Sunday, July 30, 2006


I finished the French press cozy, and we've already put it to use. Here are front and side views, and a close-up of the coffee mug motif:

Aesthetically, I'm not wild about how it pulls over the handle (the side view is not terribly attractive), but from a practical point of view, it's perfect. It pulls on and off easily, and the opening at the top means it can be used before the coffee is pressed, as well as after. I joked with my husband that I could design a fancy version with handle and spout flaps so you could pour while the cozy was still on, but realistically, it's not going to happen. This version is just too functional, and the cheesy little mugs with steam are really growing on me. I am not a crafty or artsy person (strange thing for a knitter to say, I know), and I was pretty pleased with my little mugs, which pretty much represent the peak of my artsy abilities. Sad, eh? I may put the mugs on coffee cup cozies as well. As soon as I finished the cozy and held it up to show my husband, I started laughing. "I made a hat for the French press!" I had just realized that :) I don't think I'll write up the pattern unless someone asks for it, since I'd want to make aesthetic changes if I were going to make it as a gift.

Other knitting: Still going on the lace knitting, and I'm seeing some progress. It's getting longer and longer. Rain, thank you for the thoughts on Christmas knitting. You're absolutely right. I figure this is probably the one year I get a Christmas "free pass" with the baby due in January. Hey, I'm working on giving people a grandchild/niece or nephew/cousin! And thank you, Stefaneener, I *am* making something pretty complicated all the time!

Reading: Sense and Sensibility. On another note, I watched the Keira Knightley version of Pride & Prejudice yesterday, and having just watching the Colin Firth one, it felt like it went at break-neck speed. Maybe I'm not that picky, but I kind of like it anyway. It's good for when you need a bit of P&P and don't have time for the real thing. And the poor young man playing Colin Firth kind of grew on me. I liked Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet and Judi Dench as Lady Catherine. Although, it bugs me that they have Lady Catherine show up in the middle of the night for her talk with Lizzy--I assume it's supposed to heighten the drama (come on, people, this is Jane Austen! We're not in it for the drama!), but I can't imagine that someone of Lady Catherine's status would really go off in the middle of the night. And the ending is a smidge cheesier than necessary.

Writing: Nothing new to report :(

Cooking: We ordered Chinese last night...does that count? The Weather Channel has us on a heat advisory until Wednesday! I had to double-check what day it was. Honestly. And the a/c is not working great...the maintenance guy says it needs to be cleaned. You couldn't check that when you did the whole freon thing??? Argh.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Little Side Project

I've thought a few times about instituting more "rules" about my blog, particularly about adding regular features like Booking Through Thursday, but I decided I like keeping this as a less structured journal. Sadly, that means I sometimes go a bit without posting, like when Morning Sickness II: The Revenge comes to a theater near me. I think I have that under control now, though, so here's something new.

I also keep saying that I will try to only work on my WIPs until they're all done before starting new projects. You should really just ignore me when I make such outrageous claims. I cast on for a little something a couple of days ago, and after two false starts (including one truly hideous color combination), I think I'm onto something. I'm not sure that anyone else will want to follow suit, but I'll post the pattern once it's done.

We like coffee very much, and for years, we have been using a tea towel to keep the coffee in the French press warm. My husband asked me if I might be able to make something to cover the French press, and since he rarely suggests knitting projects, I thought, sure! (This is our French press, by the way:)

I dithered around for a bit, trying to decide whether to make it more or less a big tube that would go around the whole thing, including the handle, or whether to make it a fancier, fitted affair with a strap going underneath the handle. After considering our probable usage of it, I decided it needed to be something we could just plop down over the top. I came up with this cheesy little coffee cup motif (you love the steam from the top of the cup, don't you?):

Here's the progress so far:

I hope to bust through this pretty quickly and have FO photos and a pattern up by the end of the weekend.

I've done a bit more on the Candle Flame Shawl, but it's not worth another progress photo. Thank you for the blocking tip, Abby! I'd only ever blocked wool and wool blends, so it's great to hear something that works on silk. I've taken a short break from Hourglass Sweater to let Holly catch up. I keep inadvertently stopping her progress with my bad math. The baby hat is still languishing, as is the baby blanket. You'd think I'd just knock off the baby hat to cross it off the list, wouldn't you? I mean, it can't take more than a couple of hours.

I've also been thinking about the fun of Christmas gifts. Last year, I started Christmas gifts in March, I think, and I made about a million. This was clearly insane, and I'm going lower-key this year. I'm strongly considering the fantastic coffee and can cozies posted by poops. Perhaps in coordinating colors for people. My husband is getting a pair of Gryffindor socks. And that's as far as I've gotten. I need to start a list and assess my yarn needs.

Oh, Matt and I hate grocery shopping, but Mirando loves when we go:

Reading: Tammy, I have to admit, I hated Pride & Prejudice when we had to read it in high school. I thought it was more boring than watching paint dry. Then I read Northanger Abbey for a college course, and breezed through the rest of her novels, and now I've read them more times than I can count! It definitely takes some getting used to, but I absolutely adore them now. I think it's great that so many of you love the P&P film right along with me! I'm currently reading Pride & Prejudice for the billionth time. I finished the Harry Potter series again, with a box of Kleenex for the last 50 pages of Half-Blood Prince. I want Book 7! Or at least a publication date...

Writing: Has taken a back seat this week to the morning sickness. I'll be happy to get back to it.

Cooking: I made yet more mint chip ice cream. This drives Matt nuts since we still have cherry buttermilk and blueberry cheesecake ice cream in the freezer, but that's fancy, serve-in-a-bowl ice cream. My mint chip is grab-the-container-and-a-spoon ice cream. Totally different things. I may actually make Stracciatella Gelato or Turtle Ice Cream while I have the 2% milk on hand and the interest in making them.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Keeps Going and Going and Going...

I had an extremely lazy Sunday yesterday. I really did watch the entire Pride & Prejudice and work on my shawl. It was fabulous. The shawl is starting to look more like a shawl and less like a book cozy :) I was just starting to wonder how I was going to block 100% silk when I set out the shawl for progress photos. See how the shawl is squinching in? It's not even close to the 16" finished width (if only I could remember to set out the tape measure when I take photos):

But lay it out horizontally, and it pulls itself down into a 16" width!

It looks like gravity might be my blocking strategy, since that's how I'll be wearing it anyway. The yarn is so slippery, I can't imagine it holding blocking, so it's good that the shawl wants to be the right size! I still love the pattern. I've really gotten into a groove with it. It's easy to read and repetitive. With 36 rows to a repeat, I certainly don't have it memorized, but it's familiar enough that I can just glance and the notecards and keep going.

Knitpastis, I'm feeling very well, thank you! The second trimester has started out nicely...maybe I should put up a progress bar on Butterbean. Except I only have 6 months to get the apartment in shape for the baby. Ack!

Reading: Order of the Phoenix. Also, listened to Twelve Sharp while knitting over the weekend. Does anyone else get attached to audio book readers? The older Stephanie Plum books have different readers than 7-12, and I like Lorelei King so much that listening to 1-6 takes some getting used to (plus, they're mostly only available abridged, which drives me nuts). The first three Thursday Next books had one reader, then the last one had a different person. Urgh.

Writing: Still futzing with the early chapters.

Cooking: Isn't the ice cream Cooking Light great, Lee? Although, the Strawberry Creme Fraiche and Black Currant Mascarpone sound awesome. I did make Black Cherry Buttermilk Ice Cream, which is based on a Cooking Light recipe. I suppose it's technically not ice cream, since it's made with buttermilk, but whatever it is, it's good. And really easy. I haven't tried the other Cooking Light recipes yet, but several sound lovely.

I also made brownies for a gathering we went to. I made Mint Buttercream Brownies. I have a mixed review of this recipe. The buttercream was fantastic, but I did not find the brownie part to be remotely "fudgy," as claimed, and not nearly chocolatey enough to go with the mint. But I like a dark chocolate/mint pairing best, so you may think it's perfect. I would definitely make these again using a different recipe for the brownie base. I'm posting "my" recipe for brownies, which I think would work, omitting the nuts. I also want to post a link to this brownie recipe from Godiva, which is amazing.

Fudgy Walnut Brownies

1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup Grand Marnier (or cognac or brandy or other flavored liqueur)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz. chocolate chips
3/4 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Mix butter and sugar well; add eggs, beating well. Add cocoa and Grand Marnier and blend well. Stir in flour and salt until well incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour into pan and bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack. Cut into 18-24 squares.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Can't talk...

...busy with lace knitting, Pride & Prejudice (yay, Colin Firth!), and a pot of Earl Grey. Back tomorrow with exciting progress photos, brownie recipes, and more!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A pinch of this, a dash of that

First, the promised kitty pictures. A box full of Mirando:

And Geronimo in his kitty bed, with his enormous paws that are too big to be in the bed:

Next, a gardening update. I did some replanting and "weeding." I put weeding in quotation marks because I'm not sure the mystery plants were weeds. The basil, AFTER I harvested 3/4 of a cup of leaves for pasta last night:

I left in the mystery plants with the basil since they're not in the way at the moment, and I'm really curious as to what they are. I ditched the cilantro and parsley, which refused to thrive. I re-potted the now-quite-large mint plant into the former cilantro pot:

Now the mint has room to grow and the cilantro doesn't mock me with its sad little leaves every time I look out on the porch.
And, left to right, the rosemary (which had decided to grow in with the tomato plant, through no effort of my own), the tomato plant, and the pepper (which I'm sure I need to thin out).

The rosemary and tomato were right next to each other, but the roots hadn't tangled together too badly, so I'm hoping the transplant was a success for both patients. I think I'll get the rosemary plant a friend at the farmer's market this weekend. Apparently, I am a green thumb when it comes to rosemary, since this is clearly thriving and I didn't even plant rosemary this year.

Yarnthrower, I was cracking up about your nonsensical shouting at the automated phone system. I will have to try that. As for computers, they're fantastic! Unless something goes wrong, and then they are absolutely horrible. I used to have whole days at work where, instead of doing actual work, I had to be on the phone to SBC, running all over the building unplugging routers and modems and restarting computers. Definitely not a timesaver in those abacus and a notebook would have been better :) I hope your technology problems resolve themselves soon.

Knitting: Woo! Yes, Lee, count me in for Stitches Midwest :) Fun, fun, fun! Not much progress to report, just a bit more on Hourglass. Marie, I'm hoping that line is less visible with blocking :) Stockinette wants so very badly to curl that even with the hem in place, it's trying to lean upward.

I've been, quite possibly, the WORST Amazing Lace contestant there is. I haven't done any of the challenges, I changed my project way past the last minute, and I only have 10" of lace. I blame Butterbean :) But, though it's past the deadline, here is my Challenge #4. I may try to go back and do a little something for challenges 1-3 this weekend.

Amazing Lace Challenge #4: The Early Bind-Off

If I bound off my project RIGHT NOW, it could clearly be used as a book cozy. See how well it warms Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?

Reading: Goblet of Fire (now extra-toasty).

Writing: Still in revision.

Cooking: Last night, I made improvisional Penne alla Vodka. It was amazing. I also made Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream from Cooking Light. I cut the recipe in half, as suggested for smaller countertop ice cream makers. It was a pain in the patoot. You have to cook two separate mixtures, cool them completely, then put them in the ice cream maker. It took forever and produced an unreasonable number of dirty pots and bowls. After about an hour or so, I was thinking, "There is no way ANY ice cream is worth this much effort." And then, it wouldn't thicken properly in the ice cream maker. Which I'm pretty sure is my fault. Either the mixture wasn't cold enough or when I subbed frozen blueberries for fresh, I should have thawed and drained them before cooking. It finally finished (way past my bedtime), and I called my husband in to help me. "Honey, can you take a few bites of this ice cream so I can fit the lid on the container?" Matt pronounced it "awesome" and expressed his opinion that several more bites might be needed to make the lid fit. I tried it, and it is sooooooo good. Probably worth all the effort. Very rich and creamy (and purple!), and LOWFAT. Unbelieveable.

Penne alla Vodka

1 pound penne, cooked according to package directions
1 TBL olive oil
1 TBL butter
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup vodka
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained well
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
3/4 cup basil, chopped
3/4 cup Parmagiano-Reggiano or Asiago cheese, grated

Heat oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pepper and garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add vodka, cook one minute. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste, cream, and olives. Bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and summer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in basil. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Toss pasta, cheese, and sauce thoroughly. Serve hot. Serves 6-8.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Look at me go!

So, some progress photos of Hourglass Sweater:

Here's the hem, which is a nice edge, I think.

