Saturday, October 30, 2010

Good Morning, World!

There is a new app for Blogger on Android phones. This is my test with it! I took a picture this morning of the phenomenal sunrise outside my hotel window here in Winnie, TX. This is by far rhe prettiest view I've ever had in any room so far. I love this town!
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.4

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Torque"-Up Your Workout!

Lets start with something warm & fuzzy. Here is a picture of my beautiful, sweet little horse. He's new, he's the first horse I've wanted since my angel (Negrita) died about 5 years ago. Neggy was my horse from the time I was 13 till age 31. This fella is my new guy, and the one I expect to last the rest of our lives together. He's 9 now, still a youngling and off the racetrack. He's an ex-racer! Beautiful story, you'll have to hear it later though. On to the story of my torture!

Now then, on to the reason for this post. As many of you may know, I have been out of employment for about a month now. I went through another layoff. Unemployment benefits wouldn't feed a small animal, and so I've been looking for a new job - but I want something new, something DIFFERENT! (Don't we all?) Well I think I have found it, and I'm going for it with both barrels loaded for bear (so to speak... no real guns or ammo were or ever will be involved in this analogy).

However, this job (which shall remain nameless at this present time) will require a great physical commitment from me. There is not a traditional office setting, there is a lot of outdoor work and hazardous conditions, and a LOT of strenuous physical labor. Perhaps this is not the best job for someone having my particular set of health problems, but it's a job I've always fantasized about having nonetheless and I am over the moon at the opportunity to finally achieve this goal.

So upon finding the LOCAL job opening, I applied for it and was subsequently called in for an interview. Apparently not a lot of women (in their words, none) have ever applied for the position. As soon as my initial interview was completed, I called my sister-in-law Kay and asked her for immediate help with a workout plan that would help me pass the physical part of the testing without looking too much like an ass. I need endurance & stretching help ASAP! Kay is the queen of the body builders, by the way, and is dreaming of becoming a personal trainer some day soon.

Luckily she let me come over right away & she put together a plan of action. Starting with cardio - ten minutes of activity (jumping rope) to get my heart pumping, then followed-up with several printed pages worth of stretches to be done without weights until after the test is completed next week. After I pass the test (hopefully) then I can start doing the stretches with weights for optimal results.

On paper, these stretches have the most delightful names! Frog Stretch, Ham Stretch (I love ham!), Snow Shovel, Tricep Dips, and Russian Twists. As you can see, several of these names are familiar from the pastry counter at your local bakery. I was in HEAVEN! No one knows you like family; Kay has really come through for me & combined my favorite activity (eating) with the Hell of working out, in order to make it easier for me to assimilate.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. Turns out "Tricep Dips" are not a tasty ice cream flavor, it's Lucifer's Favorite Scoop (those are her words). Russian Twists, those are named after the machine Tomas de Torquemada used in the Crusades... I'm sure of it. So when Kay tells you she'll "Torque-up" a workout for you, she's f-ing serious!!!!! RUUUUUN!

I'm so sore I can't even cry today. My tear ducts are still bruised from last night. Keep your fingers crossed. I promise I will let everyone know about the true nature of the job should I manage to score it. Until then, I don't want to let the cat out of the bag & put a hex on it or anything.

Carpe Crustulum!
(Seize the Cookie)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How to be Alone

This was just shared on one of my online forum groups. It transported me, it reminded me so beautifully why my life -works- now, and why my relationship works. I love my alone time. My husband just lets me "be" whenever I need it (which is most of the time). To all my friends out there who have a little of the hermit in them, you will understand this immediately. To my beloveds who haven't discovered the marvelous "Alone"... investigate it; it's beyond compare.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Comic Relief - Catherine Tate & David Tennant

Scot, this one is for you!

And btw - I hate, despise, and abhor the "new" doctor. He's not even growing on me like you said... in fact, not even the totally-hottest new companion makes up for the loathing I feel for him. :( Not even companion porn makes up for him. Although I -am- going to brave the next episode just to find out if his new companion manages to kill him. That would be a good episode.

Gingered Spam Salad, anyone?

