Food |Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 8:53 AM
new shoes and great socks

Saturday I met my friend LT at the mall. I’m not really a mall-rat sort of person, but I definitely like to shop! We had only a few simple goals in mind:

1) LT needed a coat.

2) I needed some new shoes.

3) There’s a Cheesecake Factory there.

Have you ever been to Cheesecake Factory, gentle reader? OHMYGOD It’s not just the desserts that are to die for. The food is amazing, too. And they have all of my favorite comfort foods like Shepherd’s Pie and Chicken & Dumplings.

And then there’s the cheesecake.

Of course there was a long line there. But they are of the enlightened school of restaurants that gives you a pager so you don’t have to sit right there waiting. LT and I went down the mall to The Walking Company because I can always find shoes there. I picked out several styles to try on, and the salesman went to the back to get them.

I’ve bought shoes from this particular salesman before, and let me tell you, he is an excellent sales person. He not only cares that the shoes fit your feet correctly, but he has good suggestions about what will fit. He knows his shoes. He knows how to joke around a bit to put the customer at ease. And he’s the kind of sales person that is always trying to “sell up.”

Sales Guy came out with a pile of shoes for me to try on. And I brought these, he said, handing me a pair of thick, black socks. These are great socks and all of our customers love them. They’ll be great for winter.

I already have great socks on, I said.

LT said to Sales Guy You will not win this battle.

What kind of socks do you have? Sales Guy asked. I could see him preparing to debate.

Ones I knit myself, I answered, kicking off my clogs. I was wearing my Waffles With Brown Sugar socks — probably the brightest pair that I own.

Sales Guy’s eyes got bigger, but his face registered defeat. Well, OK! he said. The thick, black socks disappeared discretely.

Don’t my socks look great with my new shoes? 😀

I also had a great time looking at sweaters and figuring out how to knit them while LT looked for a coat. There are some really cute sweaters out this year, but none looked all that tough to knit. Hmmmmmmm

The Knitting Experience - The Purl Stitch

And, OK… I’ll admit it. Not much sock knitting was accomplished this weekend. But I have a good excuse! I spent a lot of time getting ready for the next sock class, which starts in a little over a week. And I tried to get caught up on a few things around the house, like laundry and bills. And I swatched for a sweater.

I know what you’re thinking, gentle reader. Doesn’t she have enough projects going already? Well… one might think so. But, hey… the yarn called.

Actually, the yarn did call. It’s Trendsetter Yarns Fatigues in color #13 – Khaki. It’s kind of a strange yarn, but it knits up nicely. I’ve been eying it for a long time, ever since it came in, thinking it would be great for a casual sweater if I could find just the right pattern. Well, I found the pattern — the basket weave henley sweater from The Purl Stitch. The yarn has been discontinued – I guess other knitters couldn’t figure out what to do with it, either – so I thought I should strike while I could still get the stuff.

So I swatched. So sue me.

#1 Son called yesterday from Florida. Today they are headed for Georgia. He does get around, eh?

Food |Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 6:55 PM
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As promised, the new DSL filter for my  TROUBLE-ed alarm came today. It was the work of just a couple of minutes to remove the old filter and put the new one in (it took longer to find a screwdriver).

Then I called the alarm monitoring company and asked them to put me in test mode. I armed the alarm, waited a few minutes, and breached a zone. The siren whooped while a loud voice demanded, Warning! You have entered a secured area! Leave immediately! I felt so safe! 😆

I turned the alarm off, waited a few minutes for the phone to be available again, and then called the monitoring company. They had received my signal perfectly, so everything was A-OK.

But, best of all, my alarm is no longer  TROUBLE-ed. ET called home and home answered. The yellow light has gone out and has not come back on. Nothing is beeping at me. I have hopes that I might even get to sleep in past 5:00 AM on Saturday!

Sheri at The Loopy Ewe asks:

Loved reading your re-enactment of TROUBLE! But what a short night’s sleep. I hope you used that extra awake time for knitting. 😉

I did some knitting. But mostly I paid bills. I’ve been working such long hours that some things are getting pushed aside. But bill paying does need to be done on a fairly regular basis to keep the creditors from knocking down my door. But a little knitting was accomplished.

