Friday, November 25, 2011

I Wasn't Going To Do It

I'm not a big fan of Black Friday. In fact, I tend to avoid going anywhere the day after Thanksgiving.

I've mocked it.

I've lamented it.

I've railed against it.

I was all set to do the same this year.

And then I looked at the ads.

So, I went shopping, and now have my Christmas shopping (except for stocking stuffers) done.  Plus, I was able to get lots of sewing and crafty goodness at unbeatable prices.

Maybe this day isn't so horrible after all.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

They're B-a-a-a-ck

The desert in winter is full of wonderful things.  Like these:

Since my neighborhood abuts a farm on two sides, and I live very near one of the boundaries, I get to see and hear them from my home.

Now if only I knew the farmers, and when they did their shearing.

I especially like the silver colored fleece of the sheep that is trying to hide in this pic. Do you see him?  Near the bottom edge on the right side?

I love sheep! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Cups

Jay asked me to make him something sweet to eat a couple of days ago.  So, today I did.

Peanut Butter Cups
2 cups peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 package graham crackers
1 stick butter
2 - 12 oz. packages milk chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortening
mini baking cups

Break the graham crackers into a gallon size plastic zip bag, then crush with a rolling pin until finely crumbled.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, put the butter

and the peanut butter.

 Cover loosely with a paper towel, and microwave on high 1 1/2 minutes.  Stir to combine.

Add in the powdered sugar
and the graham crackers
and mix until thoroughly combined, and the mixture forms a stiff dough.
Get out a piece of waxed paper.  With your hands, shape the dough into small, flattened circles, using about 1 teaspoon of dough per circle.  Do this until all the dough has been used.

Next, get some water boiling in a double boiler.  In the top pan (or bowl, like I used), put the chocolate chips
and when they have mostly melted, add the shortening.
The shortening helps make the chocolate silky smooth, and makes it flow well.  While the chocolate is melting, set out the paper cups so that they are ready to be filled.
Place a peanut butter ball into the chocolate,
turning to coat.  Remove,
and place in a baking cup.
Repeat this process until all of the peanut butter balls are coated, then set them aside to let the chocolate set.
As you can see, mine are not perfectly even, but I think that's part of their charm.  And they still taste fantastic.

They're not limited to cups either.  The dough can be rolled out on waxed paper and cut into any shape you like.  Christmas trees, Valentine hearts, Easter eggs...Whatever you can imagine!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


As I currently have about a bajillion projects going with no completions in sight, I decided today would be a good day to make a pair of earrings.  They are quick, easy, pretty, and provide a sense of accomplishment.

I got out my stash of jewelry making supplies, and gathered together the items I wanted to use.

I trimmed two pieces (approx. 3 in. long) of silver 26 gauge beading wire.

I then bent the ends to act as a stopper, so that the very small seed beads wouldn't slide off.

I sorted the beads, wire, and clasps into earring groups,

and slid the beads on the wire.  I added the clasp, trimmed the wire to size, then twisted and pinched the end to secure.  One done, one to go!

When both were finished, I tried them on and took some pictures, but I'll spare you having to look at them.  Believe me, it's for the best.  Here's the completed pair.

All supplies were purchased at Michael's.
To make the pair I used:
4 11/0 Blue Moon silver glass seed beads, 4 6/0 Jewelry Essentials iridescent green glass seed beads, 4 blue-green faceted beads (the label was missing, so I don't have the info), 2 blue and silver spacer beads (again with missing label), 2 Jewelry Essentials lever back earring findings, and Jewelry Essentials 26 gauge beading wire.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Spinning Project

Quite a while ago, I purchase the book The Intentional Spinner (without DVD) by Judith MacKenzie McCuin.  Ms. McCuin is widely touted as one of the foremost spinning experts in the country, so her book came highly recommended.

yarn that got seriously over spun when plying

When doing some spinning recently, I realized (yet again) I was very unhappy with the way my plying has been going, and, sometimes, with the way my singles have been spun.  I decided I really need to do something about this, so I am.

bamboo singles

bamboo singles, some of which are over spun

I've gotten my copy of the book out, and am thoroughly going through it.  I am going to use it, coupled with spinning videos on youtube, as an in-depth spinning class.  I've got some plain wool to use for the experimentation and learning, and some fabulous alpaca, silk, yak, camel, and cashmere to work with when I've gained a little more confidence and control.

silk and cashmere



 I can't wait to get started!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Random Ramblings

Leanne's shawl
My dh gave the shawl to his coworker, and she absolutely loved it.  No news yet on whether or not it worked, but then the weather is actually nice now, so the a/c isn't really an issue.  Maybe the heating won't become one this winter.

