Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Last post, I mentioned how my sweater-in-progress and I had hit a stalemate. Well today, I broke it! I finally (freakin' finally) figured out how to finish off the sleeves!

I had planned to finish the sleeves off with a 1/1 ribbing but I didn't like how it looked, so I frogged it. I tried a couple of other things and then gave up for a bit to noodle on it some more. Today, I had something else I wanted to try and, lo and behold, it worked!

My solution? Double knitting!

I Win!

I did [Round 1: *Knit, slip* around; Round 2: *Slip, purl* around] seven times, creating two layers of fabric which I then grafted together. I love it! When it stretches out (when the sweater is put on) it creates a nice almost-ribbing look that differentiates from the stockinette sleeve but it looks a lot neater than the ribbing. It still needs a good blocking to even out the stitches, but I'm so happy that I have a solution!

One sleeve is all one and I'm half way through finishing off the cuff of the second sleeve. Then blocking, hemming, sewing in the ends and then WEARING! Whee!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Update-y Type Things

It's been a bit since I've posted, so I thought I'd do a nice update catch-all post.

First off, the reason I've been sorta MIA is that we've had internetular issues lately. The provider replaced some equipment and it took them a while to get things straight but even now we have short outages and massive slowdowns. It's super annoying and, during the worst of it, I was avoiding my computer because of the frustration it would induce. For the most part we are okay-ish now, but there is still room for improvement.

In other news, ONK (outdoor neighbor kitty) is still outdoors and still belongs to our neighbors. She really wants to live with us, though, given by the number of times she tries to sneak in an open door.


After accidentally trapping her in our garage three times (she's a sneaky thing), we've taken to leaving our garage door cracked so she can come and go at will. I had an old cat bed out there while I tried to figure out the best way to wash it and ONK has claimed it as her own. A couple of weeks ago when it got so cold, we ended up putting her claimed bed in a box and putting a windbreak around it and, later, we ended up putting our old electric blanket in it. So yeah, she's got a sweet set up in our garage. Now that our other neighbors have moved (they also had a bed for her in their garage) ONK seems to spend every night with us. And most days she's camped out on our porch. She also typically follows me to the mailbox and back. So yeah, she wants to be ours. But we've been good and haven't stolen her. Yet.

Of course, with a kitty in the garage, you can bet my car looks stellar. She likes to walk on it and it rained a bit ago, so yeah, muddy paw prints all over. Fun, yes? No. Not at all.

But less fun is this:


That's my windshield. Or it used to be. I was on the way to the chiropractor when this ping-pong-sized rock flew across the road and smashed into the middle of my windshield. The divot it made was practically quarter-sized. So now I have a new windshield. Yay! (I still have muddy paw prints, though. I need to fix that.)

In hobby news, I've hit a bit of a delay (again) with my sweater. It seems that I cannot simultaneously knit and plan what I am going to do with it. The minute my mind begins questioning, "What's the best way to do this part of it?" I find myself incapable of actually knitting until I figure out an answer. My current question is "what's the best way to finish off the arms?" I've still got an inch or two to knit before I have to do whatever it is I'm going to do (I'm thinking a half inch of 1/1 ribbing with a tubular bind off, but I'm not sold on the idea yet), but still, I've stalled with the actual knitting because I don't have a definite answer. Though before my brain popped up with this question I did manage to get most of the sleeves knit, so that's good. Which means I just have to knit a couple of inches, finish off the sleeves (tubular bind-off, hem, rolled edge, seed stitch?), block and then sew up the bottom hem and fold over a bit for a hem on the collar band (to give a cleaner finish and stop any rolling). Which sounds like a lot, but honestly, I'm so close to a wearable sweater that I can taste it! If I could just get back to knitting it! (Any thoughts from anyone as to either a 1/1 ribbing or a folded hem (the two I seem to be debating) would be more than welcome to help me end my mental stalemate.)

Dan's hobby seems to be going better than mine right now. Not his beer, one, his sound-related one. He used to be big into speakers and sound system stuff when he was younger but has sort of migrated out of it (the speakers in his car are even stock!) but he still has a love of those expensive electronics. So when our receiver started going out, Dan got the chance to express that love by buying a new one.

