Sunday, December 13, 2015

Roosevelt Cardigan

So I finished my sweater challenge...on December 4th.  I totally could have finished it on time if I hadn't signed up for the hospital craft show.  I'd always been interested in it but never knew about it in time to have any inventory ready.  I took the entire contents of my Etsy shop and devoted a few precious November knitting days making bath bombs and knitting stocking caps and dish cloths.  I even delayed putting up my Christmas tree until today to try and make all my deadlines!
I finished the sweater but made an executive decision I now regret:  I didn't pick up all the stitches called for in the pattern around the neck and button band because I thought it would be too crowded and now wish I had.  If I hadn't been so pressed for time, I probably wouldn't have done that.  I always tell people to never bake bread in a hurry and I guess the same goes for knitting sweaters!  I love it for wearing around the house but I guess I won't be entering this one in the fair any time soon.
I hadn't sewn the buttons on yet for the picture because again I was in a hurry and we were losing the 1530 in the afternoon.  Soon the days will start getting longer again.
I tried posing with Lopi for some pictures but she wasn't too cooperative.  She is always so cute though!
Here are my buttons!  I bought these in Iceland from Pall and Rita.  They're cut and polished from antlers and I got 5 others made from bone.  I've kicked myself ever since I bought them because I should have gotten more than 5 each.  This sweater was perfect because it needs only 5 to close the lower 2/3.  Hopefully some day soon I'll make the trip back.

Monday, November 09, 2015

NaKniSweMo 2015

I am frantically knitting on my National Knit A Sweater In A Month challenge despite yet again being off to a late start.  So far I have a sleeve and 1/3 done.  I've recently started receiving DVD's in the mail again from Netflix.  I've always had the service available, but it took me almost 3 years to send back the discs I had because there was so much on Instant Netflix to keep me busy.  I'm hooked on the FX series Fargo.  I have series 2 on my DVR and I have one more disc of season 1 to get through.  Great show and I'm weirdly proud to be a Minnesotan while watching it.  I also love love love the poster for the series made in knitwear!  And in the spirit of Minnesota, my brother and his family are coming down tomorrow and we're all going to the Minnesota Wild hockey game downtown!  Weeeeeeeeee!  I think I'm going to have to re-watch the series on the treadmill because I do think I'm missing a few details here and there looking down at my knitting.  It is such a good show that I won't be upset to watch it again.

Silver Service

On our last outing to Saver's, I picked up this beautiful silver tray for $8!  It was tarnished but not pitted and had a few light scratches but overall, it was in very good shape.  I polished it up and am so pleased with it.  My mother has one just like this and I saw it every day gleaming in her china cabinet.  She also has a full silver coffee service set that would come out at Christmas and luncheons and receptions.  They were wedding gifts and she can tell you who got her each piece.  When I was a kid, it was my regular task to polish the silver and now that job falls to my nieces.  I can't get this into my hutch so I will have to find a home for it.  It is so pretty that I wouldn't mind it sitting out on the hutch counter where I can see it every day.
And yes, I'm a nerd and had to put my teapot and some Polish pottery on it.  I got the teacups and saucers in Poland, the sugar bowl is from ebay, the cobalt creamer was made by a potter in York, the teapot came from and the Polish creamer was acquired in Iceland.  Quite an international tea service!  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have a dorky tea party with myself!  I loved the movie Saving Mr. Banks and one of my favorite movie lines ever came from that film:  Tea is like balm for the soul.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Temperate Fall

We've enjoyed a beautiful and warm fall so far.  Today was another sunny day in the mid sixties.  Hard to believe it is November.  Here are some of the fall colors across our pond.  Those birch trees make me think of Dr. Zhivago.
We had maybe a dozen or so trick or treaters on Saturday.  Our front door is shown here in all it's Halloween glory.
My parents were here visiting this weekend.  Saturday we went and saw Bridge Of Spies (it was excellent!) and then did some thrifting at Saver's.  Dave reminded us that it was almost 5:00 and we needed to get home and get ready for Halloween.  He had hollowed out our pumpkin the night before and I carved it in record time.
I did some unorthodox knitting this weekend.  That is putting it mildly!  I'd been wanting to knit this for some time and what better time to own a viking hat and beard than Halloween?  The beard was made from yarn leftover from my nephew's vest and the hat used up some novelty yarn I had sitting in the stash.  Dad agreed that he could pass for a dwarf or a viking in this.  I think Dad already looks like John Rhys-Davies
My dad generously modeled and wore the hat for me while I attached the horns to make sure they were even.  Unfortunately, I never wore  it to answer the door for trick or treaters.  My parents and I had just sat down to eat at around 7 when the rush hour hit and I had to keep getting up for the door.
All this beard knitting got in the way of my Socktober knitting and I didn't finish my socks on time.  I started knitting these a week ago when I realized it was indeed Socktober.  Currently I am halfway through the first sleeve of my National Knit A Sweater In A Month Challenge so I will have to finish these here and there when I have the time but not the cumbersome sweater project in tow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Stash Slimming