And I'm pretty pleased with how neatly I sewed the hem (generally, my sewing is pretty tacky looking). Here's the wrong side:

And the Candle Flame Shawl:

It doesn't look that different from last time, but I love the pattern. So pretty. Mazhalai, I'm using a fingering weight yarn, and getting 5 inches per repeat, which is a total of 14 for the whole shawl. If you're using the Shimmer, it may have a different row gauge.

In other news, both the a/c and the internet are working. Apparently, our a/c unit was nearly out of freon, so they had to come recharge it, which is quite a long process. But it's fine now. Tim, Comcast sounds fabulous. The few times I've had to call Charter, it's been an ordeal. They do have an automated system, but most of the time it hangs up on you before you get to talk to a person. Whenever there's a big problem, it has a busy signal. I guess it's that or SBC around here, and SBC isn't any better.

Reading: Goblet of Fire.

Writing: Still at 28,000. I'm hung up on a chapter 4 scene at the moment.

Cooking: Ha! It's too darn hot. I think I may make Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream today, though.

Tomorrow: Kitty pictures!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

That's it, I'm getting a cabin in the woods...

Not really :) But sometimes technology is frustrating. Like the internet connection that broke yesterday. I spent an hour resetting, unplugging, and restarting things to be sure it wasn't on my end, because calling the ISP is a huge pain and I'd rather not. It wasn't. It was the delightful ISP, whose phone was busy for four hours as either a) everyone else in town called to find out why the internet was broken, or b) they unplugged the phone so as to avoid irate customers needing an email or stock quote fix. It was working again this morning, at least!

But wait, there's more! In the middle of the heat wave that started over the weekend, our air conditioning started to falter. I don't really feel like we're challenging it that much since we keep the thermostat on an energy-conserving 78 degrees, but it was only managing to keep the apartment at a sultry 84. Ugh. The maintenance guy is coming back today to do something to it, presumably with the filter, which our landlord has never had cleaned in the four years we've lived here.

But it's not all whining and complaining here. There's good stuff, too. We took refuge from the heat at a Sunday matinee of Pirates of the Caribbean 2. Arrrh! I've heard some criticism that it's too long, not as good as the first, blah, blah, but for my money, it was two and a half hours of swashbuckling fun! The Hourglass Sweater was perfect movie theater knitting (after we'd finished the popcorn, of course). And I can't wait to see the third one next May. Sure, there were some slightly cheesy villains (Hammerhead Guy, anyone?) and what is possibly one of the most un-PC portrayals of native islanders in history, but we didn't care. In other good news, I think the kitty acne is getting better, though catching Geronimo for twice-daily application of calendula is getting more challenging. He's too smart and quite good at hiding. And Geronimo has accepted the new water bowl, which makes us very happy.

Knitting: I finished another pattern repeat on the Candle Flame Shawl, which brings the length to 10" without any stretching. At this rate, I'll need 12 more repeats to make the 70" length, which seems very do-able. The lace pattern is very nice--interesting but not frustrating. It's pretty easy to read, which means I don't have to concentrate as hard. I also am up to the increases on Hourglass Sweater. When I got tired of knitting last night, I also (gulp) sewed down the hem. I hope I don't regret that later, but I really hate finishing, and if I can do some as I go along, I'm a much happier knitter. The curling edge was also getting on my nerves as I knit. The Jo Sharp DK wool is not the softest yarn around (though it softens with washing), but I think this will be a nice all-purpose kind of sweater.

Writing: 28,000 words. I finished introducing the new guy. I have a couple of brief scenes to add to carry the new subplots up to where I currently am in the book. Then, we're back to adding material.

Reading: Goblet of Fire.

Cooking: The mint chip ice cream has been very nice. I've also been on a smoothie kick (probably related to the a/c not working properly).

Berry Banana Smoothie

1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup frozen berries
1 banana
1 TBL honey
1/2 tsp vanilla

Chuck everything in the blender and puree!

This morning, I made one using orange juice and blueberries. It was thinner, more like slightly thickened juice. A little weird.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Back to the drawing board!

Well, the Indian Summer Shawl is no more, which I'm fine with. I was really only designing it because I couldn't find the "right" pattern for the Cherry Tree Hill Fingering Silk, and I did! I've started on the Candle Flame Shawl and I'm enjoying the pattern with this yarn. The pattern called for Shimmer, a lace weight yarn, on size 4 needles. I swatched up the Cherry Tree Hill on size 6, then 5, then ended up on size 4 because I didn't care for the floppy fabric on the larger needles. The Candle Flame pattern doesn't actually seem to have a guage, but it's 97 stitches wide and 16" wide finished, so that's about 6 stitches per inch, which is about what I'm getting. I've already done a whole pattern repeat (36 rows), so I'm not excited about ripping back and making it wider. I should have realized that 16" is a pretty narrow shawl. I'm doubt I have enough yarn to do that, anyway, and the narrow rectangle is kind of growing on me now. I wish patterns would always have a very clear shot of the model wearing the piece without reclining or hunching over or something. I assume in lace weight, the pattern would be more delicate, but I quite like it in this yarn:

Here's a closeup of the wrong side:

And of the right side:

I envy the knitters who can knit from a chart. Sadly, I cannot do this without major frustration and constant tinking. So, this is what I do:

I cut 4x6 notecards in quarters, punch a hole in the corner, and tie using a bit of my working yarn. I write out each row on a card. After I finish knitting a row, I turn to the next card. This keeps me from getting lost, and is a necessary part of lace knitting for me. However, with a 36 row pattern, it can get time consuming!

Thank you Rain, Annie, and Marie! I'm going with the bold red/orange look on the baby hat. Marie, the Rowanspun seems fine once it's knitted up. I can't really explain why that would be the case, but it works. The shawl I made from the 4-Ply is perfectly fine, even durable. It's just while knitting that there's a problem.

Reading: Goblet of Fire.

Writing: Same spot. Taking the hot weekend off :)

Cooking: I made ice cream! Mmmm. I went with Mint Chip because, when it really came down to it, the kind of ice cream I most felt like was the one with the least prep time and no cooking :) Here's the recipe:

Mint Chip Ice Cream (Low Fat Edition):

3 1/2 cups 2% milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tsp mint extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips or grated chocolate

Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips; stir well to combine. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to machine directions. After ice cream is beginning to thicken, add chocolate chips. Once ice cream is thickened, transfer to an airtight container in the freezer.

