Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Must get happy. I'm pissing myself off.
What’s wrong with this picture. Wasn’t I all thankful and shit just a few days ago? What happened?
Oh yeah, I remembered that I have a test this week that I haven’t studied for at all and it’s going to be killer since my A&P professor is under the impression that he was supposed to start teaching us chemistry last month. Suffice it to say, I have spent the last three days doing nothing but working, studying, and sleeping, and I will be doing more of the same for the next two. Which makes for a very grumpy, whiny Katie.
So, here is a list of things that I feel happy about at this moment:
1. There is still some cranberry upside down cake in the kitchen.
2. There is also some Cool Whip….
3. I know that I am getting an electric blanket from someone for Christmas.
4. I know that I am getting a SWAK gift certificate from someone for Christmas!
5. My family cannot keep secrets about presents and if they buy a present for someone early, they usually cannot keep from giving it to them early as well. It cracks me up.
6. I recently figured out that I can rent books on tape/CD from the library and listen to them while I knit. (Yeah, all right, I’m kind of slow, y’all. That’s why it’s taking me so long to finish school—you can quit reminding me). Anyway, I am keeping myself awake tonight by alternating studying with some listening and knitting.
7. The heater just clicked on.
9. March of the Penguins will arrive today. Netflix, I love you!
10. The cake and the Cool Whip are no longer in the kitchen. They are happily married on a plate in my lap!
There, I already feel much better. Don’t be surprised if there are many such lists on this blog by the time I graduate…two years from now!
Saturday, November 26, 2005
I love this guy.
And now I must finish watching Giant, which in case you didn't know, is THREE AND A HALF HOURS LONG and so not worth it. But I won't quit in the middle, I won't. About an hour to go and I can chuck it and its red Netflix envelope out the front door and never think about these wasted hours again. Next Netflix DVD to watch: Lost, Season 1, Disc 4. Woohooooo!!!!
Friday, November 25, 2005
If you value your life, don't go shopping today.
Luckily, my family now tries to include their weird vegetarian relatives (me and Rick) in this, my favorite holiday meal. This was not always the case. When I first stopped eating meat at age sixteen, my family didn't know what to do about Thanksgiving dinner. Neither did I, as I didn't know how to cook (I'd been surviving on cereal and Taco Bell for months). Obviously, I didn't want to eat the turkey or the ham. But it was pretty disappointing to discover that the dressing is made with chicken broth or that the green bean casserole has bacon in it! "Can I even eat the cranberry salad? Please don't tell me there's meat in pumpkin pie!" Basically, my early vegetarian Thanksgiving dinners consisted of mashed potatoes and dessert.
When Rick and I moved to Boise and could not spend Thanksgiving with our families, we decided to make our own turkey-less meals. And it was awesome. We had dressing, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, cranberry chutney, rolls, corn on the cob, broccoli-cheese casserole, and two pies: pecan and pumpkin.
All this for two people. I told you I am a big eater.
We had a blast, cooking all day for...ourselves! And we didn't have to worry about the hidden meat products. And we don't have to now, either. My family has come to terms with the fact that Katie no longer eats meat. And that she married a tree-hugging vegetarian and brought him into the family for backup. My grandma makes a pan of dressing, sans chicken broth, just for the two of us. People bring veggie dishes that are truly veggie. I still eat a lot of pie, but that's just because...it's Thanksgiving! It's the heartland! I heart pie!
I wish I had some pictures of the holiday spread to share with you. But you see, I am a terrible blogger. I took my camera to Mom's, really I did. I even brought it in the house. But I was too busy stuffing my face to take a single shot. Just now, I went to the kitchen and snapped some pictures of the leftover sweets, but...now that I'm looking at them on the screen, it seems a bit odd to post pictures of half-eaten food. Not nearly as appetizing as it is in person. So let me just name off the post-Thanksgiving desserts we have in our house: pumpkin pie, oatmeal cookies, cranberry upside-down cake, and apple pie. Hooray!
