Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Means...

It's time to decorate for Christmas!

Of course, not everyone can wait until after Thanksgiving. We saw this guy last weekend; apparently he wanted to get a jump on his Christmas decorating.

Festive Driving

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I Win!

Dan and I have NHL Center Ice, so we end up seeing a lot of commercials for St. Louis and southern California while we watch our teams' games. A season or two ago, the California station played this particular casino commercial a lot.

Please play the commercial for theme music while reading the rest of this post. Because apparently, that song fits my yarn experiences this month.

I have won two yarn prizes! The first one was a random drawing for those in my 12 Socks in 2014 sock group that completed socks in October. For that, I won this delightful pink bamboo and wool sock yarn, which I can't wait to try out!

Crystal Palace Yarns Panda Wool

Then last week, I won a prize package in a drawing for participants of October's DFW Yarn Crawl. I won a ton of yarn - 10 skeins of an aran superwash wool and two skeins of a lace merino and silk wool. And, if that weren't enough, the prize also included a lovely wooden crochet hook!

Ella Rae Extrafine Heather Swans Island Merino Silk Furls Crochet Hook

Of course, now I have to find a place to put all that yarn! I am going to need to rearrange my craft cabinet to free up an extra shelf for yarn! (Not that I'm complaining, of course. Because yarn!)

Yay for yarn winning!


It's no secret that I love Le Creuset enameled cast iron. All the joy of cooking with heat-retaining cast iron, none of the worry about tomato-based recipes killing the seasoning. I am particularly in love with their round French ovens - they are my go-to pots and I have a fair number of them. My favorite one has always been what we called "the big orange pot". It's a nine quart pot (the #30 size, for those non-quart people) that has pretty much been my daily-use pot ever since we bought it. It spends more time on my stove or drying on the counter than it does put up in its cabinet. There's only one problem with it - when we make soup we get really close to boiling it over.

So last weekend, we happened to be near a Le Creuset outlet. And that outlet happened to be having a sale. You see where this is going? Yeah, we bought a new "big" pot. How big? Well, here it is next to our previous big-boy, the 9 quart.

Le Creuset #30 & #34

The new pot is a whopping 13 quarts (#34!). It's HUGE. And heavy. It barely fits in the sink for washing. And I love it. In the first two days we owned it, we used it twice, once for a triple recipe of applesauce (we had a ton of apples) and once for soup. Fabulous.

Of course, I don't think it will replace my beloved orange pot for daily use. But it will be our go-to soup pot, which is the whole point of it.

Part of me knows how ridiculous it was that we got this pot - I mean, it's HUGE and nothing Le Creuset is cheap. That being said, don't think we actually paid anywhere near full price for this. I've wanted this pot for ages but could not justify paying what it sells for. But knock a couple hundred off the price? Yes please!

And now I must return to the kitchen to pet it and tell it how fabulous it is.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Try, Trying, Tried

Has anyone read A Clockwork Orange? Because I tried to start reading it last night and couldn't get past page one. Rassoodocks, mesto, skorry, veshches, moloko, vellocet, synthemesc, drencrom, mozg, peet... Seriously? I get made up words, especially when you have a dystopian or post-apocolyptic or in-some-way-massively-different world to create but your readers also have to understand a little bit about what you are trying to say.

I tried reading page one three times and even tried out page two before I realized I couldn't as I was completely distracted by the words I didn't understand.

Does it get better or should I just give up now?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book 13: What Just Happened Here?

It's been established that I like weird books. And apparently when it comes to Japanese fiction, I like violent books. (I'm not really sure why I keep reading Japanese fiction where people are killed. Maybe that's just a lot of the Japanese fiction that gets translated into English?)
Basically people who love horror movies are people with boring lives. They want to be stimulated, and they need to reassure themselves, because when a really scary movie is over, you’re reassured to see that you’re still alive and the world still exists as it did before.
Earlier this year, I read a book by Ryu Murakami that started with a random murder and ended with the firebombing of a Tokyo suburb. It was weird and oddly entrancing, so I decided to read something else by him. I picked In the Miso Soup.

I'm not really sure if I can explain this book. Basically, a Japanese tour guide is hired to show an American around the seedy side of Tokyo's nightlife. The American ends up being a serial killer.