So... this morning I had a great harvest of my little tiny Thai Hot Peppers. I've just got the one little plant but it's beautiful and it makes me very happy. Usually I pop one or two of these red hot babies into my pickle brine but I've got a metric goat-ton (considering how many we can actually consume) of them after this harvest and I was looking online for a good recipe to put them in.
Above is the plant in question. See the bell pepper peeking out behind it? Almost ready!

Nevermind that no one in my family can stomach eating something that hot. Minor details.

The recipe that came up over and over and OVER again was "Gingered Spam Salad".

Ok, so I'll just go ahead and be the first to admit it out loud: I like spam. I don't eat it often and I try to secret it into the cart when I do splurge on my guilty pleasure, but there is nothing so fine as a thinly sliced and crispy-fried spam sandwich with a fresh garden tomato in the summer. Mmmm! It's like a BLT but better because I have to sneak and eat it so no one will catch me. You know it's better if it's naughty!

I'm not so sure I want to try a Gingered Spam Salad, but because it was so persistent and because it somehow delights me that someone would "waste" good ingredients on spam, I'm going to include the recipe here for all to gawk at.

Gingered Spam Salad

1 can Spam, julienned.
1/4 c Finely chopped ginger root
1 ea Small red onion, finely
1/2 ts Garlic powder
1/4 c Freshly squeezed lime juice
Zest of 1 lime
1/2 ts Oriental dried chili powder
1/4 c Chopped cilantro leaves
8 ea Cherry tomatoes
Thai bird peppers and
Cilantro sprigs to garnish

Combine all ingredients in a sealed glass or plastic container to
marinate. Refrigerate at least two hours or preferably overnight.
Stir or shake occasionally to evenly coat. One hour before serving,
stir in cilantro. Serve on a bed of torn salad greens of your choice.
Garnish with quartered cherry tomatoes, Thai bird peppers and
cilantro sprigs.

Also, if anyone would like some of my super-tasty (and extremely hot) Thai peppers, let me know. They're great if you wanna drop a couple into your pickle brine. They add a pop of color and it's fun to watch the consumers' eyes as their mouth lights-up like Disney World. For my gardening friends, these are heirloom seeds - you save the seeds the same way you do tomatoes - by fermenting them & saving the sinkers. Ask me if you have questions on the process!

Enjoy the pictures of this morning's harvest of Thai peppers and cherry tomatoes. Life is good in the garden today.


My garlic chives are blooming. Aren't these the most beautiful little flowers?

Above are the little volunteer mushrooms growing under my rosemary bush.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Witness-Protection Keegan, Does it Again!

The kid found mustaches here in town - at the Sav-a-Lot down from Knit Happy, this time. He asked me for some quarters for a treat and I am powerless against his big blue eyes so I gave him all I had. I do not know how much these silly disguises cost, but it's probably around 50 cents. Please go and get your kids some! These have really earned their price over and over again. Plus, they are great fun to leave in special places for Mom & Dad to find (unexpectedly) later. Like, stuck to the light switch in the bathroom before 6am when your eyes don't really open until the adrenaline hits your system when you think you've just touched the biggest hairiest spider in all the world...

He's still laughing over that one.

He found the awesome hat below at Wal Mart, after insisting that he needed vampire teeth. I was pretty impressed. I think he needs a gangster hat now. It certainly seems like a unique look he's coming up with for himself.

Ooh! Look what we found on the door at Ross'! This is without a doubt the largest Praying Mantis I've ever seen in person. She was exquisite and fearsome and I am -SO- glad I had the camera with us. She was just watching us as intently as we were watching her, but she wasn't moving and we weren't messing with her. I hope she had a successful hunt... but what does something that large hunt for? Toddlers? Birds? She was literally the size of my forearm. You can see our reflections in the picture below the close-up and kind-of tell how large she was.

ETA: I did a search online, and couldn't find the exact species this is, but I was able to confirm that at this size, their prey IS birds! I can't believe it's true, but it is! I was even able to find the following picture on a bird watching forum - it's part of a series where the mantis just grabbed the hummingbird out of the air; hooked its chest and ate it! Keep your toddlers back, ladies - this predator is no joke!

