Food |Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 10:51 PM

#1 Son in the kitchen
#1 Son in the kitchen

This Christmas we tried something new. Usually #1 Son comes to my house for dinner and present opening, and we watch a movie or whatever and just chill. This year I asked #1 Son if it would be fun if I came to his house instead, and we could cook together and feed which ever of his roommates or friends were around and hungry? He thought that sounded fun, and we planned accordingly.

A couple of days later, he mentioned that his Totally Adorable Girlfriend™ would be in town. I said that she, of course, would be welcome, too.

A couple of days after that, he mentioned that TAGF’s™ father, J, (who lives in Portland), would like us to all come to his house instead. I wasn’t sure if I was really ready for the whole meet the ‘rents thing. But we try to go with the flow around here.

#1 Son still wanted me to come to his house because he’d done massive cleaning and didn’t want to waste it it sounded fun. So the plan became: I go to #1 Son’s house and we whip up an amazing vegetable stew…

getting ready for the feast
getting ready for the feast

Which we take over to J’s house, where he and TAGF™ will have crafted the rest of our feast.

And feast it was! #1 Son and I contributed the stew – amazing stew! – couscous with hazelnuts, and a bottle of wine. J broiled a wonderful halibut dish. And TAGF™ mashed potatoes, steamed asparagus, and baked a cheesecake for dessert. All of the food was amazing, and I ate a lot of it. We all did, actually. J was a gracious host and I enjoyed meeting him. I had a very nice time.

There was a bit of present swappage, too.

look! I knit something!
look! I knit something!

Look! I knit something! I finished these just last night, for TAGF™, which means it’s probably the last finished object of 2009.

  • Yarn: Sundara Sock (100% Superwash Merino / 360 yds per 100gm skein) in Basil over Buttercup – less than 1/2 of one skein
  • Needles: a pair of Addi Lace 24″ circular, US#2 (3 mm)
  • Pattern: Merletto Mitts by Jodie Scofield – a free download on Ravelry
  • Modifications: continued cuff ribbing on the palm side all the way up the wrist; fussed with the thumb a little.

I think she likes them
I think she likes them

It appears that she likes them!

When questioned, #1 Son had told me that her favorite color was chartreuse. I wasn’t sure whether to believe him or not. #1 Son can be a bit of a kidder, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if he’s being serious or not – especially via text message.

This was the chartreuse-est yarn I could find in my stash. All the time I knit I kept fingers and toes crossed that she really did like green. But she assured me that she really does, and her favorite color really is chartreuse.

#1 Son told me that he didn’t even know what color chartreuse was and he’d had to look it up, so there was no way he could have actually been kidding about it.

#1 Son got his big present a few weeks ago, but I gave him a little space heater for his room. He lives up in the attic of a 100-year-old house, and it’s cold in the winter. This one can also be used as a fan without heat, so it will also be useful in the summer when his room is too hot.

a little bling for the ears
a little bling for the ears

#1 Son gave me a bit of bling for my ears. Aren’t they pretty and sparkly! I can’t wait to wear them.

And also a cute little lantern candle-holder to hang outside in the summer.

I don't know what it is but it's pretty cool
I don't know what it is but it's pretty cool

TAGF™ gave me this. I have no idea what it is, but it has lots of little gears that whir and springs that wind and little feet that go around as it scuttles across the table. The geek factor is high and I like it!

I know I’ve been mostly absent, but I’ve had a lot going on the last month or so. Gentle reader, I will tell you all about it in the next post…

Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 7:46 AM

afternoon view
afternoon view

I really thought that the week was going to calm down a little bit.

That was before #1 Son’s computer started having what we in the vaguely techie business like to call issues. When in need, #1 Son always calls Mom’s Tech Support. This particular incident ended up requiring a complete wipe of the hard drive and reinstall of XP, and there were driver issues and… I won’t bore you with the details. But it took time.

And then there was the little incident where the nice officer on the lovely motorcycle stopped me as I was on my way home from dropping the fur kids off at the Cat B&B. He informed me that I’d just been doing 30 in a school zone. I’m usually very, very careful about that. In my defense, it was a high school that sits way back from the main street. It was the middle of the morning and no children were anywhere to be seen. And I admit to a bit of distraction as I tried to figure out how to cram 3 days of activities into about 8 hours.