And now let me warn you about what is out there today, if you must go to any store or shoppe of any kind. This morning, I woke up at 4 am to go to Circuit City. The family is going in together for an Ipod for our youngest member, and they are on sale today, today being the day after Thanksgiving. I had never before ventured out for shopping on this day, this fourth Friday of November, since I am a fan neither of crowds or of shopping.
I am still not.
I arrived at Circuit City at 4:55 am; they were scheduled to open at 5. When I arrived, the ENTIRE parking lot was full. I had to park at the grocery store next door. The line of people went around the front of the store, down the side, and finally, to the back of the store. I stood in line and waited, not believing my eyes. There were more people in this line than for Goblet of Fire! WTF!
As the line slowly progressed, Circuit City employees would periodically come out and announce, "If you are here for the HP blah-blah-blah on sale, it is sold out." Stuff like that. The store had only been open for five minutes! Once I made it inside, I literally had to thrash my way through the crowd. People were yelling loudly at each other, stepping over each other in a race to get that last DVD surround sound system. I didn't see a fire code maximum sign, but I'm sure we were over it by, oh...hundreds. There should definitely have been some paramedics on hand. Thankfully, it only took me ten minutes to find the Ipod and FREE case (!), but then I had to stand in the checkout line for thirty minutes!!! The entire time, I could hear people discussing "Day after Thanksgiving" shopping. Apparently, these crazy folks do this EVERY YEAR! Some were discussing their purchases, some recounting their shopping plans and where they were headed next. One woman told a Circuit City employee, "At Best Buy, they always pass out donuts to everyone." At least, they weren't playing Christmas music. I don't think I could have endured that for thirty minutes.
Damn, is it Christmas already? I'm ready for some more Thanksgiving.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Last year, for Christmas, I received my very own wand. Rick spent a month in the garage, building something secret. I wasn’t allowed in the garage the entire time, and I had no idea what he could be doing. Turns out, he was creating a home-made lathe (since a real one costs from $700-$4,000!), a home-made wand, and a beautiful box for it.
The box is made out of black velvet with silver letters: Ollivanders, Makers of Fine Wands Since 382 B.C.
Rick included an owner’s manual with guidelines for use and instructions on how to “swish and flick”. Some of the information: Whether this is your first wand or you are a wizard of The Order of Merlin First Class, there are a few things you should be made aware of. Your Ollivander’s Wand is for external use only. Under no circumstances should your Ollivander’s Wand be left within easy access of muggles. For comments or questions, direct all owl posts to: Ollivander’s Wands, Diagon Alley, London, England. Please allow 2 to 3 business hours for responses.
And here's the wand:
Rickus loves his garage. Here I am summoning him from his hiding hole. “Accio Rickus!”
Hmm. Is it a wand or a knitting needle?
It is definitely a wand, but I need to work on my knitting spells. My hats still resemble wooly bladders.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Harry Potter et la Coupe de Feu
I got to see Coupe de Feu at the midnight showing at Harkins Theater in Bricktown, on the largest screen in Oklahoma. Yeehaw! I went with Rick and Rosemary, and it was a blast, but I can't talk about it here because I might spoil it for someone....someone like Nanda, who will be seeing it soon, right? I HATE having books, movies, or any kind of surprise spoiled for me, so I won't say a thing about the movie to anyone who hasn't seen it.
I will say that I had no idea there were so many Potterheads in my little city. The theater sold out the midnight showing, and when we got there at 10:00, the line was already doubling back on itself. Lots of folks in HP clothes. There were these cute teenage girls who had made their own iron-on jersey tees. One had a picture of Lupin and the other had the Weasley twins. How cool is that? And we saw lots of HP knits--primarily the Sorcerer Stone style scarf...I must finish mine for the next winter premiere. And I guess I will say this about the movie: there were lots of knits in the movie that will keep atypicallyknit.com busy, busy, busy. I'm still waiting on her animal cracker hat pattern from PoA, and I NEED to knit this Hermione hat!
I am currently fighting the desire to abandon all Christmas projects, studying, and socializing for a couple weeks of intense Harry Potter re-reading. *sigh*
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
The Gryffindor scarf that isn't.
