Friday, March 31, 2006


(That's "Works in Progress" to the non-knitters)

(click for bigger picture)

From L to R (well, bottom left to top right):
  • 2 squares of a mitered square bag in Manos del Uruguay wool "Sage" (it needs to be about 18 squares, plus a bottom, the two skinny sides, and a strap);
  • A mini-Clapotis in some dye-your-own from Knitpicks;
  • A My So-Called Scarf in Caron Simply Soft (which I tend to not work on because I'm becoming a yarn snob and I don't really like how the yarn feels).
Thanks to Elspeth for the "WIP it out" idea! Looks like there are a bunch of Knittyboard folks doing this. :)

My Flash Your Stash pictures are done, now I just need to write the post.

For those who missed them...

NBC has posted all of the fake Office PSA's that aired last night, plus a whole bunch of other ones that are web exclusives. They'll probably turn up on Youtube or Google Video eventually, and then NBC will threaten legal action and whoever posted them will take them down. Good times.

NBC - The Office "The More You Know" PSA's

I might do a WIP post later. Seems to be the "in" thing to do today. :)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I actually knit sometimes, I swear

Oh my goodness, how much am I loving the fake "The More You Know" spots done by The Office cast? Dwight's "How to survive a bear attack" one had me in hysterics.

I should have an actual FO in the next couple of days. I know, kind of shocking. It's a scarf that I've been working on... no, not the one listed in my "what I'm working on" list over in yonder sidebar. I'm not so great about keeping that updated. Anyway, it's a scarf that I'm going to keep knitting until I run out of yarn, which will happen soon. Then I need to block (it's lace-ish, so I'm definitely blocking it), and THEN I can take pictures of it in all its fabulously technicolored mohair glory.

This post over at Slashfood about foods they hope to never find in their pantry makes me laugh. They're doing a whole series of posts about cleaning out one's pantry, how to restock it after cleaning, etc. Anyway, I am proud to say that I do not have ANY of these items in my pantry. Not even boxed mac & cheese, which I do get an occasional craving for every few months. My college taste buds kick in every once in a while, and I absolutely must have ramen noodles or boxed mac & cheese.

Speaking of things I used to eat in college: As you may or may not know, I used to live in Richmond, home of the best supermarket chain in the world, Ukrop's. Some of their stores had a made-to-order "grill" section, which provided many a meal for me over the years. And while I got burgers and other sandwiches from time to time, I was absolutely addicted to their fried rice. Anyway, nowadays I can't get Ukrop's fried rice without a 3-hour drive. I'd just get Chinese restaurant fried rice, but it's not quite right; the flavor isn't the same, and it's almost always too greasy. So, since moving, I've been periodically experimenting to try to come up with my own Ukrop's fried rice recipe, but there was always a flavor that eluded me.

Until tonight.


Success!!! *Happy fried rice dance*

Friday, March 24, 2006

Random post, possibly influenced by wine

Didn't the Gonzaga game last night make you want to cry? True, they blew their own huge lead and can't blame anyone but themselves, but that was so painful. The Villanova/BC game is on now. Ah, Villanova. Scaring fans as only they know how. UR (my alma mater) is also a scary team to watch, but when they get scary and can't get shots to go in, they lose. Period. Villanova somehow wins, but they make it LOOK like they're going to lose -- that's worse. My father is a Villanova grad, and right now, he and my mother are in Istanbul, Turkey... I'll be text-messaging them the day's scores later, and I hope I have good news for them.

Why are my parents in Turkey, you ask? There's a total solar eclipse next week, and the path of totality goes over parts of Turkey. Yes, my parents went to Turkey to see a solar eclipse. How much do I love that?

Wait, it's not all basketball and eclipses. Yesterday, I went to my second knitting group meeting. They're a fun group; lots of different skill levels, and a lot of gabbing. The two meetings I've been to have been great, and this week, I came away with 3 skeins of Wool in the Woods "Willow Hill" (a bulky wool/alpaca blend) that one of the women had bought and wasn't going to be able to use. If you know me, you know that Wool in the Woods is my favorite yarn company, so I'm all kinds of happy about this. I think I have two different colorways of the Willow Hill; two skeins are more dark blue and purple, and the other has maroon and green. I think they'll work well together. I'm rinsing them right now, because it feels like there's some residue on them, but once they're dry, there will be pictures. I'm thinking this might be good yarn for a Cinxia or some kind of short jacket like that.