What you are looking at is my impromptu quilting area downstairs.  It is the larger of the two downstairs bedrooms and the only floor space large enough to lay out and assemble blankets.  The room has an added bonus of a door, so I can shut the dogs out when they decide they want to come and lay on my work!
I set my ironing board up in the downstairs hallway and my sewing machine on the table in the family room.  I got quite a lot of sewing done over the weekend and was happy about that.  Those dogs never cease to amuse me.  I was working on my first wretched seam of a jelly roll quilt and Zak was under the table.  He didn't seem to mind as all the fabric spilled off the back of the table and onto him.  His other trick is to lay on my pile of strips as I'm trying to feed them into the machine. 
I am happy to be the proud owner of two new blankets because the weather is getting colder and winter is the season for company.  This quilt was was pieced using up all the winter themed fabrics I'd collected over the years and backed with a cut of pale blue/gray batik purchased at SR Harris.  Everything I sewed this weekend was stuff I already had.  I used up 2 battings, about 15 yards of fabric and remnant spools of thread.
This quilt was a departure from all the other ones I've made.  It is certainly the most frilly and frou frou!  I had been collecting all these "shabby chic" floral prints for the colors because most of them are on blue backgrounds.  It is backed using a bed sheet my sister found for me at Saver's.  My grandma Joann made me a blanket for my bed out of the exact same fabric and I treasured it, more so after she passed away.  It was so worn out and the batting was totally gone in places.  If you held it up to the light, you could see through it, that's how worn out it was.  I painfully threw it away in the final frantic hours of packing to move to Minnesota and now I feel like I have a replacement for it.  Dave joked that he was a little scared to sleep with this blanket on the bed because it might reduce his sperm count.
The air is cool and crisp and it actually froze over the weekend.  I am proud to say we have not had the furnace on once yet this year but I did hang up the downstairs hall curtain.  We have electric baseboard heaters in the family room and this curtain confines the warm air to that room.  It is just a shower curtain rod with a length of fabric hung over it.  I actually hemmed it and made a casing for the rod whereas last year it was un-hemmed and safety pinned over the rod!
Dave's mother had knee replacement surgery and came home from the hospital on Friday.  We picked up her prescriptions and took supper over to his parents that night and on the way home, we stopped at the church jumble sale at St. Peter's.  I got a a Christmas ornament and centerpiece and Dave found this for $5!  He was so excited about it and insists that this go in the yard on Halloween so the trick or treaters see it.  What a nerd!  And of course the dogs are afraid of it.
Speaking of Halloween, I hung up the lights and the fake jack o lantern in the front window.  Once I saw it lit, I was horrified at how dirty my window is!  I will wash it after I take the decorations down.
This is my new favorite lunch!  Toast with mashed avocado, salt and pepper and topped with a poached egg.  Num NUM.  Today I've been doing laundry and cleaning and putzing around the house, but soon I will start cutting strips for a third quilt because I have one more batting to use up.  There has been some serious de-stashing around here of late!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Apples and Asphalt