And finally, an update on my Krokus. I've got another set of "ladybirds" done - that's what the first chart translates to. "Mariehons pa blade" means "Ladybirds on Leaves". For some reason I find that especially enchanting and romantic. I'm extremely happy with this shawl. It's delicate and vibrant, it's challenging and simple at the same time! It is definitely one of the most unique lace shawls I have ever fallen in love with and I am beyond happy to be knitting it. I can't wait to show my girls on knit night.

That, and I wish I had about 5000 more yards of this yarn, it's very happy-making. I'm glad I had the foresight to get two skeins of it, I've got about 2200 yards total (I believe) so I should be able to make several smaller lace projects out of it if I'm careful.

Happy Knitting. Blessed be.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Out with the Old, In with the New!

I finished the "Green Blob", blocked it night before last and took my victory picture yesterday morning. To be exact, Keegan took the picture and he was half asleep and grumbly and then claimed to have no knowledge of it later that day. I think he may have a future in politics.

Of course you can't see the beads in the picture, but in PERSON it's sparkly and magnificent! And in honor of it blocking out and looking like a shawl and not a wrinkly green blob (oh, the magic of blocking!) I gave it a new name.

Dryads Dance in the Dewy Spring Canopy.

And then minutes after taking my victory picture, I CO for my next lace project. NOT because I'm addicted! If I were so inclined, I could quit knitting lace any time... Thank all the powers that I'm not so inclined.

This is Krokus (Crocus) and it's being knit on 100% bamboo 2/24 thread yarn and of course it's not going to be a difficult or confusing pattern at all. In fact, as you may have noticed from the picture, it's also got beaded nupps - which only add to the simplicity of the pattern. Ok, I'll stop being sarcastic now.

Do you see the little crocus flowers in the middle? ::SQUEE::

That's all for now, I'm going to go get ready for work and try to muddle through my day with this beautiful thing singing its siren song to me from the knitting bag.

I hope you all have something equally as delicious and happy-making on the needles. I'm in complete bliss right now! Of course it could only be better if I were wealthy enough to stay home and knit clean all day.

(my DH reads the blog...)

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I am getting ready to finish the baby cardigan I've been working on for the past week; the Helena for my boss' grandneice Holly to wear this fall. I've actually done the collar and the little ties in the front closure too but I don't have a picture handy of them yet.

I've also finished my Bottom-Up Birch! Below, is yesterday morning - stretched across my patio table so you can see what a nondescript lump lace looks like before the magic of blocking!

Below is my soak water after about 30 minutes of the project just sitting in it. If you're using this yarn, be careful washing it! It's a superwash, so the unwarned may toss it in with a load of laundry (I don't think I know people who would do something so terrible... right?) The yarn is Dream in Color's new Knitosophy in the "Laugh" colorway. It looks like opals to me, and while the colors are terribly busy, they are also bright and all my favorites so I should be able to wear this with a lot of my outfits to have some pop-colors. I can't wait for fall! Maybe I'll wear it to work today.

Below is it on me. Nevermind the hutch to my right that needs me to pick one of the four colors on it and repaint it! See how the lace pattern is actually visible now? The blocking faeries did a great job, as per usual.

I blocked it on my son Kieffer's bed yesterday morning. Before work. Yes, I woke him up, asked him to walk the dogs for me, then proceeded to pin out the shawl on his bed. Ha ha, I had to bribe him when he came back in and realized he'd been duped!

Also, I have no pictures, but I went to dance class last night and it was great. I went with a willing Kieffer, too! I'm really liking him at 14, I hope this doesn't change for the worse when he gets a little bit older. We've been to two dance classes so far (I've been to three, one without him because I didn't know how much fun they would be) and I think I have found the one that I want to join. It was a riot, and there were plenty of men to dance with. Of course, they were all old retired VFW men but I'm thinking after the fun night we had that's more of a plus too!

They have a website if you want to google them, they are the Nashville Dance Club at the VFW. Back room is for dancing and the front room is for drinking! What more could you ask for? Unlike a lot of other dance places, there are tons of men for practicing with! Dance lessons are Wednesdays (sorry, knit group) and they are $7 for non-members and $5 for members. This is ballroom-style dance stuff, so there is NO lower price anywhere in town! We are in the middle of a series of Swing lessons there now - I stepped-in on #3 beginner class and next month is intermediate.

