It's not often that one can find an occasion to show off their brick layer/stone mason Smurf. It's just because of this that I feel compelled to bring you pix of this Smurf hard at work.
Our apt. complex has been doing some repair lately. First it was the new roofing. (It was amazing to watch these workers move from rooftop to rooftop; 10-15 workers per building, and done within a day and a half! Wow.) Now it's removing the old wood r.r. ties and replacing the support with stone walls. A definite improvement. They're also replacing the siding on the buildings and it's lookin' nice. (They haven't started on our building yet, but they're working this way.)
In these pics, you can see that my brick layer Smurf has been a great help with getting that stone wall up and set. The rain postponed it a few days, but it's nothin' a Smurf can't deal with.
and hopefully lovin', too.
I've started a new knitting project; a set of baby blankets for the twins. I'm still on the first part of the first one, so there's not much to show for my efforts yet. (But when has that stopped any blogger.) But I'm learning so much.
Come take a peek...
This is my first use of circular needles (or circs). They're taking a bit to get used to them, but I think that's also due to their size: US #11, 36".
I also learned a new cast on method. Typically, I usually cast on with the e-wrap or the long-tail methods(names picked up from my closest book, The Knit Stitch), but neither were going to do it for this project. First, my e-wrap is fairly loose and with this yarn, it would be downright ridiculous. As for the long-tail style, with 128 stitches, that's just a lot of yarn to be working with for cast on.
So instead I learned the crochet cast on (also from the Sally Melville book). You use a crochet hook to make the cast on/knit stitches and the finished product looks much like the bind off stitches. Sweet!
Specs on the project are: katia® diana yarn in colors #14 (shown) and #21 (a darker, denim blue for the other binky). The yarn was purchased at a LYS, Yarn and Stitches. I'm working two strands together on those humongous US #11 circs (36").
The real question is... Will I be able to complete both binkies and send them before the twins arrive? We'll find out. K says she's feeling fine and next week she's off of bed/couch rest and can go shopping (which she's really looking forward to). We're still hoping that the boys'll hold off until their 04/04/04 due date. The race is on!
I have procrastinated, and now I have way too many new PEZ to post. So bear with me. These have accumulated since Christmas. I have some cool and fancy Star Wars dispensers, cool stuff from my family and more.
Where to start? Nevermind, I figured it out. I am just going to kinda ramble for a while up here about the new stuff, where I got it, what I think of it, and stuff like that. The photos are below in no particular order (because I am really tired and lazy).
#1: Crystal Star Wars
PEZ came out with these last year, and they are pretty nice. I balked at the price ($25 per) and hoped that the price would come down. I managed to get the set for a bit less from craignymet on ebay. (good seller and friendly guy)
These dispensers are made from the same molds as the recent Star Wars set. The difference is that the heads on Darth Vader and Yoda are "crystal" plastic. C3-P0 received some sort of a chroming treatment.
Prognosis: These are cool. I don't feel cheated and angry. They look nice on the shelf with all of their PEZ friends. And, the lack of "feet" gives them a cool retro feel.
#2: Convention Snowman
The story is that there are a limited number of this piece available (2000 made). They were provided to various conventions by PEZ as a giveaway. The mold is for a standard snowman, but the use of ugly colors, glow-in-the-dark plastic and more make it something that you should probably see.
My better half thinks this dispenser is ugly. I agree. But, I also believe that sometimes an item can be so ugly that it becomes beautiful. Unfortunately, this is not one of those pieces. But I like the crystals and the glow in the dark. I bought this online, and probably paid too much. Such is life.
Prognosis: an ugly, shame-based purchase. Don't judge me.
#3: Free Pez
Our friend, Aaron brought by some PEZ from the holidays. He brought a reindeer, a polar bear and Speedy Gonzales. I imagine that he ripped them from the grasp of nieces and nephews and made them cry. Ahh, Christmas...
Prognosis: Did you not see that they were free? you know, gratis nada zip zero? That's always cool!
#4: Crystal Tweety and Cubs Charlie Brown
These two are also from craignymet. The Tweety was a special release in Europe with the release of the Looney Tunes: Back in Action flick. For some reason, I thought that it was important for me to have this, but I don't remember why. I think that I paid 15-ish for Tweety. The Charlie Brown is an okay piece, given out at a Chicago Cubs game a few years ago. He was cheap, and I have no other reason for buying him.
Prognosis: I didn't have them, now I do. They were both pretty cheap, and both were created in limited numbers.
#5: Easter PEZ
Nanc and I spent a fair amount of time looking for this new American issued series. We finally found them at Walgreen's and boy, are they something! Look at the picture below (with comedy genius Tina Fey). Have you seen anything so hideous? (The PEZ, not Tina.) I am honestly afraid that these dispensers will come to life and kill me. This may seem like an irrelevant fear until you look at the photo.