Ok well maybe not asphalt but Dave and I seal coated our driveway 2 weekends ago.  We were at his parents' house the weekend before and his uber handy sister showed up with the supplies and equipment to treat his parents' driveway.  Most of the houses in our neighborhood have had their drives professionally done and of course it looks so sharp when it's done but I always worried about the cost and was afraid to tackle the project ourselves.  Theresa is absolutely fearless and had researched the project and watched YouTube videos and put us to work.  I kept telling Dave, "We can totally DO THIS!"
Here is our "before" picture on the sunny warm fall day we tackled our drive.  I used a Cool Whip bowl and a wide paint brush to pour and spread the seal around the edges and Dave used the squeegee mop to fill in the rest.  We have a wide and odd shaped drive because the sidewalk was poured and stopped 1/3 of the way down the lawn.  I think we could have just sealed over the sidewalk to make it easier on the eyes but that's just me.  There were 3 different sections of driveway too so the sealant really tied everything together.
We must have gone back to Menards six times that afternoon to get more and more sealant.  The drive was really rough and textured blacktop so the sealant just filled in all the gaps.  At the widest point, we were lucky to finish five feet of drive per 5 gallon bucket.
It looks so nice though and was worth every penny.  You can see where we slupsed onto the sidewalk there but oh well.  I really feel like we are keeping up with the Jones' now!
As for the apple portion of this post, it is fall and apples are in abundance.  Melissa has told me forever to get an Apple Master for peeling/slicing/coring and I finally broke down and got one.  I don't know what I was waiting for because it is AWESOME.  I picked mine up at Fleet Farm for $14.95.  While I was there, I was tickled pink to see all the lefse equipment on prominent display!  Those grills are manufactured in Cresco, IA.  Yay Iowa!  :)
Here is my Apple Master in action!  What did I ever do without this?  I drilled through BAGS of apples in just minutes.  My mother in law sent over 2 bags of Macintosh apples for sauce and this made quick work of them.
I love the thickness of the slices too because they are uniform and perfect for pies.
The Macintosh apples were cooked down, strained and canned into applesauce.
I used this Ball recipe and was very happy with the results.  The flavor, sweetness and color were all blue ribbon in my opinion.  It looked and tasted just like store-bought Musselman's applesauce and we will enjoy this through the winter.  Last year I had a terrible time sealing my applesauce because I'd made the sauce but processed it the next day and started with cold sauce.  This year I kept the sauce hot and canned it right away and had no trouble.
My brother came to stay with us for a few days while he is working here in town.  I cooked another roast chicken dinner but this time with an apple pie for dessert.  I love cooking big meals like that because then there are all kinds of leftovers and everyone is happy to fix their own plates the rest of the week!  See?  I'm always thinking!  ;)  I had some leftover pastry and some leftover honey crisp apple filling and threw together a rustic apple tart for my in-laws.  I delivered it to them and we sat and visited in their fragrant rose garden so it was a lovely afternoon.  My mother in law is having knee replacement surgery next week so this will fortify her for the coming procedure.  She called me later that evening and told me I could bring her an apple tart any time I wanted!
Finally, here is a picture of my brother carving the bird with Lopi looking on.  She was naughty the next day and got into the garbage and ate some chicken bones.  Of course I panicked but she is OK and has had 2 normal poops since then. 

I am loving my new job and the flexibility of my new hours.  I am scheduled only 3 days a week with some on-call here and there, no regular weekends or holidays and I can sign up for all the extra hours I want.  I love being able to be home and I'll be available to fuss over my mother in law next week.  I signed up for an on call shift last night and never got called in so I got to stay home and be paid to knit all night.  I'll post pictures of my sweater progress soon.  I'm also working on some fingering weight gloves.  It occurred to me today that it is Socktober so I'd better get busy and knit a pair of socks and next month is NanKniSweMo so I'd better be finding a project!

Tonight is the first game of The Minnesota Wild which is another sure sign of fall.  So far we've been blessed with beautiful foliage and mild temperatures.  I love this time of year because we haven't had the air on for weeks and we have yet to use the furnace.  I like to challenge myself to see how low I can get that utility bill!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dave's mother lamented to me that they had all kinds of tomatoes on the vine...but they were all green and firm as all get out.  I jumped at the opportunity for fried green tomatoes.  Here is a picture of the lovely unripened heirloom tomatoes I picked.
I know I've written about fried green tomatoes before, but I'd never fried heirloom tomatoes and I thought they were so pretty once I sliced them.  I ate very well last night.  I always season each side of the tomatoes with Kusina Gold, dredge them in flour, dip them in beaten egg, and then dredge them in cornmeal.  Num num.
I have to feel like I cheated Joann Fabrics.  They had a 60% off coupon for any regular priced item.  I did our household's needed items shopping at Target and then headed over to do the grocery shopping.  I had to go to the bathroom really bad so I stopped in at Joann's but I also had that coupon burning a hole in my pocket so I wandered around to see what I could see.  I found this Takumi knitting needle set and it wasn't on sale.  It cost $170.  With my coupon it would cost $68.  I ran for the checkout and got a great deal!  The coupons stipulate that you can't use them for irons, sewing machines, scissors, Cricut machines, etc.  I wonder how long before they say you can't use them for this needle set.  My cashier even told me that I was the highest saver she'd had that day!

