.
It was late broccoli, and they were labeled as seconds (meaning, I think, some parts were starting to become a tad discolored, or yellow), but a bag with about 10 heads of broccoli cost about five dollars or so.
I came home and immediately started looking for a good broccoli soup recipe - cheese in the soup was not necessary, but I wanted a creamy soup.
I found this one on Allrecipes:

Best Broccoli Soup
By Carolyn Weinberg

2 cups water
4 cups chopped fresh broccoli
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon onion salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, bring water to boil. Add broccoli, celery and carrots; boil 2-3 minutes. Drain; set vegetables aside. In the same kettle, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour to form a smooth paste. Gradually add the broth and milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil; boil and stir for 1 minute. Add vegetables and remaining ingredients. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

What I like about the Allrecipes site is that you can also manipulate the ingredients to reflect amounts required for a larger, or smaller number of servings. For the first batch I made enough soup to feed 25 people.
Why? Do I have to tell you again? Really? I have a freezer to fill, folks.
So the first batch I thought was very, very good.
But my second batch was even better.
Yes, I had that much broccoli. Oh, and there was some leftover for a casserole. It was quite a lot of broccoli.
Into the second batch I added some cheese, and pieces of potato.
That batch was as good as, or even better than, Panera's.
Why go out, when you can make it at home.
Now back to the healthy part.
I haven't gotten sick this winter, not once (don't say "yet," don't say it!).
Part of me believes that this is for several reasons:

  1. The only hands that touch my food are mine. Granted, I won't be getting an A+ rating from the Health Department, but I am used to my own germs.
  2. Eating fewer processed foods of unknown origin. Well, they are being "processed", but mostly by me. 
  3. Have you seen what they've been putting in McDonald's burgers?
  4. I've been saving money on my grocery bill, and that, my friends, is less stressful overall.
  5. We've hardly had much of a winter - January temps in the 40s and 50s? Yes, I know, sickness is spread by germs, not the weather, but it's really been a strange winter. It could be that we're not locked inside quite so much like normal when our offices become germ gestation stations.
So no flu so far, no colds, maybe a little post-nasal drip, but it hasn't turned into anything worse.
I'm hopeful.
And of course I do realize that I have probably just jinxed myself.
Well, being sick does mean that I can enjoy more soup, right?

Friday, February 03, 2012


It has become apparent to me during my many years on this earth, that we all have different levels of obsession fascination with celebrities.
For some, we would go out of our way to breathe the same air, and for others, well, they could be standing there and we would turn away, totally disinterested.
Well, that's how I roll anyway.
I suppose this would be part of the laws of attraction too.
Some may find the cute guy who gives out parking tickets attractive, and others may like the guy who works on their computer.
It's all a matter of taste - preference, if you will.
During my life I have met, or breathed the same air as, some seemingly important people.
Not all of them have caused me to become excited to be in their presence.
And again, it's about what interests me.
So let's go back over my preferences which are, in no particular order knitting, books, and music.
And here's a segue.
I was looking through my bookshelf this morning, surprised at the number of books I have that I didn't even realize I owned!
Sad, I know.
Of course I didn't find the one book that I was looking for (and you know that as soon as I buy it again I will find it), but I did find another that I have wanted to read - Adrienne Martini's Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously, but obviously bought and shelved, and that's where it's been.
I really had forgotten about this book, not because I think it's bad, but mostly because it was on a bookshelf and hidden by some other things (namely knitting patterns). It really needs to be moved to my ever-growing to-be-read bookshelf. (Just wanted to assure you that I did move it - I know you were concerned.)
In looking through the book I realized (again because I know that I knew this when I purchased the book originally) that Adrienne Martini teaches in the same state university system in which I work.
How close we are! And yet so far. Her campus is three hours or so away.
But this is totally awesome, right?
Is she someone that everyone would know?
Perhaps not, but she is a published author so according to my standards (or preferences), and I say this even while working on a college campus where there are a plethora of professors who have published, I'm thrilled. And this is mostly because she's also a knitter.
Now who doesn't love a knitter, I ask you. (Note the lack of a question mark - I'm not looking for a rebuttal to this statement.)
I'm certainly not the best knitter in the world, nor the most enthusiastic, but I do love making the things that I am able to create. It is a very fulfilling activity, and the yarn is just so darn pretty.
Hang on, here's another segue.
Imagine my delight when they announced that a performer at an upcoming concert was hosting a knitting circle before her show. That sounds like a show that is right up my alley.
Can you guess the performer?
None other than.....Christine Lavin.
Ask me if I'm ten kinds of excited about the concert tonight.
I think you know the answer.
Do I listen to her music?
I can honestly say that I recently discovered her through Pandora of all places (she pops up on my Kate Rusby station), and I didn't really even connect who she was until I looked at the Christmas CDs that I had randomly purchased two years ago and realized that I had indeed purchased Christine Lavin Presents: Just One Angel.
I'm a little slow at connecting those dang dots, but eventually I make my way there.
I don't think I'm at a disadvantage in not being overly familiar with her music.
After all, she's a knitter.
And knitters, as we know, are exceptional people.
(All hand crafters are exceptional, let's be honest.)
And as a knitter I'm sure she'll be forgiving, and grateful that we've been drawn to her concert through our mutual love of yarn, and we will more than likely go away as life long fans.
I'm counting on it.
Would I feel this same way if Brad Pitt, or someone equally famous were showing up for an event?
No, because again, their attraction to others doesn't float my boat. (Although for some reason I have this attraction to Jean Reno - I think it's the French accent. Don't say eww; again, it's personal preference, right?)
I feel no common bond with some of these famous celebrities.
Singers (and writers) who knit, however, oh yeah, we're there.
Tonight, then, my red headed friend, my knitting friend, my daughter, and I will be welcomed into the inner circle.
This is going to be an exceptional evening spent in the company of exceptional people.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Some things just make me so angry that I could spit