I banged my head against my fortunately knit cozy clad steering wheel while the nice officer wrote out a ticket.

And then I ended up sort of needing a second root canal. The good news is that now the pain is all gone. But it took time. Actually, more time than usual.

I have a very tiny mouth. (No comments from you out there in the peanut gallery.) But it turns out that I have deep roots and a lot of nerve. So it takes a bit of doing to make sure I don’t feel anything while the whole root canal procedure is being performed. And that takes time. But with that finally accomplished, Dr. P was happily reaming out my tooth, and I was happily ignoring the whole thing as I lay there with what feels like a balloon pressed against my mouth and drool running down my chin, when the light went out.

You know. That light that the dentist shines in your face so that the inside of your mouth is lit up? That light. It went out. The. Light. Went. Out.

After a stunned silence, a mad flurry of activity ensued as everyone in the office tried to change the light bulb. (I just know there’s a really good joke in there.) It turns out that those light thingies are quite complicated mechanisms and you have to practically take the whole thing apart just to change this itsy bitsy light bulb. And the person in the office who used to change all of the light bulbs because she just loooooved doing it so much had retired the month before. And nobody was really sure of the best approach.

It was suggested that I be moved to the next room. But the room wasn’t ready and it was announced that in that room the brain wouldn’t boot up. I have no idea what that meant. But I really had no desire to be in a room where the brain wouldn’t boot while my mouth was under construction.

As the mad flurry whirled around, Dr. P (love this man) calmly continued with his business, mostly by feel and with the help of a little hand held fiber optic spot light. I lay in the chair, drool dripping from my chin and laughing at the absurdity. Because, really, what else could I do?

Eventually Dr. P reached the point in the whole operation where more light became necessary. What are you doing? he asked the light bulb changers.

It’s difficult to do and you have to use this spreader and it’s hard to get it in the right place. was the reply, in a tone that said you obviously have no idea how to do this or you would understand.

Dr. P stood up. Give me the screwdriver. And he started in trying to take the thing apart.

I have been taking things apart and putting them back together since I could hold a screwdriver, and I desperately wanted to get up and get in on the fun. But, all things considered, I decided it was safer to stay where I was and watch from the sidelines. Eventually the old bulb was removed, the new bulb was inserted and the light fixture was returned to a fairly usable state. Dr. P finished up his business, my tooth was reconstructed in a temporary sort of way, drool was wiped off my chin and I was off back to the races.

I ran home, threw a few more driver disks at #1 Son, threw a load of laundry in the washer, and headed out the door to Westside Wednesday Sip ‘N’ Stitch because I really felt that, all things considered, I deserved at least a short bit of knitting with my peeps. I had decided that I would just plead guilty to the traffic ticket (remember the ticket? – that was before the root canal) and make it go away. So, carefully following instructions, I signed the ticket, wrote out a check, tucked both inside an envelope addressed to the correct location. And just as I stuffed it into the slot in the mail box and it left my grasp never to be recovered, I realized that I’d sort of forgotten to put a stamp on it.

Yeah. It was just that kind of week.

But today is ever so much better. The pic is of the view out my back door yesterday afternoon. I am at Cat Bordhi’s annual visionary retreat, where I am surrounded by amazing people in this gorgeous setting and my creative juices are flowing. And I may even get some work done on the book. But blogging, I’m afraid, may be sporadic for the next few days. I could tell you all about the retreat and who’s here and all, but then I’d have to kill you or something because it’s all a deep, dark secret and very mysterious and blah, blah, blah. (It’s actually a lot of hard work.) But I will try to blog more from Madrona, where I will attempt to Kennear all kinds of famous people — maybe even the Yarn Harlot!

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 12:00 PM
tags: ,

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Either. I really love wrapping gifts and try very hard to make the wrapping suit the gift and the receiver. And it must be glitzy and pretty, too.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Always real.

3. When do you put up the tree?
It used to be whenever I caught a cold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. OK. Not really, but it always seemed like I was tramping around a tree farm looking for a tree with a running nose. Now that I’m living alone, I don’t decorate, except for a wreath outside my door.

