29 October 2007

Time Flies When You're...

Having a Halloween Party. The party went off successfully Friday night and there were only a few casualties. This is due to Husband's diligence, not mine. The children all proceeded directly to the basement to play, and were thus out of my sphere of concern. (I was stationed in the kitchen/dining room.) Husband went down to supervise with several other husbands when it became known that Neighbor Down the Street had pulled one of the doors off of the entertainment center. It's possible that Husband was also trying to avoid being forced into playing Outburst. No one went home crying, either child or adult, so that's a successful outcome in my book. I promised several people the recipe for the Mexican Cheesecake, so here it is:

1 pound softened cream cheese
8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 packages taco seasoning mix
2 cups sour cream, divided
4 oz can green chilies, drained and chopped
2/3 c salsa

Preheat oven to 350. Combine cheeses, beat till fluffy. Stir in 1 c sour cream and taco seasoning. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add chilies. Pour into 9" springform pan. Bake 35-40 min till center is firm. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. Spoon remaining sour cream over cheesecake, bake 5 minutes more. Cool completely, cover and refrigerate several hours. Before serving remove sides of springform pan and top with salsa.
*note: I left the green chilies out when I made this for the party.

Knitting for Charity. I finished the mittens and facecloth for franna. I just finished washing them, and they should be ready to send out tomorrow. If I never knit with that circular needle again it will be too soon. Does this mean I've thrown it away? Are you kidding? I don't have another US3, 16" needle.

Getting Cool Stuff in the Mail. I just participated in the Knitters Tea Swap 4. My swap buddy was Ceme and I got 2 packages from her on Friday. There was lots of good stuff including some beautiful Schaefer Anne yarn. The sad part is that by my count I've only got 3 of my 5 donateable items done, so it will have to wait a bit before I can get to it. That stuff's all for me, baby.

23 October 2007

Mitten Knittin'

Mitten 1 is finished, mitten 2 is on the needles. I realize that they are not the most attractive mittens ever, but it's more important for them to be warm than to be fashionable.

As I sit here in front of my computer I am wondering how it is that I again find myself in the position of way too much to do, not enough time to do it. I'm just a housewife, I don't have a "job," I'm not supposed to have this kind of stress in my life. Everyone knows that housewives just sit around watching soap operas and eating bon bons, right? Why is my life not that easy? Husband is sure that I'm bored and lonely while Daughter is at school. I'd kill to be bored and lonely.

We are having a Halloween party for some neighbors on Friday and this is what my house looks like. There are boxes of decorations strewn around the living room, and it looks like Club Libby Lu puked all over Daughter's bedroom, again. There is so much cleaning to be done I'm paralyzed by the thought of doing it all. And did I mention that Husband flew off to Houston again yesterday? That means my only help is Daughter, who has a cleaning attention span of .24 seconds and Son who has roughly 13 minutes between when he gets home from school and when he leaves again for work. Someone please, please send me some house elves. I promise I'll give them socks when they're done.

19 October 2007

How Charitable Exactly?

The hat of pain is finished. I have started on the mittens and I think I'll be able to get the hat, a pair of mittens, and a facecloth all done by the end of the month. Naturally by saying that I have just about ensured that I will have some kind of accident this afternoon which will render me unfit for knitting till October 31 at the earliest.

I now need to decide how I am going to count these projects. As you may recall I vowed to work on nothing but charity projects till I had 5 done or the month was over whichever came second. I have completed one hat, and am partway through one mitten. Here's the question: At the end of this, how many things will I have done for charity? It could be considered one project since it's all going to the same place for the same person. It could be three since there will be a hat, mittens and a facecloth. It could even be four since there are, after all, two mittens. How far can I push the oath and not get a lightening bolt?
P.S. Thanks to Mother Nature for the fall colors that are finally starting to show up.

17 October 2007

Tooth or Dare

When Husband and I got married I had not been to see a dentist in 9 years. I had several reasons but the most important was that I don't like pain. As a child my experiences with the dental hygienist were not favorable. I'm sure you're familiar with the device they use to clean teeth, the rubber cup that's attached to the drill motor. Our hygienist felt that the powered tool was not effective on its own; it had to be applied to the teeth with extreme force as well. There were times, and I swear to you I'm not exaggerating, that she pressed so hard on my teeth that the thing stalled out. When I came home from the dentist after a cleaning I often couldn't chew food for 2 or 3 days, it was just too painful. Although I never had braces I feel like I can sympathize with the pain involved.