I've started work on a new secret project, which prompted me to take a look at the wips I have listed on my Ravelry project page.  I was a little stunned to see just how many there are.  I think I'm going to focus on getting some done before I add any more new ones to the list.

Slow progress is being made on the vest for I'm designing for Bonnie.  I'm now ready to start the armholes, and am fairly pleased with how the color changes are happening.  I did have to rip back initially because of pooling issues, but working with 3 balls at a time seems to be helping.  I had to do a provisional cast on because Bonnie wasn't sure whether she wanted the bottom edge to match the sides and collar, or if she wanted it as just the main color.  I'll finish everything but that edge, take a picture, and let her decide.

Bonnie's vest, up to the armholes

I was able to stop by the yarn store on Friday, and purchased 8 oz. of mulberry silk, and 1 oz. of cashmere top.  I am very much looking forward to spinning them, but only after a new spinning project I have planned - more on that a little later.  I shall try to spin finely enough to get a wedding ring shawl out of the cashmere.  Anyone have any pattern suggestions?

(left to right) 2 bags of Mulberry Silk Sliver in a silver color, 1 bag of natural colored cashmere top
 I have been working on a cross-stitch project as well, and am quite happy with how it's going.  There are several "personal design features", but that just adds character.  Here's a preview of what I'm making:

The cover of the magazine that has the stocking pattern I'm working on

And just because I think they are fabulous, my fur babies:

Bogey and Gypsy -- it's a dog's life



I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend, and that you remembered to thank a veteran.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

100 Books

While visiting some blogs, I came across a list of 100 books that started as a BBC Meme on Library Thing.  According to the meme, the BBC "believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here."  Now, I did some research, and cannot actually find anything about this on the BBC website, but since I love books, this is one meme I can get behind.  Some of these I think I've read, but am not 100% certain, so I'm not counting them.   Here is the list, with the ones I have read in BOLD:

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare -- I have read some of these, but not the complete works.
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy.
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth.
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt.
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

34 out of 100.  Not bad, I suppose.  I'd like to know how the books were decided upon, and why some of them are, technically, on here twice (i.e. Chronicles of Narnia and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis).  I'm also curious as to how a series of books came to be listed as one book, but now I'm nit-picking.

So, which books have you read?

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's About Time(pieces)

Growing up, I never had allergies of any kind. 

After 12 years of living in Arizona, and without my approval or even knowledge, that changed.

To make a long, boring story short, when recovering from an illness, a doctor gave me some antihistamines to try to see if they would help, and they did.  So, without any further testing, I was informed I have allergies, and that was that.  Of course, I had no idea what I was allergic to, but no matter.

Shortly after moving to my current home, my watch broke.  Having worn one daily for more than 20 years, I felt completely naked without one, so a replacement was a must.

I prefer my watches to be water resistant to at least 50 feet, to have a metal band that is not in any way elasticized, and I have to like the way it looks.  So, I went shopping with this criteria in mind and found one that I liked.

I put it on and wore it happily for several weeks.  Then I noticed that my skin was getting irritated and itchy where the watch was.  I thought perhaps I'd gotten some water under the band, or the heat was causing irritation, so I took it off for a bit.  When I put it back on that evening, I immediately starting having the same reaction.  Now, I'm not always the brightest candle in the chandelier, but I was able to make the connection.  I took the watch off, and looked closely at the back.  It turns out that the back of the case is stainless steel, with the rest being "base metal" that was plated with something else, and the plating was coming off.  Yep, whatever "base metal" is, I am, apparently, allergic to it.