Home Adornment

I've slowly been working on this foreclosure house to make it into a home.  We did a lot of painting in the downstairs this spring and I'm hoping we can do the same in the upstairs living areas this fall.  I'm daunted by the area over the stairs but I think we'll be able to tackle it with the right equipment.  In the meantime, Mother encouraged me to frame one of the prints I bought in St. Petersburg years ago.  This is Bargemen On the Volga by Ilya Repin.  I just loved the picture and the colors.  All the men are so dark, pathetic, dirty and ragged but there is a blonde light colored boy in the center of the composition.  I was just sure there was a story behind the painting but all my research says it is just a bunch of men pulling a barge on the Volga.  Alrighty then!  I have to put a punt in for Joann's because I got the frame on sale with a coupon and then got the custom matte with a coupon.  You can get coupon mailers or have coupons sent directly to your Smartphone.  Between using those and waiting for sales, you can do a lot at Joann's!
This is the deco in the downstairs bathroom that I painted this spring.  I got this $80 shelf for $20 after it went on clearance and I used a 20% off coupon at Joann's.  This hangs over the toilet.  I had a French savon metal sign that I hung up on one wall and then put all my Frenchy souvenir nic nacs on the shelf so now I have an official French powder room!  Here it is decked out for Halloween.
I shouldn't call this an adornment but in a way it is.  This is the door frame out to the garage.  We painted the entryway, the hallway and the family room this 'gadget gray' color in the spring and now that we had a finished wall, I could finally hang my mezuzah.  It is a holder for a traditional Jewish prayer and house blessing (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21).  I am Lutheran but if you believe in the Old Testament, you share heritage with Judaism.  I had mezuzah's in my old apartment, but I forgot to take them with me.  I literally sat up in bed one night shortly after I'd moved to Minnesota when I realized I'd forgotten them.  Not only were they mezuzahs, but they were souvenirs from trips I'd taken.  I was just sick about it.  I am happy this one will be in place for years to come.  I have another beautiful brass one I got in Poland and I'm very excited to hang it next to my front door once we get it painted.  Every room other than bathrooms should have one but I will need to amass a lot more before I can do that.  I really like the idea of remembering a thankful prayer every time I leave the house to get into my car. 


I spent most of Friday knitting in the waiting room of Ray's Maplewood Auto Service having 4 tires replaced and aligned and new brakes and master cylinder replaced.  It needed doing (because I just paid the car off--go figure!) and I'd been putting it off.  I found this garage in early summer and was immediately impressed with them.  The gal at the front desk obviously has mechanic experience in addition to great people skills.  I think what impressed me so much was that they sit down and EXPLAIN things to you about what is going on with your car and repair options and prices.  They do what I do with my patients in the hospital and I find you get a much better response when you know WHY things are the way they were.  Ever since, I bring my business and my knitting for any car repairs.  I thought their sign was pretty funny that day!

I finished up the second attempt of my jacket front side in their waiting room.  It is a Drops pattern.  They are a fabulous company with an entire library of free patterns...but they waste no verbiage in their patterns.  The instructions for the front side piece is one small paragraph that sounds like, "Cast on this many stitches, then every other row, increase this many stitches on the marked stitch.  At the same time, every 8th row increase this many on the right side and do this 4 times every 6th row, then 3 times every 4, and then twice every other..."  I have to write it all out and keep track of my rows and make tally marks for each thing I'm supposed to do.  Long story short...
...I was writing out my instructions for the other jacket front...and realized I'd screwed up AGAIN on the first jacket front!  I'd done my outer side increases every 4 rows instead of every 8.  In the piece on the right of the picture, you can see where the jacket widens and then is knit straight to the bottom edge.  It should have been a longer more gradual widening.  I could have done the same increases on the back pieces to make the jacket meet up, but I opted to start over yet again so the jacket doesn't have such a swoopy  increase at the hips.  The piece on the left of the picture is the THIRD attempt of the jacket side front with the more gradual increase.  I read a list of knitting tips and advice years ago and I've learned this to be true from personal experience:  If you find a mistake, always go back and rip it out and redo it as soon as you're aware of it.  If you don't, you will regret it more and more the further your work progresses.  This is so very true.  Take three....
I know it is fall and the official fragrance and flavor is pumpkin spice.  I kind of beg to differ.  I say if you want your house to smell awesome...just boil a chicken carcass!  Dave's birthday was this week and I cooked him a full roasted chicken dinner on Friday complete with a yellow cake with chocolate frosting as requested.  I love that his birthday is in early fall so I still have plenty of fresh herbs to work with.  The bird was rubbed with butter, rosemary and sage and roasted on a bed of onions, carrots and celery which all pave the way for a flavorful chicken stock!  So the stock is developing on the stove as we speak and the house smells great!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

I done messed up!