At this meeting, I also had the first cup of coffee that I've had in almost 2 years... hello, twitchy Jen. Despite twitchiness, I highly recommend the Marble Mocha Macchiato at Starbucks/Barnes & Noble. Very yummy, and fun to say 5 times fast.

Back to basketball. Can I just say, THANK GOD I have 2 CBS affiliates here. The Baltimore one seems to actually be showing the Villanova game, while the DC affiliate is showing the GMU/Wichita State game. I know that it's tough for CBS to juggle multiple games happening at the same time, but it's ridiculous to me that they'd cut away from a game where there's only a one-point lead to one where there's a 19-point lead. GMU's local, so good for them for doing well, but it's boring to watch when a team has a lead like that. Given a choice, I want to watch the interesting game, not the blowout. Of course, it's bad for one's blood pressure to watch Villanova, so there are pros and cons either way.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

New yarn, an old FO, and a used sewing machine

Well, I went to Woolwinders on Sunday, and it's a place that DEFINITELY will need a return visit or 10. Great store, friendly people, free wine to enhance the shopping experience. :) Here's the pretty stuff that came home with me:

A skein of Blue Heron Petite Rayon Ric Rac in "Fall".

3 balls of Rowan Cotton Tape in 558 "Sunburst" (aka Radioactive Orange).

I was just going to get the Blue Heron yarn, but I kept going back over to this stuff. This color, specifically. After picking it up and putting it back about 5 times, I decided to just get it (orange was included in the St. Patrick's Day 15% off sale, after all).

So, yesterday, I was going through my closet looking for something to wear to work, and came across an FO that I had pretty much forgotten about:

It's a cowl that I made shortly after discovering yarnovers. (I think "cowl" is the right term... a short scarf that's sewn up into a circle, and you wear it around your neck? Cowl, yes? I feel like there's another word that I can't think of for the life of me.) It's Wool in the Woods Double Kiss in "Oslo" and some black TLC Cotton Plus. It served as my scarf yesterday. :)

I have recently laid claim to my mother's sewing machine. She's had the thing for as long as I can remember, and has used it... almost never, I think? She herself admits that she had all these grand ideas about learning how to sew, and then never sewed anything. Back in January, she told me she was getting rid of the machine because it was just taking up room in her closet, and thought that I might want it because I do craft stuff. Heck, yeah, I'll take a sewing machine. I got it back here after my visit there a couple of weeks ago, and I had to laugh when I saw that the bobbin thread left in the machine was some royal blue thread from the last time I used it (back in high school). When I say my mother never used it, I mean it. This bobbin thread has been in there for 10 years. Anyway, I was playing around with the machine today, and it turns out that I actually remember some stuff from my 7th grade Home Ec class. As of right now, I'm having some tension problems. One setting is way too loose, but the next setting up breaks the thread. This could be due to the fact that the thread I was experimenting with is, shall we say, not of the highest quality. I need to buy some better thread and try again.

Incidentally, Sara Moulton is unequivocably forgiven for the mac & cheese casserole snafu that I had a couple of weeks ago. I tried another of her recipes last night, one for a braised beef with onions and tomatoes and peppers and olives and lots of other stuff. So SO good... although I'm very glad that I made a half recipe, because I would have had way too many leftovers for just me if I had made it with the full 2.5 pounds of beef.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

St. Patrick's Day yarn sale: Plan B

Well, I didn't make it over to All About Yarn yesterday as planned. It would have required me going after work, and a 15% off coupon isn't enough to make me want to get on the highways around here at rush hour.

So, Plan B. Woolwinders in Rockville is also having a St. Patrick's Day. Their sale lasts all weekend, and their sale includes not just green, but also ORANGE yarn (I could knit a hunting vest!). Plus, Woolwinders is a store I've never been to, so there's the added "Undiscovered LYS!!" goodness. I'm thinking a trip there is in the works for tomorrow. I just have to go early so that I can get back in time to watch as many NCAA tournament games as possible.

Right now, I'm knitting, having a glass of wine, and watching the Wichita State/Tennessee game. The only thing that would make this better would be if CBS stopped showing the Applebee's Shrimp Sensations ad during every commercial break. The one with the two guys singing to the tune of the Gilligan's Island theme? It was irritating the first time I saw it, and now that I've seen it over 50 times in 3 days, it makes me want to pull my hair out.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hey, it's seasonal...