New Toy

It's kind of insane - not only does it have awesome sound but you can even control it through a computer or phone app. No joke, this is fancy. I don't even want to think about the cost, but he got a good deal on it and it has good sound, so if I start thinking, "OMG, how much did we just spend?", I can just turn up the music and let it drown out my thoughts.

In Gidget news, we had a dental check up for her and she was given a tentative all clear. She is doing great (no pawing or air chewing) but the tentative part comes in simply because of how fast her other teeth went bad, one after the other, and the dentist is concerned that her three remaining canines will be next. So she wants a recheck in six months and, if things are good still, Gidget will be given the full okay. My fingers are crossed that Gidget gets to keep her remaining teeth, if only because having to lose them would mean she went through more pain and that's not cool. Interestingly enough, Gidget's case was so special because of how fast her healthy teeth went bad that she's been presented to dental and veterinary panels. Such a special girl.

And I think that is about it! I'm sure there have been other little things, but nothing huge (or picture-worthy) so they can be skipped. Assuming our internet cooperates, I'll try to be better about posting. Hopefully I'll have a completed sweater post to share soon!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Disagree

There is snow on the ground outside.

Not a lot of it. But still. Boo.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Random Propaganda

It is winter here, and while Texas winters don't get that cold, they still get plenty cold for me. Normally during the winter, Dan and I use our electric blanket. It's a lovely thing that makes for a nicely warmed bed at night. But it is old and made of some sort of synthetic material that sort of creeps me out if it touches my skin. So last week we decided to order a heated mattress pad. I had heard good things about them so I wanted to try one. (Plus, we got it from Costco so we knew we could return it easily if it wasn't awesome.)

It came in on Monday and... it is awesome. I'm actually almost sad that the weather has warmed up a bit! Even on the lowest setting it makes the bed toasty warm and there are no cold spots like I'd sometimes get on the electric blanket. (Apparently in the fight of electric blanket versus my cold feet, cold feet win. Not with the heated mattress pad though!) It's just this great, cozy warmth from heat to toe. Totally fantastic.

Anyway, totally random post but the heated mattress pad really is so awesome that I had to share. So if you've been thinking about getting one, do it!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Adventure Continues

I've been feeling all domestic these past couple of weeks. Which is good since, you know, housewife. But I've been cooking a lot more and trying new recipes, which is exciting. The increase culinary adventurousness seems to have unintentionally corresponded to the new year so it's like I've made a hidden resolution or something, but I haven't. It's simply because my shoulder is feeling like normal (finally!) so I can once again do things like use kitchen implements.

Poor Dan - for a while frozen pizza was seen much too frequently at our dinner table. But hey, it was painless to cook! Of course, now that all cooking is painless, I can get back to the fun stuff. Such a crawfish étouffée.

Crawfish Étouffée

I don't know why Cajun food intimidates me so. Perhaps because my favorite gumbo recipe takes three plus hours to make and includes both carving a chicken and shredding it once it is cooked. Or maybe because of the roux. Anything with a roux both excites me and makes me a bit nervous. But in a good way. I love roux-making. But, for whatever reason, I had been too chicken to make my planned étouffée until just recently. As in Monday.

I used a combination of four recipes, all from the Talk About Good Cookbook. And I feel a bit dumb being intimidated by it because it ended up being fantastically easy. Which is good because it also ended up being fantastically delicious so I will be making this again.

I'm not sure what's next in my culinary fun-ness. Well, I do have plans to make Alton Brown's Good Eats meatloaf, but it's meatloaf so I don't think it is that adventurous. Plus, Dan and I (finally) inventoried our freezers so I'll be picking out some recipes to use the goodies we have in there - lots of pork and venison. Fortunately, I have a few good venison recipes that I really like (a wet hash and a barbecue dish) but I might branch out a bit. See if I can't substitute venison in some lamb or mutton recipes.

Anyway, it's nice to be back really cooking again. Yay for non-hurt shoulders!

(Of course, last week I improperly lifted something heavy so my lower back is killing me, but I'm going to ignore that for now because it's gonna go away soon. It will. I am determined. Denial is a lovely thing!)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Technical Issues are Still Tasty

Dan is dangerous to go grocery shopping with. When I go on my own, I do a strategic strike, going directly to the things on my list, grabbing them and leaving. When Dan and I go together, though, we meander through the aisle and end up with a fair number of random non-list things in our cart.