Well really.
When hubby and I (and of course the kids) lived in Europe for four years (London and Germany) we became completely addicted to EastEnders.
We started watching it while staying in The Tudor Lodge where we lived for about two months.
It was nice, but what a culture shock.
This was 1992, so I remember it was odd watching the summer Olympics from the viewpoint of another country.
The sportscasters kept cheering for the British athletes, and we would get all excited during an event, and then think, "Wait, where are the Americans."
The power of the media, eh.
So with small kids (they were 7, 5, and 1 respectively), we spent evenings in getting them to bed.
And that's when the BBC magic happened.
Hubby and I soon took to watching EastEnders.
We absolutely loved the explosive relationships between Phil, Grant and Sharon, and loved how Michelle couldn't stand Grant (and then got pregnant by him!). Oh and greedy Ian, and conniving Cindy, and all those wonderfully larger than life, filled with drama characters.
Great stuff.
What was even cooler was that Sharon's father - well, not the character, but Letitia Dean, the woman who plays Sharon - her father was a tailor who worked in the Exchange down at the Naval Headquarters in London. We would shop there, and see him, and think, "Gol, that's Sharon's dad!"
It was very much a "squee!" kind of situation.
(Hubby did see Robbie one time in a London club when he went back for a site visit, but we never did see anyone else. Darn work always gets in the way of fun, doesn't it?)
When we finally moved back to the States, we were abruptly weaned off of EastEnders.
What a shock.
I still get the shakes just thinking about it.
This was during the early days of the internet too, so even though we picked up AOL in 1996 (along with the rest of the country), and we could read what was going on with our favorite favourite characters, it just wasn't the same.
YouTube hadn't been invented yet.
Imagine that.
Finally, our friend Nick, who we had been stationed with overseas, moved from NC to Virginia Beach, and his PBS station was airing EastEnders.
Nick would send us copies of the show after he'd watched it, and since his wife was a Brit, she loved the show too.
Not that being British means you have to love the show - I know that there are those who don't, but really, this is a very popular British show.
Then Nick's PBS station did the unthinkable -- they declared EastEnders too expensive, and stopped showing it.
Denied yet again!
It was awful. We had to wean ourselves all over again.
I understand that this is an expensive show - it is on three times a week, has a slew of characters, and I'm sure the popularity has driven up costs, but come on America, this is good stuff!
When I interviewed for a job as an EA at our local PBS station, during the interview I told the boss that I thought they should be airing EastEnders.
He gave me the old song and dance, and said, "Yadda, yadda, yadda, too expensive, blah, blah, blah."
Well they've never picked up EastEnders, and I didn't get the job either.
So here we've had about 10 years without EastEnders, and I'm managing my addiction rather well.
That is until I see this news:
Sharon is coming back.
Oh yes, the bitch is back one more time, and I'm so upset that I have to miss it.
Know of anyone who is hiring in England?
I could be ready to, well, right away!
There's a drink waiting for me at the Queen Vic.
While I'm waiting for you to work out details of my future employment, here's some vintage EastEnders - Grant discovering his wife's affair with his brother.
Explosive - just like I said!!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Some things are bigger than what I can do.
Such as counting.
Or math.
Math is hard, and it involves a lot of counting.
Or is that really arithmetic.
I'm sure there's a difference.
Knitting lace patterns involves a lot of math simple arithmetic.
And sometimes these highly-involved patterns contain errors.
If you find a pattern without errors, however, and then an error occurs, whom can you blame?
Only yourself.
So that would be.... me, right? non-error free Freya shawl.
 As you can see, I haven't gotten very far into the shawl.
What you don't know is that this is the third time I've gotten to this point.
This time around I made an effort to be very conscientious of every stitch, and yet I still have one extra on row 16.
I don't mind ripping back at this point, but it's those dang SSK's that create problems for me.
I'm challenged that way.
Has anyone made this shawl?
It seems simple enough, but for some reason I've made mistakes each time, and really a lot of that has to do with the stitch count.
What kills me about the pattern is that about halfway through the directions state, and I quote:
 **If you aren’t counting stitches anymore because you’ve grasped the pattern, do count them every few rows. At this point it is easy to miss a YO or somehow end up with too many stitches which can get magnified as you go on and is really hard to repair if it’s gone on for too long! If you find your stitch count off, don’t despair! You can easily fudge this pattern so it looks good to all but the most discerning eye. For too many stitches, in the S2K1psso, you can slip 3 instead of two to eat an extra stitch. For too few, you can do a K2TOG instead of the S2K1psso at the end of the repeat to create a stitch for the next row.
Well those are very good instructions, but my problem is I'm not good at arithmetic, so I would love to find someone who has done a stitch count for each row on this pattern so that I know exactly where I'm supposed to be at all times.
This is a lovely shawl, and I have some great yarn that I"m using, and I would like to finish it, but if I can't even watch a program and knit a simple shawl without losing count, I might as well go back to knitting hats.
I have arrived at one solution, and I do welcome others, but I think I might unknit this row, pull out stitch markers and place them at the start of each pattern repeat so that I can check them at the end of the row.
I mean really, I'm up to like 89 stitches now, and only on row 16 what am I going to do when there are over 200 stitches on my needles?
By the way, the money in that photo should not be considered a bribe, but hey, if giving away a buck will get someone to help me out, have at it.
And speaking of Freya, Norse mythology, and the like, here's a song by one of my favorite bands performing one of my favorite songs: