Nov 28, 2007

Son of a...

Tonight I had the extreme pleasure of a meeting a woman who played a great role in my love of knitting....the one and only Debbie Stoller!

Debbie is the author of Stitch n' Bitch, Stitch n' Bitch Nation, Happy Hooker, and most recently Son of Stitch n' Bitch. Stitch n' Bitch was the first book I purchased and taught me all of the basics of knitting, purling, increasing/decreasing, casting on/binding off. I often loan my copy of Stitch n' Bitch to beginning knitters because the text and drawings make it so simple to pick up the craft.

Her newest book features knitting for the men in your life. I was skeptical when I first flipped through, but she passed around some of the finished items. They were simply terrific. There are a few double-knit projects I can't wait to try out, including a hat with a celtic knot and a "naughty and nice" scarf that shows the silhouette of a woman's body when you hold the scarf flat. I know a guy that would cherish that scarf! Many of the projects have a little trick to them, because as Debbie says, men like toys.

The 40 minute drive to GR was well worth it to meet a clever author. I felt a little dumb when I approached her. What do you say to a woman you admire so much? All I could come up with was "Thank you." I hope she felt how much I meant it. BTW, I did take a pic with her on my camera phone, but unfortunately it didn't save as the memory was full. I'll just have to get another picture when I save enough money to go on her Caribbean "Stitch n' Beach" cruise!

Nov 27, 2007

Christmas Knitting

I am slowly working my way through some Christmas knitted gifts. Here's a nice pair of warm socks knit with Mountain Colors yarn. I didn't do anything more than a plain stockinette stitch. I think the yarn colorway is beautiful enough that it doesn't need to have a fussy pattern. These socks have a special recipient, but that will remain secret for now.

More projects to come!

Nov 25, 2007

Vote for Helio!

Now that Jennie Garth is gone from Dancing with the Stars- I can promise my undivided vote to Helio.  He has been such a great spirit through the competition.  He works hard to get good scores (I believe much harder than Mel).  He has absolutely no background in choreography or entertaining. And can we just talk about his smile?!   The boy should do a Crest White Strips commercial.

Unfortunately, the dancing last night was not as great as last week. I suppose it's hard when they have three dances to learn. Mel's hip-hop was slow and just looked like old people trying to be teenagers. Marie was scary in her doll costume. Helio was the star of the night. For a little guy, he was able to throw Julianne all over the dance floor.

And for those out there who roll their eyes at DWTS, but stare intently at every MSU game....just think of the final episode tonight as the dancer's Rose Bowl.

Oh, and I just have to mention, Samantha's chest was a bit too much in that purple dress. Good lord!
Vote here before noon.

Nov 24, 2007

I may not be a hunter...

but I sure know how to sniff out a great door busting sale.   It's no surprise that Brian and I were up at 4 am on Black Friday.  Just like any other year, we were eager to hunt down some good deals, and boy did we ever.  
This year we shopped in Ann Arbor since we spent the night at my parents.  My sister, Meagan, joined us.  We didn't have much to buy on our list, but we were successful in finding great deals on everything we needed to. 
I know a lot of you out there are weary of Black Friday, but just take our advice for future years and you'll do fine.

1. If you're in a department store and find a check-out line thirty customers deep, seek out the men's suit section.  You'll find an old man there wearing pin stripes and possibly named George.  He'll take care of you.

2. No deal is ever worth messing with Kohl's.  If you don't believe me and you go there anyway, don't say I didn't warn you.  My favorite sales are usually at Target, Meijer, and Macy's.  

3.  Bring a husband.  He's very good at carrying items and holding your spot in line.  If he refuses, just remember, McDonald's McGriddles are a powerful motivator.  If he still refuses, promise him you'll take him to the Apple store. He'll have visions of iPod shuffles dancing in his head.

I recently read a blog that critiqued Black Friday - commenting on the Chinese factory products ending up in American landfills. Yes I can agree that a lot of Christmas gifts are superfluous and may never be appreciated, used or even needed. But I really try to do my best to buy quality items that my friends and family can appreciate. At the end of the day, all that matters is that I had a good time.  Isn't that the point?