Notes: For the really good, yet not low-fat edition, use 2 cups of whipping cream and 2 cups 2% milk (or, cholesterol horrors! 2 cups whipping cream and 2 cups half-and-half). If you like, add a couple of drops red or green food coloring. Crushed Oreo cookies instead of chocolate chips are also nice. Enjoy!

Friday, July 14, 2006

And now for something completely different...

So, I'll start off with knitting stuff and warn you that the rest of the post may contain lengthy rambling about random topics, such as kitty acne and white chocolate M&Ms. So start here, and just stop when you get bored or perplexed :)

First, here is the start of the fluffy bunny hat to go with the Angora Baby Booties. I got one ball of Valeria di Roma Angora in each of five colors on sale at WEBS a while ago. The peach went to the Snow Queen Hat, the pink one went to Angora Baby Booties for a friend, and much of the red went to the recent baby booties. This leaves me with some red and whole balls of cream and orange. Yes, orange. And I mean REALLY orange. Traffic cone orange. Hey, it was angora and on sale, and it was an impulse buy, near the virtual register! Anyway, I certainly don't have enough red for a whole hat, even for a newborn head. I had an irrational fear that a cream and red hat would make my child look like either a pirate or Waldo (you know, as in Where's Waldo?, so I decided, perhaps rashly, that orange and red are right next to each other in the rainbow, so that'd work out fine. You guys are much more rational about color schemes than I am, so if you have thoughts about the red/orange combo, let me know. Is it hideous? Are my pirate fears unwarranted and I should use the cream? Should I alternate rows to make it look more integrated, or use a big stripe in the middle? I'm just winging it with a basic rolled-brim stockinette strategy, and I'll post the "pattern", such as it is, when I'm done. In fact, I may just call it Fluffy Bunny Hat. Here are the colors:

And here's Hourglass Sweater. I think it's my inherent avoidance of finishing, but I'm starting to think that instead of hemming, maybe the slight roll stopped by the "turning" row looks pretty nifty. I know, I'm awful. I will probably get lots done tonight, as we're going to a local baseball game. I'm not sure how this'll go for me...I'm not really "into" sports, per se. I enjoy going to Cubs games with my husband, and watching World Cup games and Chicago Fire (Major League Soccer) games. But that's pretty much it. But I'll have my knitting, so I should be fine.

Marie, I lurve the Eau de Nil Rowanspun (even if I've noticed I type it as Eau de Mil half the time. No idea what that would mean), and I hope I find the right project for it. Besides the thin fabric when I swatched (which, why the heck didn't I take a picture???), the main concern I have with it is how brittle it is. It breaks at the slightest provocation. I also got the Rowanspun DK in Mist, which is a grey with blue flecks. The weird thing is that the Eau de Nil seems much thinner and less soft and lofty (yeah, that's a technical term) than the Mist, but they should be the same. Weird. Maybe they'll be more alike knitted up. I also ended up with prodigious amounts of Rowanspun 4-Ply, some of which has already been made into a shawl (in Turkish, a purpley-blue and yes, lots of yarn breaking), and some of which I have no solid plans for (TWO bags of Lunar, a blue, and one of Siren, a red). I think much of the Rowanspun will end up doubled.

So, those of you hoping for an update on the kitty teeth brushing, we've put that on hold to deal with a different problem. When we took the boys to the vet, we asked her about a weird thing that's been going on with Geronimo's chin. It turns out he has kitty acne, possibly caused by the plastic water dish, which is apparently a bacteria farm, especially when your cats like to scratch the bejeezus out of it. So we needed to get a stainless steel water dish, and the vet told us to brew calendula tea and dab it on Geronimo's chin a few times a day (This is one of the things I like about our vet's office. Everything's not all about expensive medicine. The two vets are certified in naturopathy and homeopathy, and while they definitely are proficient in mainstream veterinary medicine, they often have herbal remedies, like the 20 cents worth of calendula flowers we got at the co-op instead of starting off with steroid medicine and its side effects.) And we replaced their reservoir dish with a stainless steel one. I should also tell you that we were stupid and left the old water dish up on the kitchen counter. This is how they responded. I wish I had taken pictures.

Mirando: Cautiously approaches the new water dish. Sniffs it thoroughly, pats it with his paw several times, sticks his face in and has a drink.

Geronimo: Cautiously approaches the new water dish. Sniffs it thoroughly. Runs out of the kitchen. Returns later to jump on the counter and meow at the old (empty) water dish. Oy. I finally got Geronimo to drink by scooping up water from the new dish with a measuring cup and pouring it back in. They both love running water sounds, so that got his interest. He's using it, but not happy about it yet.

Reading: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Writing: 28,000 words. Almost done with the revision. Just finishing up the new subplot/character I just added. He's cracking me up! Stefaneener, I have no immediate plans to write romance novels, but it's something I joke about with a friend of mine. I'm barely making it through the flirting scenes in my murder mystery right now...not sure I could pull off a "romance" scene :) I love Mrs. Bing's romance writing advice on Friends: "Oh, please, honey, listen, if I can do it, anybody can. You just start with half a dozen European cities, throw in thirty euphemisms for male genitalia, and bam! You have got yourself a book." Eh, I have the murder mystery, then the Real Novel, then three children's books...maybe after those :) It seems a pity to waste the awesome pen name...

Cooking: Okay, I haven't been cooking. It's too hot. I have great plans for homemade ice cream this weekend, though. I'm deciding between Turtle, Mint Chip, Peanut Butter Swirl, and Blueberry Cheesecake. Let me know which one you think I should make, and you can come over and share it. And if you're across the ocean or something, I will post the recipe instead! If only I were one of those clever bloggers who runs a contest and does a drawing and actually sends the winner a prize...but I post dessert recipes--that's just as fun, right?