If you just want to try out a free dance class, go this Saturday to Centennial Park, down by the locomotive (not the Parthenon, farther down) and they will have a live band and a free dance lesson sometime around 7pm. This week they will be doing the waltz. Next week they will be filming for the show "So you think you can dance"! Bring your a-game!

Next post: Garden update! (teaser: I've got tomatoes & peppers *squee*)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Piano Bench Refinish

Look below! That's my beautiful piano bench... albeit, somewhat ruined. That's my exquisite Kara-dog behind it too, making sure the picture is aesthetically pleasing since the bench is so ugly. That appears to be some kind of super glue spots (not dog snot!) and scrapes and other unmentionable things on it. What paint or stain was on it is now abandoning ship. You can kindof see the pretty legs on it though. It's a very fancy ornate little bench.

I went to Home Depot and got some felt pads for the bottom of the legs (haven't put them on yet) and then decided... well, refinishing a piano is a BIG job and I don't want to get 1/3 of the way through it and give up. Lets see how difficult it will be to refinish a piano BENCH instead! Oh, and look, I have one handy that needs it! How convenient is that? So I did a little research into how I would theoretically want to refinish the piano should I ever undertake that particular endeavor. Looks like French Polish / Shellac is the way to go. Yup, no easy way to do it, lots of hard work and elbow grease, and time. PERFECT! I'll just do the top of the bench, so I have a nice place to sit and if I hate the work or if I suck at it, at least I have a nice bench (top) out of the deal.

I sanded (and sanded, and slept and then sanded some more the next day), and I stained it ebony black. Then I sat back and said, "GAWD, if this was a whole piano I'd move away!" Not really, I was feeling rather proud of myself at that point. The top of the bench felt like satin! Anyway, sanding and staining and sanding some more and staining some more and rubbing and buffing and dang my arms hurt!

I got my shellac supplies and put the first coat on. Look how pretty it is! Now only 15-20 more coats and it should look great. There's some of my supplies below. Not really that interesting, but shared anyway.

Here (below) is the picture of it as of yesterday afternoon when I quit working on it out of necessity. I had a billion other things to do. But look, this is somewhere around 8-10 coats of shellac. It's getting there! You can see my reflection, fairly clearly!

Now, I have already learned some things. First: get a paint stripper, because sanding paint off sucks. Buy a nice expensive paint stripper too, don't go the cheap route. (My Mom says you -always- have to spend the big bucks to get a good stripper! ha ha ha) You will have so much sanding to do anyway that you'll still get your exercise and then some.
Second: I sanded and was very careful about getting everything glass-smooth with an extremely fine grade of wet/dry sandpaper... but I still have areas that absorbed the shellac & show grain. Next time I will use something called pummice to fill the grain after my first coat of shellac. I didn't read about that until I was already past the first coat.
Third: Shellac is extremely forgiving and easy to repair. Not just if you mess up while doing it but also if you or a kid or dog does something to it in the future. That is one of the main reasons I chose to French Polish rather than doing something easier. That, and I am completely infatuated with "old fashioned" things! Plus, shellac is a renewable resource. Just can't beat all that!

I'm going to get some paint stripper in the next few days. It seems I have a lot of projects that I can use it on. My outdoor metal chair is coming along quite nicely, and I've got a cabinet/hutch that's all different colors that desperately needs me to choose one and run with it! And the rest of this bench needs to be finished too, of course. Now, I used an ebony stain and an amber colored shellac, but the jury is still out on whether or not I like the color it has become. I was hoping for more of a warm black than a warm orange... but it's still not too late to re-do it. Even though I have a bazillion "coats" of the stuff on it already, it's really only a very thin layer that can be easily removed.

Look What I Bought!

I found this amazing place online, , while looking for a piano tuner. Yes, sometimes the cart DOES come before the horse. Ok, ok, full story; I found a similar piano at Habitat for Humanity Homestore for $150 and I wanted to get a tuner out to look at it ASAP. Looking for the tuner brought me to the website where I could get a guarantee and a free delivery on a piano of my choice for around the same price! Of course I ran right out there, met Jerrold who runs the place, and selected a couple of pianos that tickled my fancy. Jerrold had the tuner-guy take a look at them both and I came back with a check after he said they would both hold a tune.