After marrying Husband he insisted that I start going to the dentist again. He found a dentist who's hygienist was wonderful. Her name is Pat and she was wonderfully kind to my teeth. She cleaned them many times and not a single time did she cause me pain. When I went to the dentist yesterday I learned that Pat has retired. Dentist himself cleaned my teeth. I will say this for him; he's thorough. My teeth feel very clean today. He uses (as Pat did) a metal pick that shoots high pressure water to clean around the gumline. But the water isn't always sufficient so naturally he then uses the pointy part to scrape off offending matter. This is fine as long as it is directed at a tooth (which is hard) but not so good when he misses and uses it on the gums (which aren't so much.) Pat also never forgot which tool was in which hand. Mirror: used to hold lips and such out of the way for a better view. Pick thing: used to scrape stuff from teeth. I'll let you work out what happens when you forget which is which. Apparently this has been designated Poke Kathy With Pointy Objects week.

The hat progresses, and I can be thankful that I'm over half done at this point. I may be able to get out of this with no permanent index finger injuries.

16 October 2007

Knitter, Know Thyself

It turns out that I do know myself pretty well. The partial Wallaby you saw last week has been returned to it's ball form. No trace of the sweater remains, which is probably for the best. What child wants to wear a peachy/orangey sweater anyway?

I have moved on to the next thing which will be a hat and mittens for this worthy cause. I'm making it out of the green wool I decided not to use for the Celtic Icon sweater. It's good sport weight wool which should keep a head and hands warm, but the downside is that I'm knitting on needles designed by Torquemada. They are the pointiest needles that I've ever used, and I'm knitting pretty tight so the hat will keep the poor man's head warm. When I knit I hold the yarn in my left hand, make the stitch, then use my right pointer finger to push the needle tip and get the old stitch off. Technique + needles = index finger that alternates between numb and numbingly painful. It only took about 3 hours of this before I thought, "gee, maybe if I put a bandage on my finger it won't hurt so much." I may be slow, but I will get there eventually. I'm actually looking forward to the mittens so I can use my less pointy DPNs. And I usually avoid DPNs like the plague.

As for the 2 truths and a lie, I WAS a parts department manager at a motorcycle dealership, I DO have a burning desire to fly a helicopter, but I have NOT gone 100 miles just to go to a yarn shop. I'm sure it will happen at some point in my life, but not yet. I'm in the planning stages of a 42 mile trip to visit a DYS (Distant Yarn Shop,) but that will be longest yarn inspired trip yet. It's just the downside of technology; too easy to shop on the Internet.

12 October 2007

And there it is, Trenton's Wallaby. Does the hood look a little on the small side to anyone else? I'm hoping it's just a weird photo perspective thing, but I'm a little concerned because kids have giant heads, proportionally speaking.

I started another Wallaby yesterday afternoon, but I don't think it's going to make it. The yarn isn't quite heavy enough to get the right gauge. The fabric is ending up looking pretty holey.
You'd think I would have caught that in the swatching process. Unless you know that my swatching process is: Start knitting. If it turns out, great. If not, frog it and start over. Or frog it and move on to something else. Which is how this one is likely to go.

I have nothing else new or witty to say, so I leave you with this game I learned recently. I will post 3 statements about myself. Two are true and one isn't. I leave it to you to figure out which is which.

1. I have been employed as a Parts Department manager at a motorcycle dealership.

2. I have traveled over 100 miles one way just to go to a yarn shop.

3. I have a secret ambition to learn how to fly a helicopter.

Perhaps I'll find a valuable prize for whoever gets the right answer.

11 October 2007

So Now What?

Boy, now that the vacation is over and my parents are gone (they got here 2 days after we got home) my days seem to be full of... not much. No deadlines, no upcoming trips, no visitors coming in, no cleaning like a mad person. Well, OK so I never really get around to cleaning like a mad person, but I always feel like I should be cleaning like a mad person. I have spent a couple of days playing around on Ravelry. (PetoskyTurtle is the name to look for there) and I've caught up on all my recent CSI episodes, so now what do I do?