I have to admit, though, that the Jaywalkers are growing slowly. But I am knitting on them as I can. I really want to get them finished before my next class starts so I can start a new pair along with the students. I have a couple of weeks yet to go. We’ll see.

Kristie demands:

WHAT? You tempt my taste buds with the delicious thoughts of macaroni & cheese & then … no recipe? There’s so many different variations of the classic recipe that now you must share yours.

OK. Fair enough.

I always consider recipes to be suggestions, so I never follow one exactly. But I do use them for starting points. The recipe I start my mac & cheese with comes from an old Good Housekeeping cookbook that I received as a wedding present — and, gentle reader, I hate to tell you how long ago that was. I looked for a link on the Good Housekeeping web site and, while there were several Mac & Cheese recipes, this one was not there. What follows is my basic version of their classic recipe, but I don’t think I’ve ever made it exactly the same way twice. I’ll put the recipe up on the Freebies page, too.

Judy’s Mac & Cheese

8 oz dry pasta (elbow macaroni, radiatore or rotini, or whatever you have that’s similar)
4 Tbl butter (the real stuff)
3/4 C bread crumbs
1 medium onion, chopped (I like large chunks)
1 Tbl flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard (I like mustard)
dash pepper
2 C non-fat milk
12 oz shredded sharp cheddar (or mix of mostly cheddar with other cheeses)

Cook pasta as label directs; drain. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 2-quart casserole. Melt 2 Tbl of the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and toss to coat; set aside.

Melt the remaining 2 Tbl of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, mustard and pepper until blended. Slowly stir in the milk. Cook until smooth and slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Lower heat, add cheese and continue stirring until cheese is melted. Remove from heat.

Place drained pasta in the casserole. Pour cheese mixture over pasta. Sprinkle crumb mixture over the top.

Bake 20 minutes or until bubbly and bread crumbs are golden. Makes about 4 servings. Recipe may be halved or doubled. Reheats well in microwave.

Try your own varieties: Add veggies or meat, try different cheeses, add nutmeg or chili pepper (or both), have fun!

Food |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 2:36 PM
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I decided, what with the fall weather and all, that macaroni and cheese would be just the thing for dinner yesterday. I love macaroni and cheese. It’s one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. I like my macaroni and cheese — baked with just the right amount of butter bread crumbs on top and with a high cheese-to-macaroni ratio.

#1 Son likes macaroni and cheese, too. But not my macaroni and cheese. When faced with a choice of what I like to think of as the good stuff or that stuff that vaguely resembles food product that comes in the blue box, #1 Son will take the blue box every time.

But #1 Son isn’t here. On Sunday he was in Dallas. Far, far away from the evils of my macaroni and cheese — the good stuff.

Now, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed sometimes, I’ll admit. But I’m a reasonably intelligent person who can usually be counted on to dress herself, hold down a job, and be a responsible member of society. So, one would think that when going to the store with the express purpose in mind of picking up the ingredients for macaroni and cheese… well, one would expect that I would remember…

macaroni

wouldn’t one? Although, as it turns out, mac and cheese made with a combination of penne, rotini and radiatore is actually pretty darn good, and has the added advantage of not requiring another trip to the store.

Thank goodness I remember the cheese.

To those of you who commented on my spoiled child who needs attention burglar alarm — it’s been installed in this house for 10 years with nary a problem. I guess it’s OK if it gets a little attention once per decade. My alarm, like ET wants to call home. But, unlike ET, it hasn’t much patience when it doesn’t get a response. If the new DSL filter doesn’t do the trick, I am going to ask if we can move that particular ET-call-home test to maybe a little later in the morning. I mean… 5:00 AM? Not my time of day.

Knitting by Judy @ 3:35 PM

I was late getting to bed on Friday night. It was an hour into Saturday morning before I crawled between the sheets, made room for the cats and settled down for a snooze. I was sooooo glad that I didn’t have to get up early in the morning for work. I could sleep in. My eyes closed and I drifted off…

beep beep beep beep beep beep beep

I’m a sound sleeper by any measure. But the loud, insistent sound began to penetrate my dreaming brain. I reached out blindly and slapped my alarm clock.

beep beep beep beep beep beep beep

I slapped again. My clock has about 10 buttons on the top. I pushed every single one. Blindly. In my sleep.