Giving Thanks

I have a lot to give thanks for this year. I hope you all feel the same. Brian and I spent a quiet Thanksgiving at my parent's house this year. We enjoyed a delicious meal full of traditional Thanksgiving dishes.  I was right by my mom's side knitting er helping.  My older sister couldn't make it this year, so we went without the green bean casserole. Brian's day was a bit disrupted by this lack of a soupy treat, but he made do. Maggie enjoyed a Busy Bone and seemed, luckily, oblivious to the feast at our table.

One of my experiments this year was an acorn squash bisque from my Junior League cookbook.  I was thrilled to find an acorn squash puree at Williams-Sonoma, which saved me from having to whack through 3# of acorn squash peels.  The recipe was tastefully inventive, easy, but messy as you have to process it all to a smooth consistency after cooking.  Let's just say, hot puree makes for easy second degree burns.  I was worried my father might not like it as he has a phobia for sweet potatoes.  But I knew it was a hit when I caught him slurping his bowl clean.  He caught me looking at him like a boy with his hand in the cookie jar.  He smiled and just said "That was good."

To Grandmother's house we go.

Nothing like a deep fried bird carcass to put you in the mood!

Brian's specialty - sweet potato casserole.

I'd love to hear what you all enjoyed this Thanksgiving!

Nov 20, 2007

She'll hate me for this...

My father shared this photo of my mom zooming down a water slide in Hawaii last week. He entitled it "Mom having fun."

I think it probably took two mai-tais and a tequila sunrise to get her to do that! She sure does look like she's having a blast....or like she had no idea what was coming when she sat down at the top of the slide!

Product Pick

Well, I'm no longer doing a "Pick of the Week," but am still keeping my eye open for new products to share.
I found a coupon for this new product and decided to give it a try. This pick is a boxed Chinese meal kit - Wanchai Ferry.

I have tried boxed Thai preparations before and have been very disappointed in the way the noodles turned out. This was a much better experience. I purchased Kung Pao Chicken for about $3.50. The kit included jasmine rice, peanuts, chili peppers and sauce. I added four chopped chicken breasts. It was easy to prepare - a great week night dish or weekend lunch. Brian raved about the taste several times over. Find it in your international food aisle. We'll definitely pick up some more.

Nov 19, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

I love the holiday season. I love the feeling of giving, the thoughts of others, the happy get-togethers and comfort foods. It's the one time of year I put Dave Ramsey aside and get to shop. Well, Dave isn't completely ignored. We save a little each month for the entire year in preparation for Christmas.

Brian and I broke in the holiday shopping with an open house in downtown Holland Saturday night. The vendors stay open late and offer wine tastings, hors douvres and sales. My favorite stops were The Seasoned Home and Picket Fence. I continued my shopping delight with my cherished friends, Kim and Meredith, at a lunch meeting in Lansing on Sunday. (I somehow ended up with five bags and Kim with none.) I also took a vacation day today to spend with my wonderful friend Linda. Of course there was more shopping, but also knitting. And I can't wait for my favorite shopping day of the year- Black Friday!!

If you guys aren't already out there - what are you waiting for?!

Nov 17, 2007

Mary Gertrude

I'm sorry I've been off blogger this week. Brian's grandmother passed away Monday night after a long struggle with COPD. This is his father's stepmother, but really like a true mother as she raised him since he was 5 years old. It's strange and sad how much more you learn about someone after their death. I knew Mary as a kind lady who supported me and Brian fully and knew me better than my own grandparents. She shared in my love for knitting and even gave me all of her needles. What I learned of Mary at the funeral was impressive. She was a graduate from Kalamazoo College, back when women didn't go to college. She fought to help my father-in-law get surgical repair for his club feet and was there to nurse him back to health and ease his pain.

We were glad she was finally able to leave her body as it was such a struggle for her each day to breathe. But she will be missed and we will cherish her memory.

Nov 11, 2007

Photo op

Thank you for all of your comments on my last post. It was nice to have input from women who have been through it all.

This weekend has been quiet for us. We attempted to take Christmas pictures of Maggie for our card, but ended up with a lot of this.

We tried to catch up on some Netflix videos, which are my picks, Wild Hogs and Reign Over Me. Brian was less than thrilled to watch Wild Hogs, but I think he enjoyed it. He said he was "mildly" entertained. I thought the cast was cleverly put together and there were a lot of cameos that were also well-placed. William H. Macy stole the show. It's good for a Saturday night rental.