Prognosis: Please don't kill me, evil egg man!
#6: Euro Sourz
These came from Myke and Jimmy (okay, just Jimmy) when he was recently in Europe. The packaging has changed for European issues, and the artwork is pretty cool. He also included a package of refills, which I will most likely break open and eat.
PEZ candy, an aside:
PEZ is actually two different companies, PEZ, Inc. in the U.S., and a European PEZ company. They are totally separate entities. They release different dispensers, and different candy. Truth is, the American candy tastes bad, like household cleaners. The European candy tastes much better, and there are a wider variety of flavors.
Prognosis: free, didn't have the packaging... and tasty candy.
#7: Heart PEZ
I have several of these, but when I saw this Valentine's Heart PEZ at Target, I knew that I would have to buy it. Half of the heart is actually missing. (insert your half-hearted joke here.) This is really a testimony to quality control. Yep, It left the factory like this. And then somebody stocked it on a shelf.
Every four years, there is an extra day, February 29. It's kinda like a bonus. Woo!
When is the last time that you've had a truly free day? A day out of the blue, just tacked on to the end of February? -My guess is that it's been about four years.
I don't know why I haven't thought about this before. I remember being at the bar during Daylight Saving time and partying extra hard, because we "gained an hour." This is way more than an hour, this is a full 24 of 'em... in a row. And, unlike Daylight Saving, nobody is going to steal it back (spring ahead). Yes folks, February 29 is absolutely free-no strings attached.
I am still trying to figure out what I am going to do on Sunday. The obvious choice would be to do something that involves jumping (or leaping, if you will), but I am not obvious (and I'm lazy... jumping sounds like a lot of work).
You should think of something different to do as well. If you read this after the fact, don't feel too bad that you frittered away a free day. Remember there will be another one soon.
The true title of this recipe is 'Chicken, Date, and Apricot Tagine', but that all sounded so complicated and bewildering. And you should try this recipe, not run from it's name. This chicken is oh-so tasty and tender, the kitchen will smell miraculous, and it's fun and new. What more could you want from a recipe? [please note the rhetoricalness of that question]
This is definitely one of those recipes where you should gather and prepare all the ingredients before you start cooking. And don't leave out lemon - it really puts the zing in the dish. I didn't have ground turmeric, so I subbed with curry powder which had all the spices listed plus some. (I still added the other spices in qtys listed, but I could've used only curry powder I'm sure.) My only change that I'd wish on this dish is for the flavors to match the aromas. The chicken was very mild tasting (which isn't all bad).
Well, go ahead. What are you waiting for? Cook this!
Cooking Light; March 2004
When I look for new recipes, it's usually for entrees or deserts. I tend to glance past the side dishes and salads. And it's not that I have a large assortment of vegetable and sides that prepare. In fact, usually I'm stuck in the same-old/same-old rut. So I'm trying some sides this time.
I made this first one last night for dinner with steak and it was good. It's a traditionally Greek dish and that shows in the bright flavors that 'pop'. It makes 8 servings, which was a little much for just Bonez and I, but tasted great as a filler in my lunch wrap today.
Wilted Greens with Rice
Cooking Light; March 2004
Yay, it's done. I've finished my brother's Christmas gift... before St. Patrick's day. Okay, so my original goal was to finish and send it before Christmas, but ya' know how these things happen. (And if you don't, read here.) But from what I understand, it's still cool in Cincinnati, so I'm still good. Besides, there'll be another winter soon enough.
For the fact sheet, I used Lion Brand® Wool-Ease in Wheat on size US#8 needles. I learned a new technique using a bit of crochet to hold stitches and worked the first tail to the end, and then picked up the stitches off the crochet bit. There are 14" of the checkerboard pattern, then about 14" of ribbing which keeps the scarf cozy about the neck, and then another 14" of the pattern again. It's not a scarf to tie around your head, but to keep your neck warm and then dangle attractively for all to admire.
Click 'read more' for bonus photos of the "Matt" Seaman's Scarf.
Here are some gratuitous guitar photos. If the color looks off, it's because I tried to tweek the photos. Either the flash was too bright and washed out the pattern or the color was too dark/shaddowed and made it look muddy.
I just wanted to give a quick "shout out" to two hats I knitted up on my round loom.
The black and white hat is mine. I wear it for the early morning walks when it's too darn cold. (I haven't worn it this week at all, yeah.) I used Lion Brand® Jiffy Thick & Quick in Smokey Mountains colorway. Because it's so thick, only one strand is needed and I worked in single wrap method on the loom.