beep beep beep beep beep beep beep

OK… maybe it was the phone. Not a usual phone sound, true. But I was asleep. The phone seemed a likely candidate. Eyes still closed and brain still basically in dreamland, I reached out, grabbed the phone, hit the answer button and brought the receiver to my ear. Hello? I heard… Dial tone.

beep beep beep beep beep beep beep

Not the phone. What the heck was it? I realized that I was going to have to, alas, wake up. I blearily opened my eyes part way and, setting my glasses on my nose, rose to a sitting position. 5:00 AM. What the heck was that noise? AH! I’ve got it! It’s the battery backup on the computer. I must have lost power and it’s telling me. I need to shut the computer down. I sleepwalked towards the back bedroom I use as an office. As I passed the control pad for my burglar/fire alarm on the wall, I noticed that the beep was really loud right there. As I turned the corner into the office, the sound faded a little.

beep beep beep beep beep beep beep

OHMYGOD IT WAS THE ALARM!

Instantly wide awake, I started at the alarm control. A yellow light labeled, rather unhelpfully I think,  TROUBLE   was on. Within about 30 seconds, I had every light in the house on. I walked around, looking for something out of place. Everything looked OK. I reset the alarm to turn the beeping off, and looked closer at the control. It didn’t indicate that any zone had been breached. Nor did it indicate a fire. Besides, when a zone is breached, it doesn’t beep. It emits a huge, whooping alarm and yells at the top of its voice, Warning! You have entered a secured area! Leave immediately! Every time I test it or set it off accidentally, I expect to see the robot from Lost In Space (the old TV show, children, not the newer movie) come rolling in: Warning! Danger Will Robinson!

What the heck does  TROUBLE   mean? I’m not really into psychoanalyzing my burglar alarm at 5:00 AM. I got out the owners manual. It informed me that the usual cause of the yellow light was bugs in the fire alarm. Insects, that is. It added, with a note that I’m sure my car mechanic would appreciate, that regular maintenance was the best way to prevent problems. I’ve lived in this house for 10 years. I have to vacuum out my fire alarm? Who knew? I went to bed. The adrenaline rush from the alarm had done its work. Sleep remained elusive.

At 6:00 I arose again, put on a pot of coffee and then turned the vacuum on the fire alarm. I reset the alarm.  TROUBLE    I fetched a can of compressed air, and, balanced precariously on a step ladder, whooshed out the alarm.  TROUBLE 

The manual suggested testing the fire alarm and then resetting. In deference to my neighbor’s Saturday morning sleeping, I waited until after 8:00 AM. Testing the alarm requires the following steps: (1) Call the monitoring service and tell them you will be testing and ignore signals sent for the next hour. (2) Balance precariously for what seems like forever on the aforementioned step ladder while holding a teensy little magnet at the exactly correct distance from the exact correct spot on the side of the fire alarm until the alarm responds by first flashing a red light and then reacts by whooping the alarm and yelling Warning! A fire has been detected! Leave the premises immediately! (3) Climb down off the ladder as fast as possible while holding hands over ears and turn off the alarm.

I reset the alarm. No lights. Everything was quiet. I breathed a sigh of relief, secure in the knowledge that I had solved a problem quite handily. I went back about my own business. For about five minutes.

beep beep beep beep beep beep beep  TROUBLE 

I called the alarm company. They don’t work on weekends but Scott is really good about answering his pager. He was able to look up the signals from my alarm. The good news is that everything is working OK and I’m still safely protected from both unauthorized entry and fire. Once a week, to make sure it can talk to the outside world and send an alarm to police, fire, etc., the alarm sends a signal to the company and waits for a signal back. If it doesn’t get one, it sends again – about 8 or 10 times. Then it starts beeping and trouble-ing so you know there’s a problem. Why does it always happen at Oh-dark-30? I asked in joking sort of way. We pick a time when you’re not likely to be using the phone. Scott replied helpfully. Ack! This was on purpose! Scott thinks I need a new DSL filter because the alarm could send but didn’t recognize the return ping. He’s sending me a new filter in the mail.

If the new filter doesn’t come or doesn’t work, you know what’s going to happen next Saturday at 5:00 AM.

a little stash enhancement

This is a little bit of stash enhancement that occurred this week. Yarn from Lisa Souza. On the left is Mahogany and on the right is Mars Quake.