Here’s how. I’ll show you a picture of some knitting that is not progressing at all.
It's the Gryffindor scarf. I have been working on it for two years now and damn! I thought I was further along than that.
Okay, I really haven’t been working on it for two years. It’s more like I knit a few rows one night. Two years ago. And haven’t picked up those needles since. But in honor of GoF coming out tomorrow night (12:01) and a desire to work on something that isn’t Christmas-related, the scarf came out of the closet last night!
Think I’ll leave it out where I can see it this time. With any luck, I’ll finish before Book 7.
And hey...Blog Ring Rules People? You don't count off for crappy cameras and/or lack of photography skills, right?
Sunday, November 13, 2005
bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble...
I’ve pretty much got the process down now, but it took a lot of time and trial and error. Rick and I have estimated that I probably made 20 or so batches of soap before getting one to work. And that’s a lot of money (and soap) down the drain, peeps! The challenge is that there are so many things that can go wrong at each step. So each time something does go wrong, you have to isolate it, go back, and try again, modifying that one thing. Then, that part might go right, but another step goes wrong. You get the idea. Frustrating, yes. But also fascinating. It’s the scientific process at work!
Here are some pictures of yesterday’s soap-making. There aren’t too many, because timing is crucial in making soap, so I couldn’t stop to snap photos as often as I wanted.
First, here’s a shot of all my soap-making supplies. I’ve accumulated lots of scents, colors, and other ingredients over the years, and since I make a lot of soap, I started ordering the fixed oils (olive, coconut, and palm) in 5 gallon buckets. I keep everything on a big rolling cart that fits into our spare room closet when I’m not making soap.
The first thing I do, after setting everything out with my typical anal precision, is measure out all my oils and heat them up to melt them.
Then I mix my lye with cold water. You have to be very careful during this step. In fact, any book or site about soap-making will tell you to wear gloves and goggles when making soap. Mixing lye and water causes a chemical reaction that will burn your skin (see Fight Club for an example)…but don’t worry, after the soap has cured for a month, it is mild as can be. I used to wear the goggles, gloves, and an apron, but I’ve been doing this so long now that I am just really careful. So far, so good. But kids, do as I say, not as I do. In fact, you shouldn’t be making soap at all and I’m telling your mother!
The lye and cold water instantly heat up to about 160 degrees and create a powerful bunch of fumes that makes you cough and your eyes water if you stand over it…learned that from experience, I did. I tried to get a pic of the fumes, but I don’t think it worked.
And then…we wait. The lye mixture and the oil mixture have to cool down to about 110-125 degrees each. This takes a while. So in the meantime, I get everything else ready. I’m making honey oatmeal soap, so I measure all the goodies that will be added at the end.
When the mixtures are cool enough, I pour the lye water into the oil and use a stick blender to mix the two together. If you mix this with just a spoon and muscle energy, it can take up to two hours to saponify, which is when the two mixtures finally come together enough that it is liquid soap. With the stick blender, it takes about five minutes. Sometimes less, if it’s hot in the room. I love my stick blender!
I pour the saponified soap in to molds, and cover with towels to keep them warm. In twenty four hours, I remove the towels and pop out the individual bars, which will have hardened but are still a little bit soft. And after sitting 28 days, it’s ready to use.
These honey oatmeal soaps look a little like blond brownies or something, so don't get confused and try to eat one! Trust me, they don't taste as good as they look.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Killer Crickets from Outer Space
There, guarding the toilet, is a cricket. And not just any cricket. It is the same mole cricket that has been stalking me and then dodging me once I go for help for the last two weeks. It jumped once for good measure, just to show me its might, its “shock and awe”.
I screamed again.
You see, I am terrified of crickets. It is a completely irrational fear. People tell me so all the time; their rationale is that since they don’t bite, they are nothing to be afraid of. But they jump, people! They JUMP! They jump on you, on walls, anything. If you even try to catch it, it will jump. And their tiny little brains don’t tell them which way to go, so they jump away from you or on to you, there is just no predicting their behavior, and that, my friends, is why they are Terrifying.