Here above is my baby in the warehouse, dusty and hidden like a treasure waiting to be found. The picture looks nice and bright but the spot where she was really wasn't. I was surprised when I got home & saw the pictures. Below is a detail of the scrollwork on the front. That beautiful cherry color was definitely not evident to me at the time. In fact, even now that it's home it's still a little darker than that to the naked eye.

Here she is (below) in my living room. I had to move book cases to get her in, now I have even MORE stuff I don't have room for upstairs. Thank GOD the rebuild on the downstairs room is going really really well.
Below is what she looks like with her "clothes" off. This was minutes after the delivery happened and Jerrold had left. I was cleaning, and considering how difficult it would be to re-do her finish, and I just started unscrewing things to find out what could & couldn't be done! I'm like that though... Jerrold said it was definitely within a beginner's grasp to re-do the finish on their own piano. It's not like it's really worth a bundle of $ or anything, my love and $250 is all!

He also let me pick out a bench to go with it. I selected a lovely one with ornate legs and a terrible ruined finish. My next post will be of that project. It's really a great piano, only slightly out of tune - and not too painfully at that. I've been very happy already. Toward the end of the month, the tuner will come out to my home for my first tuning (which was included in the purchase price, along with delivery). I'm so excited, I could do the dance all over again just thinking about my good fortune!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Some Random Pictures to Share

Driving home from work the other day, after what I thought was a very normal rain shower, I noticed this. Several trees down in front of Andrew Jackson Elementary School on Shute Ln. This one was down by the corner near OHB, but farther down where there's a chain link fence around the kids' park area there was another tree down right over the fence and there was a lot of wood debris in piles along the entrance way like someone had already cleared a lot of it out. Strangeness!

This past Saturday I bought the kids a frosty cool drink after they helped me haul some stuff off to the dump. When we got back home, one of the boys left their drink to condensate on the rock wall near my garden. When I was walking past I noticed that a beautiful dragonfly had landed on the straw for a sip of water. It let me get close enough to take this picture then it flew off.

Shannie & I went to a dinner at a local winery recently. We had delish crawfish foods and a wine tasting & I brought home a tasty bottle of wine as a souvenir. The place was really magical, beautiful, and the people delightful and friendly. It's out in Columbia, TN - Amber Falls Winery. If anyone likes wine, please please please make the trip out to see this place. The wine is great, the scenery is amazing and the whole place is without compare.

Speaking of magical, PJ and I attended his friend Phillip's wedding, and it was magnificent. I will have to find a picture or two to share of it here. You just wouldn't believe! I also managed to dress in her colors and looked vaguely like a decoration. One of our friends snapped this picture of us. We don't get a lot of pics together, this one is extra-special.

Finally, Kieffer graduated from Middle School. Next school year he will be in High School. He's halfway there! PJ, Keegan and I drove up to KY to see him graduate. After the ceremony & festivities at the school, we took my Mom with us out to eat at the only buffet in town, a chinese restaurant. It was great. On the way out, the boys asked for 50 cents for the gumball/toy machines. Strangely, the one machine they picked had disguise mustaches in it! I guess it's a KY thing... Kieffer got the Hitler, and Keegan got the Pancho Villa. These kids never fail to delight me. Can life get much better?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Michael on the Farm

My Mom, getting hay for the horses - one of her chickens supervising.

Michael playing with Harry-the-raccoon.

All of us at the swimming hole! Michael, Kieffer, Keegan, Me, Andie, & my niece Ally. We only saw two snakes that day, it was a success.

The boys found an egg hiding in the hay pile.

They egg-hiding hay pile in question...

Michael riding his very first horse, this is "Shadow", the cornerstone stallion in my Dad's breeding program.

Shadow again.

Shadow looks like a model horse, he's just stunning. Look how calm Michael looks too!

Michael & Kieffer getting ready to help my Mother give the horses hay.