I know I don’t really, really need any more sock yarn. But who can resist yarn called Marks Quake? And the Mahogany is simply to die for. My camera does not do justice to either. And at $16 for a 560-yard skein, this is one of the best hand-dyed yarn bargains on the internets.

I was also very impressed with Lisa Souza’s customer service. My order was answered by e-mail very promptly. I paid via pay-pal, and that can sometimes slow the order down. But my payment was acknowledged within minutes! The order was mailed and delivered within days. I will definitely buy from Lisa again.

My pocketbook does not find that fortunate.

Socktober Socks #2 are coming along. They are stuck right now in the instep black hole, but they do advance slowly. If I can just get some knitting, time, I will get them done!

Knitting by Judy @ 6:37 AM
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You may have noticed, gentle reader, that our list of fellow Yarn Collectors is growing! The latest to join is Stephanie @ Knit Picky.

When I suggested to Stephanie that maybe we needed a secret handshake or something similar. She countered via email with this thought:

Maybe we need a needle routine, like the rifles at football games?

In my minds eye, I could see hundreds of knitters on the field, needles flashing in the sun: Needles right! Needles left! Knit two! Purl three! And Turn! And cable!

Of course the crowds in the stands would be going wild. What kind of show could possibly beat hundreds of knitters at half-time?

I know I am easily pleased, but the whole picture just set me to giggling. At work. I made a valiant attempt to control myself when people in adjoining cubes starting looking at me. In the end I needed to take a little walk to regain my composure.

I mean… maybe we could do a marching routine. Some of the knitters could have metal needles like Addi Turbos or the Knitpicks needles. And some could have bamboo or rosewood or ebony. And we could create different designs with the different colors as we marched…

See what I mean? The possibilities are endless!

Knitting by Judy @ 8:48 AM
into the frog pond they go

You will note from the side bar, gentle reader, that Socktober Socks #1 should have been finished last night at midnight. Am I finished with them?

Yeah… I’m finished with them all right.

The picture shows their fate. From the pool of curly yarn, you can probably guess how far I got with them.

I just could not feel the love from this yarn. So soft and lovely in the skein, the fabric I knit from it felt… scratchy. There’s no other word for it. Maybe smaller needles and a denser fabric might have helped. Maybe I could have washed the darn things in some Downy. But I just couldn’t keep going with them. I do not want feet I care about to be encased in something harsh and uncomfortable.

In fact, I found myself doing all kinds of things to avoid knitting those socks. For example, I modified the map page showing #1 Son’s tour dates so that the cities are numbered with lines drawn between them, and little pop-up windows give info about the venue (where I knew it) and there’s a line drawn between cities so you can follow along with where they’re going next, and the markers are numbered and color-coded for past, present and future.

I really didn’t want to knit those socks.

Eventually I gave in and sent them to the frog pond. I was not going to be happy with them, ever. The yarn will go into the stash to become… something else.

toe-up Jaywalkers

I started in on Socktober Socks #2 in Regia Silk in colorway 189. I heard this yarn whispering Judy… knit me into Jaywalkers… that is what I am made for. So I started a pair of toe-up Jaywalkers. I think I must be the only person in the knitting blogosphere who hasn’t hopped on to the Jaywalker train. But who am I to argue with my yarn?

I now hope to complete Socktober Socks #2 on time, if work does not continue to compete. I have a different skein of yarn — some STR in a colorway called Downpour — tagged for the second attempt at Socktober Socks #1.

I’ll keep you posted. 😆

#1 Son left on Thursday to begin the long, long tour. I sent him off with warm hands and warm feet. He said he was excited and a little apprehensive. He thought that when he returned just before Thanksgiving it would be OK if I went back to coddling him as is my wont. (I swear those were his words.)

I was left with a warm heart.

Oh, and… Happy Birthday Alice! And Happy Birthday to B, also. I know it was last week and I’m sorry I missed it!



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Stuff I Gotta Do

Follow The Leader shawl

30%

entrelac wrap

0%

Arabesque shawl

100%

Jubjub Bird Socks

15%

I Mog Di

15%

Peacock Feather Shawl

0%

Honeybee Stole

5%

Irtfa'a Faroese Shawl

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Lenore

20%

Fatigues henley sweater

10%

Jade Sapphire Scarf

15%

#1 Son's Blanket

2%

Cotton Bag

1%