Being a bit upset, and unwilling to take out a mortgage to pay for a high end watch, I accustomed myself to life without one.  Which was harder than you might think.  Even after three years of not wearing one, I would, out of habit, go to check my watch to find out what time it was. 

Well, on Wednesday, Scott had asked me to pick something up for him at Kohl's.  When you walk into the store, one of the first areas you come to is the jewelry counter.  Being a fan of jewelry, I decided to have a browse.  When I got to the watches, one of them really caught my eye, and it was on sale.  In fact, all of the watches were on sale.  I took a closer look.  With the assistance of the saleslady, I discovered that it not only wasn't water resistant, it was also made from the mysterious "base metal", so it was out.  I looked at all of the other watches, and the ones that caught my eye weren't water resistant, and many didn't list what material they were made from. 

I'd pretty much given up, and was headed to menswear when a watch managed to catch my eye.  The one next to it was even better -- same style but a darker face which I preferred.  Then there was another beneath it.  I called the saleslady back over and, trying not to get my hopes up too high, asked to look at the watch with the dark face, and the one with a more decorative band below it.  I looked at one, she looked at the other and they were both water resistant.  Both had metal bands.  Neither were going to cost me an arm and a leg.  But only one was all stainless steel, which I know I'm not allergic to; the other didn't list the materials.

So I got it.  The watch is made by Relic, has a 12 year warranty, and, when you combine the sale and the coupon I had, was only $35.  I couldn't be happier.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How's It Growing?*

Well, as I feared, my dogs did quite a number on my vegetable bed.  They were certain that it was their new "sand" box, and my attempts to convince them otherwise fell on deaf ears.  I did get some plants sprouting up, but much of them stood no chance.  The only survivors were the tomato plants (except the "red beefsteak"), the peas, the beans, and the cucumbers.  So I decided to replant.

This time I went with seedlings, thinking they stood the best chance of survival.  I replaced the "beefsteak" with a "big boy" plant, and got cabbage, strawberries, rhubarb, basil, spinach, romaine lettuce, and red leaf lettuce.

The dogs still went after them, so my dh went out and put up a fence.  Now the dogs are not a problem, but most of the plants are still struggling.  The white coating is due to "salts" that we have in our soil that come up when the ground is wet.  I have a feeling that that cannot be good for the plants, but don't know what to do about it, so I'm going to The Avocado this week to see if they have any ideas.

The tomatoes are surviving for now, but they were hard hit by white flys that come from all the cotton plants that the neighboring farms have growing, and the soapy water used to treat for that.  There are even a few blossoms, but they should be doing more than this by now.

The cucumber and 2 cabbage plants have given up the ghost.  I've decided I'll try some onion there now that I can keep the dogs out.

The beans are doing okay, but I'm anxious to see some further growth on them. The flys got to them a bit too, but they seem better able to stand it.

The peas are also hanging in there, but I'd like to see more growth on them as well.

The flys have really made meals out of the basil (right) and spinach, but as both are showing new growth, I'm holding out hope for them.

The strawberries seem to be somewhat neutral.  They don't really seem to have much, if any, damage, but they also don't really have much, if any, new growth.  They are still green and apparently alive, however, so I'll just be grateful for that.  One cabbage plant is also clinging to life, and showing some new growth.  Hopefully, that will continue.

Finally, we have the rhubarb and lettuces.  The rhubarb does seem to have a bit of wilt going on, but also seems to be holding on, so I'm keeping hope alive for it.  The lettuce it thriving.  I'm not sure why they haven't been damaged by the flys, who have been making themselves at home on them, but they aren't showing any damage.  There is also a lot of new growth, and I'm looking forward to being able to harvest them.

There are a couple of "volunteer" plants sprouting up too.  I'm not sure if they are truly weeds, or if some of the seeds I planted miraculously survived both the dogs and my replanting, so I've decided to let them grow for now.  If they do end up being weeds, I can always pull them later.

If anyone has any tips or suggestions to get this whole thing healthy and thriving, I'd love to hear them.

*I apologize for the horrible pun, but I just couldn't help myself.