“He’s checking out a Print Club booth.”
“A what?”
“You know, that machine that takes photos of you and then prints them out on cute little stickers. I don’t think he knows how it works. He’s watching a group of girls posing for a picture.”
“I think you’re probably all right, then, Kenji. I can’t imagine a murderer making Print Club photos of himself.”
I’m not sure why, but that seemed to make sense.
It's a horrifically violent book. Do not read while eating. Most of it isn't gory, but there is one (long) scene that... You know, I have a strong stomach but I'm glad I didn't hit that part while I was eating lunch. For some reason, it was particularly gruesome.
Frank sighed as though bored and cut off his other ear as well. It fell to the floor soundlessly, like a slice of fishcake or something, and lay there among the loose strands of hair and cigarette ashes.
And that doesn't even get into the really icky parts. (Let's not discuss a man's face begin set on fire.) One disadvantage of particularly evocative writing style, I suppose?

But even before the real violence sets in, it's just such a weird book. There's something about the writing style - it really sucked me in even though I'm pretty sure I had a shocked-to-horrified expression on my face while reading 90% of this book.

On a larger scale, it touches on the issues of loneliness, the disconnect of younger generations (compared to post-WW2 folks; this isn't a teenagers-are-the-bane-of-our-society type book), cultural differences, who's to blame for society's issues... It's not exactly the most flattering towards Americans, but then it isn't exactly a glowing review of the Japanese either. Murakami is critical of everyone, apparently.
What’s good about Americans, if I can generalize a little, is that they have a kind of openhearted innocence. And what’s not so good is that they can’t imagine any world outside the States, or any value system different from their own. The Japanese have a similar defect, but Americans are even worse about trying to force others to do whatever they themselves believe to be right.
So yeah, this all probably really says nothing concrete about this book, but it's just weird. Did I like it? Yes, in a horrifying sort of way. The underlying issues were really interesting to think on and the actual plot was engaging in a rubbernecking-at-a-horrible-car-accident kind of way. I can't say I'd recommend it to anyone because if someone actually read it, they might think I had massive mental problems, but yeah, really fascinating read. I'm definitely going to have to read more Ryu Murakami books. Once I recover from this one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Things Have [Not] Happened

Okay, so I've fallen a bit off of the face of the earth the past few weeks. Mostly, I was sick. I ended up with a cold which I thought I got over really quickly until it came back a couple of days later. But now I'm finally over it and have been since this weekend. So yay!

Of course, two weeks being sick, you'd think I'd at least have some new knitting to share but not so much. I was so miserably sick that I didn't even have the oomph to knit. Now that I'm feeling better, though, I've started on pair number 29 for the year.

Dan Sock

This one is a pair for Dan, the lucky duck. I just started it last night and got in a good chunk of knitting it so I've gotten quite far. Of course, I haven't even started on the second sock yet so I have quite a ways to go. And hopefully these socks will be at least occasionally interrupted by my next project - a sweater for me! I've got to swatch and do a lot of math for that one though, so I've been putting it off because I'm lazy.

In other news, it actually snowed here a few nights ago. Just a light dusting, but still. Crazy. Especially in November! Shoot, we just turned our heat on about two weeks ago. But it turned cold quickly - one week after turning the heat on, we had to put the heated mattress pad on the bed. (Best. Thing. Ever. Seriously. Electric blanket fan? Get an electric mattress pad. It's so much better. I can wear my non-winter pajamas to bed comfortably even though we let the house get in the 60s at night.)

This week so far has been a catch up week. My house is still a mess (two weeks of not cleaning, bleck) but laundry is all caught up (in one day! My new washer/dryer set is fantastic and HOLDS SO MUCH) and now I'm working on getting actual food stocked in the fridge instead of just the ingredients for food. At some point, I'm going to make some applesauce, too, as we have a ton of apples. Gotta do something with them.

If the weather stays this cold all winter, I fully plan to knit and hibernate. Who knows how many pair of socks I'll get up to before the year is done!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

More Socks!

Pair number 21 for the year! This time, they are even taller - with calf shaping and everything!

Tall Socks
Tall Socks

The calf shaping was based on a template I made of my leg measurements. Because I am that ridiculous. It worked great thought! Perfectly fitted knee-highs!

Up next? Socks for Dan and a sweater for me!