I am sure that if I ever went in to psychotherapy and were hypnotized, I would reveal some deep, hidden experience with crickets. But without spending thousands on an analyst, I am clueless about my phobia. All I know is….have you guys ever seen a mole cricket? They are much, much scarier than your regular cricket. For one thing, they don’t make that cricket noise so you don’t know one’s there til you’re right on top of him. And for another thing, they are about twice to three times bigger. Don’t listen to what Rick may tell you….they really are that big.
Speaking of Rick, he usually would have come to my rescue by now, but he’s sleeping with earplugs in because he knew I would be making soap. (It's a loud process.) So it’s just me and the killer cricket. I tried throwing some small items at him to get him to move, and when that didn’t work, I tried turning the light off and leaving for awhile. So far, nothing. He is between me and the toilet and did I mention I drank 20 OUNCES of coke?
Hey, writing that just made me think about how useful towels can be. According to Douglas Adams, you should carry one with you at all times. I think I’ll throw a towel over the cricket and see what happens. I have no idea, because you can’t predict cricket behavior.
Wish me luck!
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Title? Title? I don't have time to think of a title!
I'll have more to say when I have either a day off from work or one off from school. But probably not when I get a day off from both. When that glorious day comes (tomorrow!), it will be mine and mine alone.
And there will be much knitting and calming of nerves.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Harry and the Potters Rock the Library!
I have not mentioned it yet in this blog, but the truth is…I am a Harry Potter junkie. My friends and family know that I have read the books 4 times, that I can pepper almost any conversation with useless Harry Potter movie quotes, and that I have my very own wand. More on the wand in future posts, I am sure.
Anyway, I’ve been a fan of Harry and the Potters for about a year, after hearing about them on Mugglenet (yes, Mugglenet is my homepage. Shut up, y’all!). I very quickly purchased their two CD’s and a T-shirt. They sent me a very nice note, telling me that one of their favorite bands is from Oklahoma. And no, it’s not Color Me Badd, thank you very much. It’s the Flaming Lips!
So a couple weeks ago, Rosemary alerted me to the fact that the boys would be in town and we made plans to go. Then last week, it became obvious that the show was being marketed for “Teens Only”. Excuse me? What about us dorky HP-obsessed adults? There are a few of us, you know. Well, Rosemary, being as cool as she is, emailed H and the P’s to let them know that we weren’t going to be allowed in to the show. They were as upset as we were, since they play shows for all ages, and alerted the Moore Library that we should be allowed in. Sure enough, when our entourage (Rosemary, Mary, Rick, Amanda, Justin, and me) arrived Friday evening, our tickets were waiting at the door! Thanks for all your work, Rosemary!
Many, many teens were present. I generally am not a fan of teenagers, but who could resist these cuties, wearing Professor Trelawney costumes and singing along with all the songs? I mean, they knew the words to the songs as well as I do. And dude, you have to be a dork to know all the words to Harry and the Potters songs. At one point, I leaned over and said to Amanda in what I thought was a whisper, “I’m glad to see that there are so many dorky teenagers.” She then let me know that I was not whispering. That I was, in fact, quite loud. Oops.
The band was really….homemade. Not very professional or studio-fied, if you know what I mean. Like Rosemary said, it was kind of like watching a friends’ band play when you were in high school. Drums were knocked over, equipment was faulty, the band members enjoyed jumping off the (short) stage and running around in the audience. It was quite silly, but a lot of fun.
After the show, we high-tailed it to Johnny’s for burgers before I had to go to work, where there was much discussion of the show and of what kind of yarn rat-hair would make! I hope Justin and Amanda don’t mind too much the fact that they drove for two and a half hours to see a high-school style concert in the midst of a bunch of silly teenagers…and a really silly twenty-something friend singing along to “Cornelius Fudge is an Ass” at the top of her lungs.
Please see Rosemary’s site for some pictures. None of the TWENTY pictures taken by our crap camera are even distinguishable.
Santa, won’t you bring me a new camera for Christmas?