The blue and cream stripped hat was knit for charity. It'll go to one of the monthly charities on AC4C. I used LB Wool-Ease in Seaspray and LB Fisherman's Wool for the stripes. It's double-knit on the loom (one wrap pulled over two on the pegs) and I tried ribbing (k2/p1) for the first 3" on the hat.
This turned out a bit strange. It's much looser than the rest of the stitches (which makes me think I did it wrong) and I had to tighten it up some before sewing the ends in. The finished look is a bit of a flair, which I think a young girl would like.
Or more appropriate, Mike's Christmas scarf.
Last I wrote about this, I couldn't decide which of the two cable-knit scarves I would keep working on for my brother. This was *supposed* to be a Secret Santa gift for him... um, this year. But the fates were against it.
Well, I started a different scarf instead. I'm using the Lions Brand® Wool-Ease and making the Matt Seaman's Scarf. (Which, despite Matty's thinking, does not belong to him because of naming rights.)
I've worked the first tail and am about to start the neck ribbing. I really like how nice, yet understated this pattern looks.
Or would it be "garment Smurfer"? "Fashion Desmurfer"? Oh, who knows. But this sewing Smurf is ready to reattach buttons, hem pants, and create Smurfabulous couture.
It doesn't snow much in Texas. When it does, it merits a couple of pictures.
The snow started falling about 3 a.m. on Valentine's Day. Nanc and I got up and enjoyed the snow. Both of us are Northerners and miss seeing snow.
To see a larger version of an image, click on the thumbnail.
a couple of pix of Dil attacking the evil snow, a jack-in-the-box antenna topper and a snow tree.
later that day...
Later that morning, Nanc took some more pictures and some video. Meanwhile back at home, the coolest cartoon on Saturday Mornings, Fillmore, was preempted by snow emergency coverage. grrr...
If you need to see the snow move, here are some small videos that nan took. You probably want to have a higher-speed connection to view these movie #1: Mary Kay corporate office getting snowed on (488k) and movie #2: Snow in the park (over 2 MB)
the day after
By Sunday, temperatures were in the 50's and the snow went away.
There are probably tons of claims to that title. Much like there are tons of kinds of chili; Texas (meat), black bean, red bean, Cincinnati-style, white (chicken), etc. The list goes on and on. I like a variety of chili, but White Chicken Chili is THE BEST, hands down.
It's a dish that nearly everyone in my family makes and enjoys. All of my friends* have tasted it and raved reviews. And to note that it's low in fat, well that just beats all! Try a bowl for yourself and let me know what you think.
* Okay. So it's "friends that have come to dinner when I've prepared white chicken chili." Sheesh - do ya' gotta be so detailed?
White Chicken Chili
from my Aunt Mookie (via So Fat, Low Fat, No Fat cookbook)
To serve, place crushed tortilla chips and 1 Tbs. shredded cheese in soup bowls. Ladle chili over and top with salsa, sour cream, and avocado.
I still have more fleece to use, but I'm that much closer. In fact, I've cut a lot more items out, but have wrenched my back during a marathon sewing session and am taking a break from my Singer. This may mean that my fleece deadline could be extended until... I can sit comfortably at the sewing machine.
But I'm happy with what I got done so far. There's pics if you click 'read more'.
As promised, some pictures of what I sent to Bundles of Love in MN. I was able to get 17 newborn-size jackets done in a super-easy pattern. Fleece is nice for this, because you don't have to line the jacket. Each jacket has matching, fun buttons. No two jackets have the same buttons. (Similar perhaps, but not the same.)
I also made up a bunch of no-sole booties and mittens. These work up really quick and are great to use up scraps of fabric. Some jackets have matching booties and mitts, others don't. A good portion of what I still have left to sew are mittens and booties. Some other charity will get to benefit, I guess.
And last, but not least - hats. These were a bit disappointing 'cause the pattern was for newborn-size hats. Instead, they came out as 4-5 lb. preemie-size. That's fine and great - they'll still use them. It's just that they won't go with the jackets, mitts, and booties to make sets.
All in all, a good show of it, I think. Here's some more details of some jackets:
I'm usually not a huge fan of leftovers. I rarely take the extra portions from restaurants, and if I do I usually throw them away within a few days. Home-cooked leftovers retain their original form (unless they can be made into a burrito of sorts) until I'm tired of reheating my history. Cooking - that I can do, but reanimating a meal into a fantastic new beast? Nope.
So that's why I was surprised at both myself and the latest two leftover dishes that I've made.
Is that beef roast (or stew) leaving you cold? Did the holiday ham overstay it's welcome? If these meats are still good [read: not green, slimy, or mush], I've found a way to make them new and tasty... again.
The remaining bit of leftover ham had been taunting me all week. We had used up portions in all of the normal places, like omletes and fried up in the skillet. But still, there it waited for something - a sign, some movement that I might make. What did it want of me?!