Our last Costco trip, for instance. We walked by some canned clams. Dan oohed and said he liked clam chowder. I said let's get it and I'll learn how to make chowder. So we did. And I did.


As you can see, for some reason, making clam chowder for the first time wasn't a big enough challenge. I decided I should make bread bowls, too. That didn't go as well as the chowder. The dough wasn't firm enough so the bowls-to-be kept spreading outwards, looking more like hamburger buns. Eventually, I decided to cook them like one does biscuits, setting them next to each other so they have to go up instead of out.

That worked, but it meant my bowls ended up looking more like large dinner rolls than any bread bowl I've seen. And not having the sides exposed meant they didn't form a hard crust so they weren't exactly water (or chowder) tight.

However, they certainly were tasty (as was the chowder)! Which is good because we did get the clams at Costco, which means I have another 51oz can. I'll be making this again.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

We're Off to a Great Start!

Dan and I have been feeling fairly traveled out so we didn't drive my parents' house today for the traditional New Year's meal. Instead, we traveled to the (much closer) grocery store. And since we were missing the extended family traditional meal, we decided to do one of our own.

For those not blessed to be Southern, it's a common tradition to eat leafy greens and black eyed peas on New Year's Day. Neither of which Dan and I had on hand, so we picked up some fresh peas and spinach (collards are more traditional, but I was in a spinach mood). Tradition, however, does not dictate an entree. Pork is common, but not required. Not feeling all that pork-inclined, I determined I would start the new year with a new culinary experience.

I decided to make fried chicken.

I've never made fried chicken. I'm still pretty darn new to the frying thing and find it somewhat intimidating still. But I whipped out my Alton Brown and followed the directions (well, as much as I can follow directions). The end result?


New Year's Dinner

I'm so happy with how it turned out! I pan-fried it (another first) and it resulted in probably the moistest, juiciest fried chicken ever. Seriously fantastic.

There are a couple things I'd tweak next time, but it was good enough to ensure that there would be a next time. And even more of a bonus, now I know what I can do with the blocks of lard I got when Dad and I bought and split a pig!

Mmm, a New Year's dinner of chicken fried in lard. Notice on my previous post that weight loss is not one of my goals? (Okay, it probably should be. Especially if I keep frying things in lard for the rest of this year.)

Happy 2013!

You know, a month or so ago I actually caught myself writing 2010 on something as the date. But 13 has always been a good number for me so hopefully I can remember what year it is this year.

The past two years, I've made book-related goals. This year, I'm going to kind of skip that. Kinda. I still want to continue to read "real" books but I'll see how I can do without the pressure of a goal driving me and instead focus on reading some of my kitchen-related books. I've been skipping then because, while they would have counted for my "real" book goals, they weren't exactly going to be plot-driven reads or anything and some of them I want to use as a reference while doing some stocking up (because I am determined to buy more me-friendly knives this year) and that will take longer than just reading a book cover to cover.

And speaking of previous goals, Dan and I missed our 2012 savings goal by just under two grand. And that shortage can easily be explained by the unexpected (and rather expensive) dental needs Bitty and Gidget had this year. So even though it was technically another goal that we did not accomplish, I'm really pleased with what we did. We set the amount to be challenging (but not impossible) so to have gotten so close means we really did a good job. It's a nice feeling. For 2013, we won't be so hardcore - we've decreased our goal amount for savings a tad but mostly to adjust for the increased amount we can put in an IRA and to better save for future emergency issues. Thrilling, yes? Hitting that will be this year's saving's goal but honestly, it shouldn't be one we should have to work at much. (Hopefully those don't go down as famous last words.)

Other than that, I don't think I/we have any New Year's resolutions. I'd like to increase my upper body strength (never that good, horrible after all my shoulder issues) but that's something I've been working on the past month, so that's not exactly New Year related.

Oh, I'm wrong! I do have one more goal, and this one isn't as nebulous as the previous "read kitchen books" and "save money" goals. I want to knit! Specifically a pair of socks and a cabled or yoked sweater. I'm sure I'll get more than two knitting projects in over the next twelve months, but those are three things I really want to do. Socks because I have yet to knit any and I think I'll like doing them (given how much I enjoy doing gloves, mittens and the like) and a sweater because it's a big project (bigger than the sweater I'm making now even) and it's always nice to have a goal that can push you, you know?

I think that's it. Yay for goals!