You're 45% Irish

You're probably less Irish than you think you are...
But you're still more Irish than most.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Some happy thoughts

Ok, I feel like I need to make up for the general unpleasantness I inflicted in my last post...

All About Yarn is having a St. Patricks Day sale. 15% off any green yarn. They had a red yarn sale for Valentines Day, during which I (of course) didn't buy any red yarn. However, I can definitely see me going for greens. If they ever find a holiday to have a purple or blue sale for, I'm sunk. :)

Speaking of yarns and stash... I should start taking my Flash Your Stash pictures soon. The nice thing about having a fairly small stash is that I figure I can get it done in a couple of hours at most, even if I separate everything by individual yarns.

I'm starting to come out of my post-Knitting Olympics knitting malaise, and am searching for a new main project to be working on. I think I need a Scorpio Zodiac Fair Isle pillow from Nicky Epstein's Knitting for Your Home. The Zodiac afghan is a bit daunting, but I feel like I could do a pillow. And I've never done fair isle, so it would be a Learning Experience. Who knows, if the pillow goes well, maybe I'll go for the whole afghan. :)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Ugh... darn you, Applebee's

I went to visit my parents this weekend. My parents are in love with Applebee's, and go about twice a week (ALWAYS for dinner on Friday). I don't understand their Applebee's obsession, but since they like it, I don't kick up a fuss or get snotty about it if that's where they decide to go. The food isn't terrible, there's Yuengling on tap... I can deal with Applebee's. For what it is, it's not bad.

So, I got home on Friday, and off to glorious Applebee's we went. I got myself a large Yuengling and a grilled chicken cordon bleu concoction. It wasn't bad actually... until a couple of hours later, by which point, I was in the bathroom praying for sweet death. Holy hell, I have never felt so awful in my life. I won't get into the grosser details, but I remember burning up so much that I pushed the bathmat out of the way and was lying on the tile floor with no shirt on, just to try to cool down.

By yesterday morning, I was about 75% back to normal, and I was fine by last night. All things considered, this was a pretty minor case of food poisoning... I feel so terrible for anyone who's gone through multiple DAYS like that.

However, this makes two times now that Applebee's has made me ill (the first time was nowhere near this bad, but was still fairly icky). Is this justifiable cause for me to suggest that we please, for the love of God, go somewhere other than Applebee's next time?

Other than that, it was a really nice weekend. No, that's not sarcasm. We had a good time AT Applebee's, and I was feeling decent enough by yesterday afternoon to go for a walk with my parents. Thankfully, my appetite was back in time for dinner last night (London broil and scalloped potatoes, which is one of my favorite meals ever). I even got in my mandatory scrapple* breakfast this morning (there was no way I was springing scrapple on my system yesterday morning).

* If you're not familiar with scrapple... you may be better off not knowing. From a New York Times article about Philly cuisine:
"As the name implies, it is made from the scraps of pork left over after most of the pig has been turned into ham, bacon, pork roasts and pork chops. These scraps are cooked with spices (usually sage and pepper), cornmeal and sometimes buckwheat or whole wheat flour. The resulting loaf is cooled and cut into half-inch slices, which are fried in butter or shortening until they turn a crisp, ruddy brown on the outside."
This is actually the least disgusting scrapple description I've ever read, which is why I had to share it. Personally, I like mine sliced closer to quarter-inch slices than half-inch, with a healthy dose of ketchup. I'll have to try it with maple syrup eventually, since that's apparently also popular.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Tale of Two Slippers

It was the best of socks, it was the worst of socks...

About a year ago, I took SimpleChic by Jill Eaton out of the library. I had only been knitting for a few months, and I wasn't really "struck" by anything (you know, that "I have to make that immediately" feeling); a lot of the patterns weren't really my taste. However, there was a pattern for bulky weight socks, "Clog Sox", which I found interesting. I hadn't done socks yet, and thought that starting out with a bulky weight pattern would be make it more likely that I wouldn't get frustrated (I was vaguely opposed to needles smaller than 8s... ah, those were the days).

So, I hauled out a skein of LB Homespun from my piddly little stash and made a "sock", which turned out to be a slipper (as in, there's no way I'm wearing it with shoes). And then Second Sock Syndrome hit. I liked my one slipper enough -- very warm and soft -- but I couldn't bring myself to do a second one.