It looks like I cast on some mindless knitting. In looking over my last few projects I noticed a common denominator. They were all for me. I have to tell you that I'm not usually such a narcissist, but I couldn't help myself. The yarn was so yummy, the pattern was so cool, the concept was so different that I couldn't resist the temptation. But now my sanity has returned and I am knitting for someone else. Originally this was going to be for the donate pile, but I realized that it would be perfect for Nephew. His dad is an avid outdoors guy, so the camoflagishness (look Mom, I invented a new word!) will work well. I finished it an hour ago and was then faced with a challenge: What do I do next?

I could cast on the beautiful Maple Leaf shawl I picked up at stitches, or I could cast on the shawl I ordered from Fiddlesticks (thanks YarnHarlot for the enabling on that one), or I could start the second Bart sock. But again, me, me, me. Can't do it. Must knit for others. Must use my God given gift for the betterment of society.

So in the presence of God and everyone who reads this blog (which at this point is my family, MadMad, and the Fibreholic) I solemnly swear that I will knit nothing intended for myself for the rest of the month, or until 5 more projects have been completed, whichever comes second. I'll leave you to mull over the "intended for" part of that pledge, because I sense that it could become a loophole if I tried hard enough.

08 October 2007

South Dakota: The Saga Continues

Buffalo in Custer State Park. We drove around through this lovely park several times in the course of the next several days. There was a lot to see there, things like antelope, turkeys, antelope, turkeys, antelope, turkeys, buffalo, antelope, turkeys, and wild donkeys.

Wind Cave which is also in Custer State park. Daughter and I had never been in a cave before, it was pretty cool. There are rock formations found in this particular cave that aren't found in other caves. It's called boxwork and it looks sort of like square honeycombs. Check out the link if you're interested in the scientific stuff.

We went to the chili cookoff in...wait for it... Custer State park. There were 17 teams competing. The photo shows people lined up and waiting for the opening bell to sound. You purchase a kit which contains a little cup, a plastic spoon, one napkin, instructions, and a golden bean. You taste all of the varieties then give your bean to the team whose chili you liked best. The team with the most beans wins the people's choice award. Of the 6 of us who were tasting, 5 of us chose the Gold Rush team, while Brother-In-Law went with the Tailgaiters. It shouldn't surprise you too much to hear that we left immediately after we were done tasting, so I have no idea who won the competition.

On the way home from the chili cookoff we drove through Custer State park some more and came upon a herd of donkeys. These guys are very clever. They know that if the cars stop there will probably be food in the offing, so they all stand still in the middle of the road and won't move. Naturally we got out and gave them the last of the kettle corn that we still had. Daughter learned a valuable lesson: Don't stand behind a donkey. Luckily it was just a glancing blow because a straight on kick would possibly have broken her leg. Wouldn't that have been a fun way to end our vacation?

And finally on Monday we got up at 5:30 in the morning to go to the Buffalo roundup in Custer State park. They herd them in so that they can give them their immunizations, brand them, and sell the surplus animals. It was a pretty cool sight, but it left me imagining what it must have looked like 200 years ago when herds of tens of thousands of buffalo would have been roaming the countryside. It also struck me as somewhat funny that there were 11,000 people there to watch the herd of 1300 being brought in. All of the people had to stand inside of their viewing area and weren't allowed to go from one side to the other. It seems to me like the buffalo got a better show than we did.

And thus ended the great buffalo roundup trip, with one other memorable event. While waiting for our flight out of Rapid City I got out the second Sole Solution sock and worked on it for a while. I got to the heel flap, got it about half done then looked at what I had...

You see it don't you? Take special note of the toe. This may help...

I'm going to call this my Misery sock, because the only person who could wear them would be James Caan after Kathy Bates works on him in the movie Misery. So I spent the rest of the wait in the airport ripping out the heel and trying again. Mistake corrected, sock finished, trip completed!

05 October 2007

South Dakota, Day 2

When we last saw Kathy she was stuck in the rear seat of a 12 passenger van hurtling through southwestern South Dakota.

And really, that's pretty much where I spent a lot of my time during our vacation. On the second day we went to see...