The barn we saw along the way decorated on two sides with KY license plates. Very creative.

New Project!

No, not knitting... I'm stripping the paint off some old metal chairs my brother gave me a couple years ago. They will be repainted a wonderful color & they will become part of my outdoor set once they're refurbished. We are using his power drill and some wire wheels. I started the chair Sunday night and Keegan has put a few hours in Monday & today. We're not making a lot of progress but I have to admit that it's more than a little addictive using the power drill to remove the FOUR layers of thick paint on these chairs. From the outside, down to metal, the layers are black, white, robin's egg blue, & teal blue. There is also some small degree of rust which I thought would be a LOT worse once I got going but it's not worse than surface discoloration so far.

I was pretty sure the rust was the cause of most of the bubbles and disfigured patterning, but it turns out it's the layers of misbegotten paint forming warped bumps. Once you get down to the metal there's no rust pockets and the design is very delineated. I think once we get this tedious paint removal done with, the chairs will turn out lovely. Above is the before picture of one. Below is the one Keegan is working on now.

That's Sunday evening when he started. Now most of the bottom is done and we're getting ready to move onto a new part of the chair. It's very slow going, but it's addictive work. I'm worried about Scot's drill overheating or breaking from the hours of constant use. I hope he's in a forgiving mood if it happens. :)

Here's the seat bottom as of tonight, at bedtime. I really want to work on it some more myself, but I only got a few minutes in before we had to do other stuff. I'm eager to go to a local hardware store & see if I can't find some more wire wheels too. Something to get into the little crevices and corners.

I'm getting excited about the color possibilities now too. I think I've settled on a yellowy-cream color for them, with details hand-painted in corals & greens but I'm not 100% sure. If you've got any ideas, be sure to share them with me. I personally love how they remind me of Dresden Plate quilts and a white and blue color scheme isn't entirely ruled-out either!


(By the way, the set I have is a bounce-chair and a rocker. Both appear to be in fantastic condition now that I've started removing the paint. This is a set that was made sometime between the 1930's - 1950's and it's in a very rare "Piecrust" pattern. That's an FYI in case you're interested in old stuff like I am.)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

First Rebuild Project, COMPLETED!

So today I dragged PJ & Kieffer to both the Habitat Homestores to look at what was there. We found a perfect man-room door! Our fabulous neighbor Carl gave us advice on measuring & damned if he wasn't right! We finagled and improvised and managed to get it hung so now we can keep raccoons and stray dogs out of our downstairs! I feel like proper-folk now. Not to mention, I think this is a much prettier door than the one we originally had.

Unfortunately, my darling DH hasn't yet considered that the man-cave needs to be dark and dungeonish to facilitate the playing of video games & watching of movies during the daytime. I haven't offered that little fact up to him, either. I think this is a beautiful door and it's the one I would have picked for sure. It'll let the dogs look outside without having to stand up on the door!

Next step, we'll have to get a prettier door knob & bolt lock for it.

Also, I have a product endorsement! I have these lovely laminate floors in my home. But I'm not the most attentive housekeeper, I'm not going to sweep twice a day and I have dogs that run across my floor & scratch it up & we wear shoes inside and very soon your floors start looking scratched & worn & nothing really makes them SHINE again even when they're perfectly clean.

It's been driving me crazy! I've tried all kinds of cleaning products, from vinegar water of all temps (on a damp mop) to specialized wood floor cleaners - all with the same results. Nothing made them shiny again!

So my last trip to Wal-Mart I picked up an inexpensive green bottle of something called "Weiman Floor Polish". It was around $5 and is self-touted as eco-friendly and safe for wood, laminate, and tile floors.

It freaking worked!!!!!!!!!!! Look at the before picture below. Clean but dingy.

Then the area I slicked-down with the polish... do you know how hard it is to get a picture of a shiny surface? Too many tries, let me tell you.

The shine is what it looks like wet AND dry! Look, my toes are on it and it's perfectly dry and it looks like glass! I'm so freaking happy I could do the dance. I am going to run back to Wal-Mart and buy all they have of this stuff. A lifetime supply!

Hope y'all have a great weekend, I'm off to go to a friend's wedding in Bowling Green.