I've been hammering away at my blue striped jacket.  The piece on the right is the first piece I started knitting.  The more I worked on it, the more I thought it wasn't right but I soldiered on anyway.  It seemed to be too wide and not long enough.  I got to the end of the increases and my stitches didn't count out the way they should so I put the piece on a holder and started the other front side piece. 
This jacket is knit in garter stitch and shaped with a mitered corner so the left and right front pieces are in fact the same thing.  As soon as I started working on Take Two, I realized that I'd started the first piece backwards from the get go.  The piece pictured on the left is the evolving new side, while the one on the right is the mistake piece.  They are laid out in what should be mirror images of each other, so you can see how much I screwed it up!  I'm slowly unraveling and cannibalizing the mistake piece and knitting it up into the new piece.
Here is a picture of my fabulous new IKEA sewing room shelf!  The shelves are very deep and I was able to cram all manner of things in there.  I'm still monkeying around with how I want it.  I love that it is tall with space on top so I can use the entire space on that wall.
My sister sent me this beautiful garlic that they GREW in their garden.  The bulbs are so colorful with firm plump cloves.  My garlic press is getting a work-out because I've been putting it in everything lately.  Anything we can't eat up relatively soon I will pickle.  Num num garlic!  She said I could plant it too.
Speaking of is my darling new vinyl tablecloth.  I'm a little overprotective of my wooden dining table and try to have something protective on it at all times.  This design is what I'd call 'whimsical' but I just love it with all the canning that happens here late summer.  They are nice fall colors too and goes nicely with some of the fall decorations I put out today!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Great Minnesota Get-Together

We survived the state fair twice this year.  Last Saturday was 78 degrees and fabulous fair weather.  This Saturday was 88 degrees with 83% humidity.  It was awful.  The second time we went with my parents and Freya and John but we'd already seen and eaten most of what we were interested in on the first trip.
 I got these 2 skeins of yarn and some roving from the Minnesota wool producers the first time around.  I stop by their booth every year and always find something. 
 I hadn't used my spinning wheel since we lived in the apartment.  I spun and plied the roving single with a single spun from a gray wool/mohair blend I got from the now defunct Austin's Mohair Farm.
 I got about 370 yards of a worsted weight yarn.  I have no idea what I'm going to use it for but I am very happy with how it turned out.  Love those blues!
 Speaking of yarn, we saw this yarn bomb at the state fair!
 My parents were here this weekend and I always DVR episodes of New Scandinavian Cooking on tpt for them.  Andreas Viestad is our favorite host.  I love watching the show but they cook a lot of seafood which I don't have much experience with.  I was inspired to cook some Minnesota walleye from my freezer that Dave caught.  Unlike Andreas, I cooked this on our deck on a real grill and not an improvised outdoor setting like he does.  Seriously, check out the show.  You will yearn for Norge.  We stopped at the tpt booth at the fair and America's Test Kitchen was airing while we were there.  I'll proudly admit that I think Minnesota public tv is better than Iowa public tv and I luuuurrrrvvvved IPTV when I still lived there.
 I salted and peppered the fish, threw on some dill sprigs and sliced lemon and then folded it up inside parchment paper.  The packages went on the indirect heat side of the grill for 10 minutes and it was dee-LISH.  It was so flaky and not at all dry.  I will be making this again and I didn't even have to heat up the house.
 I used my dill earlier to make open faced sandwiches with mayonnaise and shrimp on home baked bread--also inspired by Herr Viestad.  I ate this with my cousins in Kvitsoy years ago.  Num num!  Can you see in these last two pictures why Scandinavian food is known as "white food"?  Very pale but tasty food.
 I got a huge IKEA shelf for my sewing room which replaced this little white shelf.  Dad moved it downstairs to my laundry/store room so I can put all my canning on it.  I just LOVE it!!  I can see and reach everything easily and now I have somewhere to put all the jars as we empty them out this winter.  I think I'm done canning vegetables for now.  I want to do applesauce again this year but they won't be ripe for another few weeks.

We had a whole week of hot humid awful weather and it is supposed to start cooling off.  I reluctantly let Dave turn off the A/C today and I know there's plenty of people who would tar and feather me for saying this...but I can't wait for cooler weather.  Now that fair season is over, I can knit whatever I want and even get busy in my sewing room.