This isn't cooking related, but I was suckered into buying some White Chocolate M&Ms by their clever Pirates of the Caribbean tie-in packaging. I like peanut, peanut butter, and crispy, so it's not that I'm averse to change, but I'm not sure about them. They're really, REALLY sweet. I think the candy shell needs the contrast of the semi-sweet chocolate. I like a bit of Lindt or Godiva white chocolate from time to time, but mostly I'm a dark chocolate person. They do, however, have little pirate symbols on lots of the M&Ms; a ship with an M in its sail, a skull (sans crossbones), swords, a spyglass. I think they're pretty cute, but I had no idea pirates were so into pastels. They're aqua, yellow, white, and peach. Doesn't seem very "Argh. Ahoy, you mateys" to me, but I assume the M&Ms folks had their reasons. Maybe they're meant to be "Caribbean" colors? I was also disappointed that there was no instant-win opportunity. I mean, I never win anything from those, but it's nice just to get the little "Sorry you are not a winner" card in the bag, or better still, the code you put into their web page to find out you didn't win. Just to make this even more irrelevant, we had special M&Ms made for our wedding favors. Our colors were burgundy and silver, so we ordered burgundy and silver M&Ms and tied them up in netting. You can have a pretty entertaining time making your own color combinationshere, and I guess you can now get them specially printed, too. Sadly, M&Ms/Mars is not paying me for my endorsement :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What's in a name?

After reading String Bean's post, I decided I was tagged with this name meme.

(grandfather/grandmother on your father's side, your favorite sweet/lolly):

Lee Truffle

(first initial of first name followed by "izzle", first two or three letters of your last name followed by "dizzle"):

Allizzle Cadizzle (I didn't think Aizzle really worked...unless it's A-izzle, with the emphasis on 'iz')

(favourite color, favourite animal):

Sky Tiger (I like otters quite a lot, but seems too wimpy for a detective)

(first 3 letters of your name- last 3 letters of mother's maiden name, first 3 letters of your pet's name repeated twice):

All-ppa GerGer (sounds more Star Wars than MirMir)

("The", your favourite color, the automobile you drive):

The Cerulean Mustang (although, to be honest, I'm The Cerulean Two Feet most of the time)

(middle name, street you grew up on)

Marie Beau Monde (is that not the best romance novelist name? Don't even try to steal it!)

If you're reading, consider yourself tagged.

Knitting: Still on the Hourglass Sweater. Also a little fuzzy angora hat to go with yesterday's booties. Rachel, I love your headband suggestion for my shawl :) I think I'll save it as a last resort, though!

Reading: Prisoner of Azkaban.

Writing: Working on adding a character back in chapter 3 today. It's going well. He sure is obnoxious, though, and I think people will secretly hope he gets bumped off :)

Cooking: I have been LAME about cooking lately. Last night, I had an Amy's frozen meal. We're going to the grocery store today, though. Funny grocery store habit: if I want something unreasonable or unusual, I make sure to put it on the list. Then when we're at the store and I say, "Okay, next is orange juice, M&Ms, and frozen peas", Matt says, "M&Ms????", and I show him it's on the list. That seems to make it acceptable.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fast Food Knitting

Ninety minutes. Eensy ball of angora. Adorable FO:

Yes, those are the Angora Baby Booties from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, in Valeria di Roma Angora. It's such a cute, quick project, and the construction is ingenious. For those keeping score, they DO NOT go with the polo, so I will have to make another baby sweater. Darn :)

Edited to add: I would think that the dyeing process and such would have taken the bunny smell out of this yarn, but it drives Mirando bonkers. The cats never care about my knitting, but every time I have this stuff in my knitting bag and leave it unattended, Mirando dips in a paw and runs off with a ball of angora in his mouth. He even does the little killing shake they do. Matt thinks this is hilarious, especially when he runs off with yarn trailing behind him, and me running after yelling, "No! Not Mommy's angora!"

Thank you to everyone for your nice thoughts on Butterbean and the polo! Rachel, hubby is very cool that way--I would have understood if he really didn't like the pink stripe for a boy (though now I have Stefaneener's argument that pink used to be a boy color!), but he didn't care. Apparently, when I was seven and my brother was a baby, I used to dress him up in all sorts of girly stuff, and he turned out okay :)

I got a few rows done on the Hourglass Sweater last night before knocking off the baby booties. Which, seriously, are worth getting that book for. Though I've made more projects from that book than any other I have...the booties (twice), the Zipped Raglan (twice), Child's Placket-Neck Pullover (uh...five, six times), and now the Hourglass Sweater. A fair amount of errata, as seems to be the way with knitting books these days.

In other knitting news, the Indian Summer Shawl may never happen. This is what it looked like when I abandoned it months ago:

Very 1970s afghan, no? The feather and fan thing I was trying is not making me happy. I think it's the yarn, which is glorious, but not in garter stitch. I was looking for another lace pattern, and thinking I might not have the energy to design it myself anymore, when I came across this pattern, which I think might highlight the yarn nicely. It's written for lace weight, but no matter. There are a couple other patterns I have as backup in case this one looks funny, but I think it might be the way to go. I'm going to swatch with it and see how it looks.

Reading: Prisoner of Azkaban.

Writing: You remember the tricky revision I mentioned yesterday? Ha! I fixed it today. It was easier than I thought, and I only had to add one brief scene. I have one more scene to add for another subplot, then I think I can cruise back up and start chapter 7. The tricky bit about adding a character or subplot is making sure to carry it all the way back through the narrative, so I have to be sure to check on that before I go back to chapter 7.

Cooking: Not a thing. My basil is doing so well I could harvest some, but I haven't felt like cooking.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I guess we'll go golfing...

Hey, I finished something! Woo woo! I don't even want to go back and see how long it's been since I finished something. Here is the elegantly named Simple Top and Socks With Contrast Stripe from Debbie Bliss Easy Knits (just rolls off the tongue). I think Baby's First Golf Shirt might be a catchier name. I did not make the matching socks, though I have yarn left and might eventually do so.

I'm not sure the jaunty mismatched button thing is working for me. I think it would be cute if there were three, but with two, it just looks like I picked out the buttons in the dark, so I will probably change them. I like the cute little polo collar (which felt like it took forever) on this one, and I'm pretty happy with my color choices. They look pretty accurate on my monitor. The pink is just a light pink and the blue is a dark purple-blue. I like the contrast, and I feel like it's a little unusual.

Edited to add: Oh, the blue is Debbie Bliss Wool Cotton and the pink is Rowan Wool Cotton. I can't really tell the difference between them.

So, this sweater is designed to go with my big project, which I've been calling Butterbean, and for which I will not be posting a pattern :) Butterbean is due to arrive January 18 (plus or minus a couple of weeks). I asked my husband if the pink trim on the sweater would offend him if Butterbean turns out to be a boy, but he thought it'd be fine. So those of you wondering why the inconsistent posting in May and June, there you go! Both knitting and looking at the computer monitor made me nauseated, and I was just so darn tired. I'm feeling pretty good now, though, and wanting to knit more stuff for the baby, so I should be better about my posting.