4. When do you take the tree down?
New Year’s Day. Except now it’s the wreath I take down and not the tree.

5. Do you like eggnog?
Yes, but only homemade. I don’t like the stuff that comes in cartons. I’d prefer Tom & Jerry’s, and that batter has to be homemade, too. I know… picky, picky.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Oh, that’s hard! When I was about four years old, I received a red dress that had gold rickrack on it. It was meant as a Christmas party dress, but I instantly thought of it as my princess dress and would have lived in it had my mother allowed it. Second favorite was probably the year that my cousin made us all new Christmas sockings because ours were rather old and tired and really needed replacing.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
#1 Son. He needs many things but doesn’t often like to ask for them. And some of the things he wants are beyond my expertise.

8. Easiest person to buy for?
Bro and his family. Every year I buy them tickets to a local Christmas concert and we go together.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes. I have a lovely nativity. My mother gave it to me one piece every year until the set was completed, starting the first Christmas I was married. I display it on the piano, which is just the right size and shape.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Email. If I remember. I usually call close friends and family.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
I can’t think of an actual gift that I haven’t liked. But a dog I’d had as a teenager passed away on Christmas eve. That was not a very happy year.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
It’s a tie between A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Sreet and White Christmas.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I start early and finish before Thanksgiving. Nothing else in my life is as disciplined as my Christmas shopping, trust me. But I refuse to go into a mall between Thanksgiving and New Years. Refuse. The discipline was ingrained before online shopping became available as an option.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Yes. Not often, but I have regifted things that I can’t use to someone who can. I am more likely to exchange it, though. But either happens very rarely.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
My mother’s peppernuts.

16. Lights on the tree?
Yes, multicolored.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
I’ve always loved We Three Kings. For some reason the minor melody touches me. That’s probably tied with Sleighride. In a more modern vein, The Trail Band’s original tune Dancing ‘Round The Christmas Tree has my toes tapping.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
I love staying home. But for a few years #1 Son and I went to Las Vegas for Christmas and had a wonderful time.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
You betcha! I once got a speeding ticket because I was trying to remember them and recite them to #1 Son — he was about 3 at the time — and not paying attention on a hill in a neighborhood that was marked 25MPH and had a speed trap at the bottom.

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas morning. When I was a kid we once opened the presents on Christmas Eve and then couldn’t figure out what to do Christmas morning. The family decided unanimously never to do that again.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
People who are so intent on getting the “perfect” present that they don’t care how rude they are as long as the objective is accomplished. That’s why I don’t go to malls during the season.

22. Favorite ornament theme or color?
I love hand-made ornaments of all kinds.

23. What do you want for Christmas this year?
It’s always hard for me to think of things I want, beyond my family safe and around me. Even when I was a child I had a hard time coming up with Christmas lists.

24. Angel on the tree top or a star?
When I was growing up, we had a star. Now I have an angel that has been on my tree for years and years. It’s always the last thing that goes up on the tree, and the first that comes down.

25. Favorite Christmas dinner?
A re-do of Thanksgiving, except with carrot pudding for desert instead of pumpkin pie. Last year, though, I made a big every-vegetable-in-the-world stew, and it was pretty darned awesome.

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 3:12 PM

This may be the last Conversations With Teenagers post, as #1 Son will no longer be one come July. Dare I hope we will then move to something like Conversations With Adults?

sound of ringing phone…

Mom: Hello?

#1 Son: Hi, Mom. Say… I’ve got almost enough for that ticket to Europe and I really, really need to buy it and can you just front me a little bit so I can get that taken care of? Please? Please?

Mom [sigh]: OK.

#1 Son: Great! I need a round-trip from here to Frankfurt. I need to be there by this date, and come back after that date. I’ve looked online, and SiteX was the cheapest.

Mom: Let me look. OK. No. It looks like SiteY is cheaper today. Are you sure you are flying in and out of Frankfurt?

#1 Son: Yes. Frankfurt.

Mom: Your first show is in Stuttgart and the last is in Denmark. Are you sure Frankfurt?

#1 Son: YES. Frankfurt.

Mom: OK. [finger poised above mouse, cursor hovering over book button] How are you getting to Stuttgart?