That is, until this week:

The first sock, by the way, was my first-ever experience with Kitchener stitch. I don't recommend Kitchener stitch with Homespun, unless you want every subsequent experience with Kitchener to be super-easy by comparison. Now I'm all, "Kitchener? Woohoo, at least I'm not using Homespun!"

The pictures don't do them justice. These things are a dark fuschia-pink. And now that I think about it, every pair of slippers I've ever owned has been some variety of pink. Weird.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Knitting blog? What knitting blog?

I'll have knitting stuff very soon, I promise.

I came across
this list of 30 books you should read before you die, and I'm so happy that The Master and Margarita is on there. I had to read that for my freshman year "Core Course" (a mandatory lit class) in college. We read 25 or so books for that class, and The Master and Margarita was one of the only two that I actually liked (the other was Beloved). When I say I liked it, I mean I absolutely LOVED it. I still have my copy of it, and haul it out every couple of years for a re-read. Anyway, I don't think I've ever seen it on one of these Very Important Works of Literature lists before. I HIGHLY recommend it, if you haven't read it.

I had two people at work today separately tell me I should apply for a promotion once I'm eligible (have to be working there for 6 months before you can apply for a different position). I had been planning on trying to do that anyway, but it's nice to hear that other people there think I'm doing a good job and should go for it. Yay! :)

AND there were 2 kids' tours today, which is always entertaining. I was listening in on the one tour group while they were up near the desks, and I had to stifle a laugh when tour guide Brian came up with the following when showing a roll of microfilm to the kids: "
Micro means 'small'... and film means 'film'." I didn't get a chance to ask if that was, in fact, an homage to the monorail episode of The Simpsons in which Lyle Lanley tells the monorail conductor training class, "Mono means 'one', and rail means 'rail'." Was the joke completely lost on a group of 5-year-olds? Yep.

Right now, I'm watching a repeat of Barefoot Contessa, and Ina and her friend are taking a tour of a lighthouse that the friend is restoring. They just had the following exchange:

Ina: Can I go down backwards?
Friend: Sure. Lots of people go down that way.

At which point, I begin laughing uncontrollably. Thank you, TWOP, for making it so I can't even watch a COOKING SHOW without having my brain in the gutter. I blame this entirely on the thread on the 24 forum entitled "You know what Johnson does: Non-Sexy Sexy Dialogue".

(Speaking of 24... Poor Edgar. They better stop killing off characters before the place is entirely staffed with redshirts.)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

How my brain works

5:00 pm: "I should make something for dinner that will give me plenty of leftovers so I don't need to scrounge up something for lunch at work tomorrow... Ooh, mac & cheese casserole with ham... and there are potato chips crumbled on top. Sounds really unhealthy. I'm making it."

5:30 pm: "Something about the technique on that recipe seemed weird."

6:00 pm: "Something about the technique on that recipe was DEFINITELY weird. Has Sara Moulton led me astray? She does say it's a recipe from a family friend, not actually her own recipe..."

6-9:30 pm: "TV... shiny, pretty colors."

9:30 pm: "Dang. I still need to figure out something for lunch, because I'm not bringing the mac & cheese now. Hmm. I have leftover ham. I could make a sandwich if I had any bread.... I should make bread."

2:30 am: "Why, WHY do I always decide to make bread at 9:30 at night, so that I'm up until well after 3:00 waiting for it to be done?"

Yes, here I am, waiting for the loaf of bread that I decided to make at 9:30. I know full well that it has to rise for at least 5 hours. I wish I could say that this is the first time I've done this, but it's not... it's more like the fourth or fifth time I've done this. At least I'll have really good homemade bread for my sandwich for lunch tomorrow...

As for the less-than-stellar mac & cheese that I alluded to: Bette's Macaroni and Cheese from Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals, by Sara Moulton. I love Sara Moulton. She's a petite gal (we have to stick together, you know), and she knows her stuff in the kitchen. She's never led me astray before, which is what makes the mac & cheese even more disappointing. The recipe has its good points, but the technique is weird. I was expecting a typical creamy mac & cheese concoction, and what I got was a very dry, decidedly uncreamy dish of potato chips and melted cheese on top of pasta and ham. It's not terrible, but some major alterations are needed before I foist it on others--and foist it I shall, because (once the recipe is fixed) this thing has "potluck" written all over it. If nothing else, it's a good reminder of why I like to try out new recipes on myself first.