But this is for me:

This is the Hourglass Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Look for a pair of angora baby booties here sometime soon :) My friend Holly decided to make this, and as soon as she told me, I thought "Hey, that's what I want to make!" so I'm jumping on her bandwagon and making her do a knitalong with me. I dug through the stash for this. I first picked out Rowanspun DK in Eau de Mil (a lovely nubby greeny blue color), but when I swatched it up, it was a very thin, see-through fabric. I like the yarn, just not for this project. Next up was Jo Sharp DK Wool in Seashell. When I got two bags of this on sale at WEBS, I thought, "Ooh, Seashell...sounds like a lovely pale, pearly pink." Not so much. It's pretty much...tan. The color has grown on me, though. After the Debbie Bliss pattern, size 7 needles feel gigantic! Now, why am I making a sweater that I won't fit into when it's finally cold enough to wear it? Well, I figure I can wear it after Butterbean appears, and since I'm in Wisconsin, I'll still have four months of use during the season.

I know I have a million projects over on the sidebar, and I'll get back to them. I still have an aversion to the baby blanket I was designing, since that's what I was knitting with morning sickness when I realized that knitting made it worse. But I want to post the pattern and see how it turns out, so I'll get to it. I also want to finish my Indian Summer Shawl before it starts to get chilly here. This week, I may also go through and make a Christmas gift list of knitting.

Writing: I took yesterday off. Today I'm working on a tricky revision, sort of turning one chapter into two chapters. Lots of avoiding repetition. I'm at 27,000 words.

Reading: Still on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Hey, I got really excited when re-reading this because there's a reference to the Vanishing Cabinet. When Harry is in Filch's office, Nearly Headless Nick gets Peeves to drop a cabinet, which sends Filch out of the office. When Filch comes back in, he says something like, "That was a very valuable vanishing cabinet." My husband was not as impressed, since it's not like it's important in book 2. But I like how cohesive Rowling's story is. Things show up in book 2 that you don't realize are important until 4 books later. Cool.

Cooking: It's been too hot again. I have an eggplant I've been meaning to roast, but it's too hot even in the morning to have the oven on.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Kitty Adventures

So, a year ago, when we took the cats to the vet, she told us to start brushing their teeth. We laughed and laughed, but bought a kitty toothbrush and toothpaste. A year later, we still had not worked up the courage to try the brushing, but at this year's vet visit, she brought it up again (and also wants us to have their teeth professionally cleaned...for $200...per cat!), so we decided to suck it up and give it a try. It started out okay--Matt put a little toothpaste on his finger for Mirando to try, and he loved it. So then we put toothpaste on the brush, and he started licking that. But then we tried to open his mouth and brush his teeth, and he backed up and started swiping at us. Geronimo, sensing something unpleasant was up, hightailed it under the bed. He is just too smart. So, we're trying again tomorrow. Fun, huh? Never a dull moment around here.

Speaking of kitty adventures, the guys had a great catfit/play fight last night. There's never any of the yowling you associate with cat fights--they're completely quiet. They tear around the apartment and pounce on each other. Every once in a while, one of them gets a claw stuck in the other's head, and there are sounds of protest as the claw is tugged free, but they aren't trying to hurt each other. But there's often flank-biting and such, and last night we noticed this:

Mirando has a big tuft of Geronimo's undercoat fur hanging out the side of his mouth!

Last night we went to a Laotian restaurant. If you're in Madison, it's Lao Laan Xang. You could order everything with a spiciness level of one to five stars. One was timid, two was careful, three was adventurous, and five was Native Lao. There was no four :) I think they were trying to make sure no one who couldn't handle it got a five! I like spicy food, so I went with the Tofu in Spicy Peanut Sauce with three stars. It was fantastic, and a lot like Thai food. Also, nice and sinus clearing. And mmm...spring rolls and Thai iced tea. They do a good job of making it clear what on the menu is vegetarian, too, often a problem for me in Thai restaurants due to the abundance of fish stock, fish paste, oyster sauce, and such. Matt had Shrimp Mango Curry with two stars and really liked it.

Knitting: The end of the sleeves is in sight! Only about a half inch left, then the seaming and the button band and collar. Rain--heh heh. Colin Firth will have to wait till tomorrow. I didn't have time today. We have a barbecue to go to at 4:00, and Monsters, Inc. was on television. We love that movie.

Writing: I did some tinkering out on the porch this morning, and I now have six chapters. I have one more scene to write, and a major change to chapter 3, then I can keep moving forward. It is SO MUCH FUN to write a murder mystery. Even when I have tricky revision to do, or have to go back and add in scenes, it's a really enjoyable experience.

Reading: Still on Harry Potter! Reading book 2 again in light of what you find out in book 6 is pretty cool.

Cooking: I made the fantastic French toast again this morning, and we ate out on the porch. That stuff is so good.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Goober peas!

We went to the Cubs-Brewers game last night, which was lots of fun, except for the part where the Cubs lost. The game was in Milwaukee, which is close enough to Chicago that the fans were about evenly divided over their allegiances. After a hellish drive there (worst traffic I've seen outside of LA), and walking twelve miles to the stadium from our parking space (okay, okay, that might be a slight exaggeration), we had a great time. Baseball is fun. We were on something called the Dew Deck on right field, because this was a Carthage College event, and we made it in time to eat at the (free!) buffet. A baseball park buffet in Wisconsin for me means a hamburger bun with lettuce, tomato, and a slice of cheese, but that was fine. My husband got me a bag of peanuts and one of those little sundaes that comes in a baseball helmet to round out the meal. I still have some peanuts left, and I had some as a snack today. I love ballpark peanuts. I think it's genetic. My mom used to send us to a baseball game with my dad and ask that we bring her back a bag. She didn't want to see the game, just to have the peanuts later. Due to a third grade book report on a biography of George Washington Carver, I know lots of random things about peanuts, like how they're not actually nuts, but members of the pea family that grow under the soil. Isn't it funny what you remember from childhood?