#1 Son [after long pause]: I’ll call you right back.

Mom: OK. [cancels ticket purchase]

sound of ringing phone…

Mom: Hello?

#1 Son: Hey, it’s Munich. That’s where I need to go. The guy that’s releasing the record in Europe lives in Munich and he’s picking us up at the airport.

Mom: Ah. Munich is different than Frankfurt. Will he get you back to Munich after the last show?

#1 Son: We’ll figure it out. I’m sure he will.

Mom: OK. Well, I’m looking online and it looks like there are several choices. You can fly though Chicago or Philadelphia or Charlotte. Any idea what flights the other guys are on?

#1 Son [after long pause]: I’ll call you right back.

Mom: OK. [cancels ticket purchase]

sound of ringing phone…

Mom: Hello?

#1 Son: Hey. Go out to our band email account and log in. Drummer Boy’s itinerary is in an email. Can you get me on the same flights going over? The others are staying longer after the tour, so I’ll probably have to fly back by myself.

I could, and I did. #1 Son is sitting next to Drummer Boy on the first leg, and behind him on the second. See what you can do with a little information? And what, I ask you gentle reader, would punk rockers ever do without their moms?

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you.

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 11:49 PM

almost blossoms
almost blossoms

It’s been that kind of day.

It started when I realized that the blog feed was not working, so my April fools post – which was actually created on April 1st – was delivered on April 2nd, if at all. Well… that sort of killed the joke, eh?

Having chewed on that problem for a bit, I headed out to the kitchen. There I popped a cup of coffee in my old, trusty microwave to reheat, while I gazed out the back door on my yard – sunny and, dare I say, springlike? The picture shows what my yard really looks like today. See the blue, blue sky and the cherry blossoms about to pop? Ah… finally. The snow picture was from January, 2007, and I do not want to see that return.

As I stood contemplating the return of spring, I heard what can only be described as a groan behind me. A groan, and then a thud, and then silence. I turned in horror. The microwave had died. It completed its mission to heat my cup of coffee. And it was dead. As dead as Marley’s ghost. Deader, actually, as Marley’s ghost could speak and rattle his chains. But Micro (as it was known to friends and family), could do neither. It was as dead as a doornail.

And why, gentle reader, do we use that phrase? Are doornails any more dead than, say, door knobs or window sashes or venetian blind slats? It seems they must, somehow, be. But I digress.

Since the demise of the old refrigerator, Micro has been the oldest of my major appliances. It has been my good and trusty servant for 20 years (it was actually older than #1 Son). In its youth, it was quite something – a combination microwave/convection oven that was rather expensive when purchased. I felt very proud when it came home to my kitchen. It had been repaired once, under warranty, but since then it had never missed a beat. Many a healthy and tasty meal were cooked in it, and certainly I got my money’s worth out of it. But in latter days, in deference to its extreme old age, it was more likely to warm a cup of coffee or pop the occasional bag of popcorn.

The last year or two it has made some sort of strange noises now and again. But it kept right heating up whatever I tossed its way with few complaints. Although I knew that in microwave years it was an ancient beast, it seemed to be one of those eternal things that are always there. I assumed that someday #1 Son would come to take care of my worldly possessions when I no longer needed them, and would find a good home for Micro. I just never expected to have to replace it. Poor Micro. The groan it gave as its last gasp was truly pitiable.

Thus I contemplated its life and mourned its death as I sipped my piping hot cup of coffee. Thank you, Micro, for warming my morning.

fruit bouquet
fruit bouquet

Tomorrow is one of my colleague’s birthday, and this fruit bouquet was sent to mark the occasion. Isn’t this just yummy? What a good idea instead of flowers!

The card said that it should be eaten within 4 hours, and so my colleague asked us all to help out. Who am I to turn down such a heartfelt plea?

Those roundish white things that you see – bananas dipped in white and dark chocolate. Yeah. To die for. And chocolate-covered strawberries. And I can report that the melons, oranges and grapes were quite tasty as well. I had to help out, right? 😉

The fruit fueled my after-work excursion to the local big-box store in search of a new microwave. Not a replacement, mind you, because nothing could replace Micro. But a new one that could do the job.