I've also been strategizing how I'm going to save up some money to buy myself a spinning wheel. After only two nights of spinning class, it may be premature to think I would like my own wheel. But I felt like I was really getting the hang of it. I started imagining the pride I would have from converting fiber into yarn and then into a wearable item. It could also be quite soothing. You just lean back, get your foot beating in a smooth rhythm, like you're keeping time with the music. Then you gently pull the fiber into line and release small bits to the twist of the wheel. Sounds nice, doesn't it? This is a nice wheel I'm thinking about getting, made by Ashford.

I'm going to have to think of some stuff to sell on Ebay to get some money for a wheel!!

Nov 6, 2007

Just rambling...

Now, let me start this off by saying that I am still a working woman and will be for a while, but I've been thinking...
Is it silly to feel called to be a homemaker? I have been thinking a lot about how I feel when I'm at work. I usually feel tense, dumb, and unliked. I would go into why, but it's best not to blog about your job. I think about how I feel when I'm at home, accomplished, organized, and creative. I got to wondering whether wanting to be home is rather common place, because wouldn't any woman rather be at home? Well, maybe not. I'm pretty sure that I enjoy a lot of odd things that other woman don't.

I enjoy cutting coupons and challenging myself to see what was saved at the end of my grocery bill. I enjoy trying new recipes and then hearing the praise from my husband or friends about the taste. I love to write a to-do list in the morning, making it a little bit longer than what I could expect to get done, and then checking each one off. I TiVo Martha, and actually watch it. I adore the Supernanny. I fantasize about having time to make homemade sauces, dog food/biscuits, and baby food. And someday, I dream about giving my children a warm home where they feel they have a mother devoted to them.

So the question is, am I being niave? Am I looking at homemaking through rose-tinted glasses? Does every woman want this? The bottom line is, although I dream about it, it will be years before I may get to try it for myself. Maybe I'm already doing the work I am meant to be doing. You know, the grass always does seem greener.

She's growing up!

Maggie completed her puppy obedience class last night.

She's come a long way with her training. She's really getting the grasp of sit, down, stay, and come. She's also learned how to walk on a loose leash. Sunday we put her training in action and went out to a public park with soccer fields. We let her loose and practice "come" from across the field. She came, even when Brian hid behind a tree! We were very proud of our little pup. Now we can start working on some fun stuff, like shake, spin and jumping.

The puppy class teacher was kind enough to let each of the puppies pick two toys out of a pile. Maggie picked out a Santa Claus and Halloween eyeball - she has odd taste.

It's been a busy day off so far. The weather is so blustery that I hated to go out, but I survived. I now have my stew in the crock pot and am excited for my yarn spinning class tonight! Plus I have to see who's next to get the boot on DWTS - I hope Jane!

Nov 4, 2007

Comfort Food

With the fall weather here, I continue to crave warm comfort foods that also hint to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. This week I have several things on my mind, mashed sweet potatoes, stew, white chicken chili and squash bisque.

Last week we had split-pea soup, so I'm past that. It was yummy. I didn't have a hambone, but just used some cubed ham to impart that nice salty flavor. Brian spent Sunday night concocting a delicious chicken potpie. He did a great job and is already thinking of creative ways to alter his next recipe.

What's in/on your oven this week?

All I want for Christmas

is my puppy to lose all of her milk teeth...and she started this weekend! Grandma and Grandpa B. watched Maggie while we were at a housewarming party Saturday night. Maggie had fun playing with them as well as aunts/uncles/cousins. She also got to watch the football game and hopefully now she's decided to be cool like her mom and root for U of M.

Anyway, we picked her up later that night and got the big news - her first tooth fell out! We were sad to have missed it, but Brian's cousin, Rachael, so kindly kept it for us.

It's one of those jagged side teeth too - the kind she uses to rip finger flesh. I'm so glad to see it go, but am nervous about what will pop up in it's place.

Nov 1, 2007


Last night a teen was shot in the arm 1 1/2 blocks from our house. This occurred just after 10 pm last night, I did hear sirens, but wasn't too worried. Should I be more worried? Is it wrong for me to think that because I don't belong to a gang that I'm at no risk. Instead of my safety, I just think "That won't help the resale value of my house."