Stefaneener, thank you for the mint info! It didn't look at all like the mint I have going, but I was thinking maybe it was a different variety, but the stem is quite round, so that's not it. The leaves and stem are a little fuzzy. I've been wracking my brain for what I might have planted there in the last few years. We do have a lot of birds come to our porch (birdfeeders=cheap cat entertainment), so I wonder if one of them could have dropped (or pooped) a seed. I can't think of anything I've planted that looks like this.

Knitting: I got a bit of work done on the baby sweater last night, but we arrived later than expected with the traffic and there was all the peanut and ice cream eating that took up time. I think tomorrow I'll watch the BBC Pride & Prejudice and try to get those sleeves done. Then I am starting the Hourglass Sweater. Except I have to wind the yarn first.

Writing: Ha! I actually have good writing news to report. I am up to 26,500 words. I added in a scene to Chapter 2 to introduce a subplot that I have to carry up to Chapter 6. I'm sort of conflicted about the other subplot now. I'm deciding if it's too much going on. And I got so excited about adding this one subplot in, I totally forgot about it, so I'll have to go back. Argh. Well, at least I have progress to report, and having too many ideas is a fine problem to have. It's far worse to wonder, "What am I going to do now?" I already have ideas I've been jotting down for sequels.

Reading: Welcome, Stephanie, and all fellow Harry Potter addicts! I have to admit that I have the American and British versions of all the books. And the first two in Italian. And a Gringotts coin bank. And Gryffindor tower bookends. And all the movies. I have mentioned before that I am a big nerd, so I'm okay with telling you all this. I am now on book 2 again(British version). Rain, I hope she doesn't kill off Harry. I've always thought she was kidding about that. And after book 6, I'm nervous about who else she'll kill off... I think I'll need a pint of the good ice cream for after I finish book 7. I can't believe that's the last one.

Cooking: I made nice pasta salad today. My pasta salad is usually a pretty thrown-together affair. I like lots of veggies in it. I change the kind of cheese, dressing, and veggies all the time.

Whatever's in the Fridge Pasta Salad

4 oz. rotini
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 cup chickpeas
2 TBL sliced black olives
2 TBL light ranch dressing
1/4 cup 2% shredded Colby-Jack cheese
1 TBL grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil. Add pasta and zucchini. Cook according to pasta package directions, adding peas 5 minutes before end of cooking time. Drain and rinse under cold water in a strainer until cool. Drain well. Pour into a bowl and add remaining ingredients. Toss well. Feeds one very hungry person or two as a side dish. People less into veggies may want to make this for a crowd with a pound of rotini and not doubling the veggies.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

How My Garden Grows...

In hopes that this isn't the most boring post ever, here's my little downtown garden:

The basil is thriving (looks much nicer with the additional basil plants I added yesterday). From left to right, we have cilantro (doing okay, but did not benefit from a hot weekend when we were out of town), mint, basil (with mystery plant), parsley (with mystery plant), tomato (with inexplicable rosemary), and pepper (not thriving).

This is the tomato plant with bonus rosemary. Notice how everything's squished into one small corner. I am the best gardener ever! Knitpastis, I'm glad to hear I'm not the only person with gardening challenges :) Marie, I think the rosemary at least can be explained by my re-use of potting soil. After everything dies in the winter, I just leave the pots out on the porch. Then in spring, I turn under the soil and re-plant. At some point, I did have rosemary growing (maybe 2 years ago?), so that's probably where it came from.

I'm not sure what this is, growing with the parsley growing BETTER than the parsley, actually. Kind of fuzzy leaves. Maybe mint?

Knitting: Still on the baby sweater sleeves. Rain, I have been in denial about the button band and collar I have to do after the sleeves are done and it's seamed :) Ugh. Button bands. Even better, my decision to not adapt this for knitting in the round means loads of fun seaming, too! I imagine I'll get a fair amount done at the game tonight.

Writing: Urgh. Not much.


Me: Hi, my name is Allison, and I am a Harry Potter addict.
Group: Hi, Allison!

Yes, I'm re-reading the Harry Potter books again. I just can't help myself. And...another year till book 7? Augh!

Cooking: I made the Arugula Pesto recipe with spinach and walnuts. It was better with arugula, but still pretty good with spinach.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

If you were a tank top...

I'd be done right now! I finished the front of the baby sweater, and I'm working on the sleeves. I always forget how much time the sleeves take. "Oh, I just have the sleeves left!" I say breezily, as if I'll be done any minute. Mmmhmmm. But I'm on the home stretch (do the UKers get that reference?), and expect to finish soon. We're going to the Cubs game in Milwaukee tomorrow, so that might be a good time to finish.

Well, you've already seen my workspace, complete with helpful cats. Here's Matt's desk:

Reading: Finished The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore. It was nuts, as expected. He's such a crackup. I wonder what it must be like in his brain.

Writing: Not much to report. Still revising, but slowly.

Cooking: After missing the good stuff at the Saturday market, I had a very good Wednesday market today. Pattypan squash, yellow and green zucchini, beets, and some lovely raspberries. And two basil plants. My window box of basil is finally thriving, but there was a large gap where none of the seeds had sprouted, so I tucked in the plants. Looks great! Next year, I am growing herbs from plants, not seeds. Did I mention that most of my plants have other stuff growing with them? My tomato plant has rosemary (which I didn't even plant this year) doing rather well, and there are mystery plants in with the parsley, cilantro, and basil. Weird. Whatever's in with the parsley is out-growing the parsley, too.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Adds Panache To Any Room!

Pictured above: Cat Throw Rug in Stripey Orange. Available only in the summer months. Call 1-800-4PANACHE.

You will notice the small black furry thing in the frame. This is one of the boys' furry mice. You may notice that it does not have a tail. Why? you might be wondering. Our cats like to pin down the mice and chew off their tails. Isn't that disturbing? While Matt and I were in California, the boys stayed with Matt's parents. And Geronimo caught a mouse on the porch. A real one. Dispatched it pretty quickly, apparently, and ran down to the basement with it. My mother-in-law noticed that Geronimo was acting oddly, moving from hiding spot to hiding spot behind furniture, and got my father-in-law to relieve Geronimo of his prey. No one saw the actual capture, though. Later, Geronimo and his cousin Hektor (actually, his uncle, I think, since Hektor belongs to my mother-in-law) were seen in a particular location on the porch, staring intently at the wall.

In other Cat Adventures, Mirando hangs out on top of the tall dresser.