Mount Rushmore. "Sculpted" by Gutzon Gorglum & crew from 1927 till 1941. I find it funny that they call it sculpting when they used dynamite to do 90% of the work.

The Reptile Gardens where we saw an alligator/crocodile show, a snake show, and toured the world's largest collection of reptile species.

Bear Country USA which is a drive through game preserve. It's like Jurassic Park, only with bears and reindeer rather than T-Rexes and Triceratops. There's also an area with smaller animals in smaller enclosures. A couple of days before we got there a fox had managed to get into the otter enclosure and we got to watch several minutes of the otters chasing the fox away from their food.

Then back to Mt. Rushmore in the evening. They gave a presentation about the end of the Indian Wars, focusing on Wounded Knee. A very sad story with bad decisions all around. Then they lit up the mountain and asked all the veterans in the audience to come down and help retire the flag for the evening.

There were a lot of them. They took a microphone around and each person said their name and what part of the military they were from. Anna thought it was pretty cool that grandpa got to go up. I'm not sure she even knew that a long time ago he was in the Navy. They all got a standing ovation at the end of course.

So if you're keeping track, that was 4 major attractions/events in one day. The only saving grace was that Father-In-Law likes to read plaques and informational signs, so it was possible for Daughter and I to get ahead and get to the gift shop for our trinkets before being loaded up for the next agenda item.

When next we meet I think I can squeeze in a couple of day's worth of events as we reduced the number of things to do in a day after this.

p.s. clicking on any of those pictures will make them really big. I was shooting album quality rather than my usual blog quality photos.

03 October 2007

They're Badlands All Right

Just sit right back & you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip
That started in this cargo van from a little desert strip.
The mate was a tidy mother-in-law, The driver brave & sure.
Eight passengers set out that day for a three hour tour,
A three hour tour.

Well, anyhow, that's what it felt like at the time. I was sure that disaster was looming when I learned that there would be eight people and one vehicle. My in-laws are good people, but they're the kind of tourists who go somewhere, check it off their list, then move on to the next thing. And they'd already been to everywhere we were planning on going a couple of years ago.

Husband, Daughter and I landed in Rapid City, SD on Thursday around noon. The entire Colorado contingent was there to greet us. I think they had been waiting a good long time because we later heard about how my nephew, who's 3, kept going on the escalators over and over and over again. They were taking shifts with him. Anyhow, we all got in the van and took off for Wall.

They have a very famous drug store that pretty much covers an entire city block. We stopped there for lunch. As we ate our buffalo burgers we we able to look at the maps they had on the table and decide which parts of the store we wnated to check out after lunch. My first stop was the little area behind daughter's head in the photo. I picked up a couple of little trinkets, then went to move on to the next room. At this point I noticed that Father-In-Law was hanging out in front of the store. He was done and waiting for us so that we could leave. I think we explored about 1/20 of the store. Daughter was peeved of course because there were about 15 things she wanted to see, and we had no time. (Did I mention that there was only one vehicle for 8 people?)

So we climbed back in the van and headed to the Badlands. It's actually pretty cool. You're wandering around in the desert and, POOF, you're in these little canyons and mini-mountains. The view from the van windows was very nice as we drove through. At the posted speed limit. And didn't stop to check out any of the trails or scenic overlooks. Actually that's not true. We did stop once and took a couple of pictures.

But we did really go through the entire Badlands in about 1 hour. It may actually have been a good thing that we didn't get out and walk around much. At this particular area -> Daughter took off on a "trail" that wasn't really a trail. She didn't seem to notice that her little trail was headed for a cliff and that there were rattlesnake signs everywhere. Happily there were neither any falls, nor any envenomations, but it was not the only time during this trip that I threatened to leash her to my wrist with a 6 foot length of merino sock yarn.
We then headed to the hotel in Keystone to finish out the day. In order for you to have the right perspective you'll need to keep in mind as we go along that this is a seasonal tourist area, and the season was over about 3 weeks ago. A lot of the shops were closed, a lot of restaurants were closed, and the ones that were open all shut down at about 8:00. And as the weekend went on we discovered that the restaurants that were open were out of a lot of stuff, or just didn't have very good food.

Tomorrow we continue our Wild West travelogue and also answer the question, "Who is that guy, and why should we care?" For now, I have a house to clean.