I found that the state of the art has progressed somewhat over the last 20 years. Microwaves are smaller, lighter and have tons of features for a rather small price. I was pleasantly surprised. I opted not to get one that has a convection over in it. I really haven’t used that feature much and I didn’t want to pay extra for it. But I found a nice, medium-sized microwave and brought it home.

The new microwave and I will need to get used to each other. In Micro’s honor, I decided to start with a bag of popcorn. The first bag was… burned to a crisp darned near burned the kitchen down set off the fire alarm a bit over-popped. The second bag was much better. I believe that, over time, we will grow used to each other’s ways. If I am lucky, this microwave will last even 1/2 as long as Micro did.

I do feel badly about missing Wednesday night knitting. Next week, for sure.

Food |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 6:13 PM

Mama’s recipe box
Mama’s recipe box

Kay and Ann at Maxon-Dixon Knitting are hosting the Grandma Mable Memorial Recipe Box Show & Tell Contest over on their blog. (Head over there for the whole story.)

The cool result of this contest will be a virtual recipe box, full of wonderful things to cook (and eat) from everyone who enters.

Now… one is supposed to post a picture of one’s recipe box. But my recipe box is just a black metal box made to hold index cards that I picked up at some long-ago-forgotten office supply place back in the mid-1970’s. Boring. So I dug a little further into my cupboard.

This is Mama’s recipe box.

Mama was an adequate, if rather uninspired, cook. Meat and potatoes, a green veggie and a yellow veggie. On Fridays the meat was fish, on Sundays roast beef. Mama had a cupboard full of herbs and spices. Each had been purchased for a single recipe that called for it, and then never used again. The family joke was that Bro and I learned to cook because… somebody had to.

So it’s no surprise that this box is not completely full of recipes. At least 1/3 of the cards are resolutely blank.

I have no idea how old Mama’s recipe box is. Inked into the inside of the lid is her maiden name. That dates it to pre-1941. The sticker on the front says Gold Medal Kitchen Tested Recipes. It’s safe to say that most were not tested in Mama’s kitchen. The card on the inside is signed by Betty Crocker.

kitchen tested recipes
kitchen tested recipes

This recipe comes from my Godmother, a wonderful woman who was an extremely good cook and passed several recipes along to both Mama and I. It’s a great way to use up all that extra zucchini in the summer, as even the extra-large ones will be OK.

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup oil
2-1/2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated zucchini

Mix all ingredients together.
Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.
Bake at 350-F for one hour.

Grandma’s recipes
Grandma’s recipes

While we’re showing old things from family history, this binder belonged to Grandma (Mama’s mom).

It’s a leather three-ring binder, but very few pages are actually on the binder rings. For the most part, the individual pages and recipes and clippings are just stuck willy-nilly in with no regard for type of recipe. I have no idea how she found anything in it. The gold elastic Christmas present cord is used to hold the whole thing together.

I pulled a couple of items out randomly. The ubiquitous Betty Crocker makes another appearance with a Chocolate Chiffon Cake Recipe and my Great Aunt Bess’ (Grandma’s sister) recipe for pickle relish has been hand written on a brittle and yellowing piece of note paper from Garrett Truck Lines (no idea why).

One of my favorite items from Grandma’s binder is a little booklet entitled Make It Right With Lard, published by the National Livestock and Meat Board. The picture on the front has the word Lard spelled via holes cut in a pie crust. It contains some nifty tips for cooking with the perfect fat, and recipes for everything from biscuits to ginger snaps. Maybe it’s just me, but I cannot imagine ginger snaps made with lard.

I have no idea how old the binder is. The leather is dry and cracking in places. Many of the pages are starting to crumble. Grandma passed in 1980 at the age of 97. She was a wonderful cook and collected recipes her whole life. The binder could have been acquired at any time.

Isn’t it funny how things just skip generations? Grandma and all of my Great Aunts cooked and baked and sewed and knitted and crocheted and quilted and tatted and embroidered. But neither Mama nor her sister, my aunt G., were cooks. Neither could sew beyond the basics. Neither was into any sort of handcrafting. They had many other wonderful qualities and talents. But not those.

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