This dresser must be 4, 4.5 feet high. Mirando gets up there by: 1. Hopping from the bed to the desk. 2. Hopping from the desk to the windowsill. 3. Hopping up to the dresser. Then he jumps back down directly from the dresser to the bed, from a height of 4, 4.5 feet and over a 2-foot gap. First, he usually changes the time on the alarm clock to Mirando Standard Time. Pretty impressive, isn't it? He's always very proud of himself after he jumps down.

Edited to add: Marie, I think the Las Vegas flight the pilot was on was delayed and the LA people didn't notice that it hadn't come in yet. Still pretty unbelievable :) Did you get a bunch of Rowanspun at WEBS? I have bags and bags of it, too!

Knitting: Back almost to where I was on the baby sweater. Thank goodness it wasn't a bigger project (like the T-Twist, which I STILL haven't frogged.) I'm caught up on my blog reading (I think), and I'm noticing that while I was gone, everyone decided to make the flower washcloths from Weekend Knitting. Now I really want to make some, too!

Writing: Still revising.

Reading: Cat in a Hot Pink Pursuit by Carole Nelson Douglas. It was an impulse buy at Barnes & Noble--I loved the title (which, at the time, I read as Cat in a Hot Pink Pantsuit, which doesn't make any sense, but I thought it was hilarious. Hey, the title's in fancy script. Hard to read). It's apparently the 17th title in a mystery series. I have no problem with cats solving crimes (I have all those Rita Mae Brown/Sneaky Pie Brown books), but I'm having trouble with this one. Usually, you can jump into a series at any point and not feel completely lost. This one started out with five pages written by the cat, Midnight Louie, summarizing a whole bunch of stuff from the previous books. It didn't make that much sense, and I really didn't remember any of it. I'm getting a lot of entries to add to my What Not To Do In My Mystery Series List (not a real list--how scary would that be?): 1. Have your protagonist show up BEFORE chapter 4. 2. Don't have every paragraph include an unnecessary reference to past crimes solved. 3. If you're going to have a weird mystical magician part, ease the reader into it. Don't just start talking about some group called the Synth and their powers in chapter 3. 4. Maybe cozy mysteries shouldn't be 440 pages long--ask your editor! 5. Don't take 100 pages to get to the setting of the book (yeesh!). Anyway, the premise is interesting enough for me to slog through the first rambling, disjointed part. Temple (and her cat) is going undercover on the show Teen Idol, a reality show that has all the contestants holed up in a mansion for two weeks during the competition. Can I just say how irritating that American Idol guy is who sings on the Ford commercials? He's up there with Taco Bell commercials. Seriously. I don't actually watch reality TV, and I had no idea who that guy was until my little brother told me that he was on American Idol and was supposedly my age, which I find hard to believe unless he's majorly prematurely grey. My husband and I did watch the first Joe Millionaire (I still feel guilty about that), because it was on after something we usually watched and we got sucked in. But no Survivor, no American Idol, no People Eat Bugs (otherwise known as Fear Factor). I'm not sure if the people on the shows are being exploited, or if they just want their 15 minutes of fame so much it's worth the embarassment. They are, after all, adults, which is why the Teen Idol show in the book is extra disturbing--stage parents. And I guess if people want to eat bugs on TV, there's no reason to protect them from themselves. But isn't it a little sad when someone thinks they can sing, and they go on TV and people make fun of them? I don't know. It might be that my mom always roots for the underdog, and was the one yelling "Good try!" at my brother's Little League games when the more intense parents were booing some poor eight-year-old who couldn't catch the ball, and she never ever rubbernecks past a car accident. Or, more likely, maybe I'm just overthinking what's meant to be popcorn entertainment. Note: I know lots of lovely people who watch this stuff, so I'm not judging. It's just not my cup of tea. Oh, and I promise not to start a pop culture critique section of this blog. My Inner Philosophy Major gets carried away sometimes.

Cooking: Are you kidding? It's too hot. And the Farmer's Market was out of berries and squash by the time I got there :(

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Blogger says no photos today :) I realized I forgot to share the story of my flight home from California. It wasn't funny at the time, but now it's slightly amusing, I think. So, I'm waiting in LAX for my flight to Chicago, which was supposed to board at 5:35 pm and leave at 6:05. Around 5:00, they make the announcement that our plane won't be in LA until 5:33, which puts a crimp in the boarding plans, since they have to get the people off the plane and clean it. They promise to make up time in the air. Okay, whatever, I go back to my book. About half the people waiting head for Starbucks. The other half head for McDonald's. We board the plane at 5:45, no problem. Once we're all on board, we sit there for a few minutes before the flight attendant makes the announcement, "The pilot is in Las Vegas, and won't be here until 6:45. Please go back to the waiting area, and we'll announce when it's time to re-board." Okay, so they JUST noticed that we don't have anyone to fly the plane? Yes, that's exactly the kind of attention to detail I look for in people responsible for moving me across the country at 30,000 feet. We all get off the plane. The people who'd headed for Starbucks before now head for McDonald's, and vice versa. Was this all a plot to boost concession sales? We ended up leaving an hour late. But, hey, at least they got us a plane AND someone to fly it, all at the same time. Impressive, huh?

Knitting: So, I made progress on the baby sweater, but realized after four more inches that I had divided for the neck 3 inches early, so I had to rip back. Argh. So, here that goes again.

Writing: Not much this weekend.

Reading: I just finished We'll Always Have Parrots by Donna Andrews. It didn't grab me as much as the earlier books in the series. Maybe it's the setting, a fan convention for a sci fi television show, that meant less of Meg's crazy family. Speaking of fan conventions, I have to recommend Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb. It's not what you think from the title! It's about an engineering professor who authored a hard science fiction novel that the publisher decided to market with the lurid title Bimbos of the Death Sun and a cover featuring a scantily clad woman. Jay is very happy he wrote under a pseudonym and has managed to keep his author alter-ego a secret from the university. He's asked to attend a sci fi fan convention. A murder mystery ensues, but the best part is McCrumb's gentle but comedic portrayal of the many types of sci fi fans. It's a really funny little book, and also has a sequel, Zombies of the Gene Pool.

Cooking: This morning, I used homemade Cinnamon Raisin Bread to make the best French toast ever. I used three large bread machine slices instead of 6 regular slices, which just about used up the egg mixture. I could have used about half the sugar, though. I made this on my pancake griddle, which held all three slices at once. I substituted cinnamon for the nutmeg and added a splash of vanilla. It was. So good. Try it!