My quest took me to AllRecipes.com to make use of their 'ingredient search' feature. From here, I found a quick and easy (and yummy) way to use up that ham. Ha! That'll show 'em.
Although the name "explains" this dish, it doesn't really do a good job of describing it. (Where's marketing when you need them.) This recipe is simple to do, works up pretty quickly, and looks fabulous, därling! It would be perfect to take to a pot luck luncheon or dinner party. So come on, check it out!
Ham Broccoli Braid
After making this once, you'll start thinking about other foodstuff to make like this. Beef Wellington-esq; Mexican-inspired turnovers; deserts. It's inspirational!
Always thought that Shepherd's Pie would be too much work, too starchy, bland, or Irish? Well, this might change your mind.
There I was stuck with leftover beef roast (slow cooker) with carrots and onions. (Too bad I didn't save any of the jus, 'cause it would've come in handy.) I know that I didn't want a plate of roast and veggies again, but I didn't know what I could do with it and I didn't want to waste it. Along comes my superhero Google search engine, seeking out sites dedicated to leftover ideas and doling out justice. I stumbled upon a seemingly okay idea of making Shepherd's Pie from my ignored beef.
And to my surprise, it was good. (Yeah, it made it's own reincarnation of leftovers, but we worked through it.) From now on, I will plan this second life for my beef roasts.
There are no measurements listed because it really depends on how much leftovers you have.
Because this dish can be a *little* bland, add some horseradish to the potatoes or in with the meat & veggies to spice things up.
Sometimes, I am a boob. (Like as a goofball or a dork, not a mammary gland.)
I have made some über cüt magnets and packaged them in equally cüt tins (from The Container Store). The recipients' name or an apropriate quip spelled out in stickers was affixed to the lid, side, or under-the-lid of the tin. These were are fun and clever and simple to make. They are going out in the mail today.
I, however, forgot to take pix of any of it. [grumble, grumble- my own stupidity, grumble]
These are tasty-good yum-yum. I highly recommend them for most any- and everything. I'm currently eating on the Sundried Tomato Basil variety, but am anxious to taste the Garden Spinach Herb.
I've always been a little put-off of the sandwich wraps, especially in the bland flour tortillas. These, however, give that extra bit of boost that was needed to reach tasty-good heights.
In a similar, but failed vein: French's® GourMayo does nothing for me. Perhaps I picked the blandest of the bunch, Sun Dried Tomato, but I got no "zing" of taste excitement. More like, ugh - taste like mayo. I may try the Wasabi Horseradish if they ever come out with a small sampler or single-serving package.
Tip: Don't use mayo on the wraps, it's too... blah. A little bit o' honey mustard is the way to go.
My tribute to the Super Bowl. (Yeah, it's on right now. No, I'm not watching it. Don't even get me started.)
Here you've got the quarterback, the ref, cheerleaders, and a whole slew of Smurfy fans! What's that? Gargamel seems to be taking notes. Perhaps he's copying their plays and runs?
Looks like the coach didn't agree with the ref's call. Oooh. Tempers flare at these sporting events.
Click on more to get a glimpse into a Smurf Bowl party.
Oh. Well, it looks like you caught them during the half-time show. Hmmm. Doesn't look too exciting - it's always about the commercials anywho.
Boy those Smurfs do look like they're having fun; eating, drinking and being merry! Those are some good times.
Well, no matter if your team won or lost (or never came close to winning any games this season), here's wishing you all a Smurfy day!
As I've stated, I'm working to clear my house of my fabric stash, starting with the overloads of fleece. Well, I've been able to make some progress by whipping up hats for Ship Support.
Take a look.
There are 30 double-sided and 25 single-sided fleece hats on this bookshelf. The double-sided hats (top shelf) consist of a patterned side and a solid, complimentary-color side. They are not meant to have a roll-up brim, but I arranged some to show the colors.
The single-sided hats (lower shelf) are pretty straight forward. Most are patterned, but about 13 are simple, black hats as a special request from a deployed unit.
These will be going out in the mail this week. Time to work on the kids fleece. No rest for the wicked. ; )
True to her word, Ang gave me some more cotton yarn in new (to me) and exciting colors. This will allow me to keep on making washcloths without purchasing any more yarn!
Can't you just feel the excitement? It's nearly tangible; this great energy rush all for a washcloth. (Well, at least the sarcasm is tangible.)
Washcloth numero tres.
Knitted in what I believe is Lion Brand® Kitchen Cotton in Cornmeal 257 colorway. The pattern I used was a scarf pattern in my Learn to Knit book. I just made it square, instead of continuing to make a long, skinny rectangle (aka 'scarf'). It was a basic garter stitch with some offset yarn-overs that make a pattern.
Pretty simple. Pretty boring. Not all of life can be fun fur and lucious yarns.