Thursday, November 03, 2005
This post is brought to you by the letter "Q". And by...the garter stitch.
It’s knit in the round for double thickness and it is a whopping 8 x 68 inches! Otherwise known as the BIG ASS SCARF. But I’m digressing from the hat…
I’m doing the garter stitch hat from The Yarn Girls Guide to Simple Knits because….I needed a garter stitch hat to match the garter stitch scarf. Man, I haven’t knit this much garter stitch since I don’t know when. It feels kind of like I’m regressing as a knitter to be knitting so much freakin’ garter stitch.
The only exciting thing about this hat was that I was going to modify the pattern to accommodate the yarn I wanted to use. See, the pattern calls for two strands of yarn held together to create a gauge of 4 stitches per inch. Since I knew that I’d get more than 4 stitches per inch with ONE strand of Cascade, I thought I’d get to use the handy dandy guide to pattern modifications found in Stitch ‘N Bitch Nation. You know, take your row gauge x your stitch gauge divided by your height in centimeters and added to the national deficit minus 10% of….
Sorry. Got confused. Anyway, I was really, seriously going to follow SnBN’s guidelines except…..Dammit! I made gauge with one strand of Cascade. That’s right. One strand of Cascade does equal 4 stitches per inch in garter stitch since garter stitch is wider than stockinette! Duh! This is the only time in the history of my hobby that I’ve been unhappy about making gauge on the first try.
So the only interesting part of knitting this hat is gone. Consequently, I have accomplished only this much in one week: Does it look like a hat to you? Me neither.
Since I don’t have a stunning finished hat to show off, I thought I’d display some other garter stitch projects from my past. First is the very first thing I ever knitted, the oh-so-creatively titled Go-Go Garter Stitch Scarf from SnB the Original:
I didn’t have access to Blue Sky Alpaca so I substituted with Rowan Polar. Nice and warm. Love to touch it. Notice the fuck-up on my first ever color change that I didn’t go back to fix because I had worked on this thing for hours and couldn’t bear to unravel it.
Second example of garter stitch: The Frida Poncho from MagKnits, knit in red Cascade 220 (noticing a trend here?) last November. I loved knitting this poncho, not because of the garter stitch, but because of the little leaf pattern. I think it’s such a creative motif, and I guess a lot of other people do too, because I’ve been seeing it on a lot of bloggers’ scarves since this issue of MagKnits came out.
So tonight, I think I'll curl up with the laptop, watch me some Lost: Season One: Disc Three and knock out this little garter stitch hat. I've got to start something interesting soon.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
sealed with a kiss
It’s for Grandma for her birthday. Two skeins of Rowan Cork and some Lantern Moon needles. I will print off this pattern for a lovely buttonhole scarf that she can use the Rowan Cork to make. My camera is a piece of crap, of course, so it’s hard to see what a pretty green this is, but I think it will really look nice with her eyes.
I was a very good girl and didn’t buy a single thing for myself. I did, however, spend an hour in there “just looking.” Several times a salesperson came by and asked, “Are you sure you don’t need any help?” “No,” I’d say with a big sigh, “I’m just looking.” Maybe she was keeping an eye on me because I was really doing more than just looking. I was looking and…touching. I touched every variety of Jo Sharp yarn, and every Rowan as well.
I love touching yarn. Poor Rickus is such a sport to come with me to yarn shops. I spend the entire time going, “Feel this yarn. Isn’t it wonderful? Rick, did you feel it? Did you touch it? You couldn’t have touched it because you aren’t in complete ecstasy like I am right now. What do you mean it’s not that soft? Feel it again. Rick, it’s cashmere. CASHMERE. Trust me it’s really, really soft. Maybe you’re not touching it right. If you were, you’d be moaning like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally right about now. Here, just feel it again. You’ll see how wonderful it is.”
Some things, non-knitters just don’t understand. But Grandma, being a knitter herself, gets it, and I think she’s gonna love this Rowan Cork. Three years ago, when I first wanted to learn to knit, Grandma tried to teach me. Bless her, she was very patient, but I could not understand for anything. I could cast on all day, but the basic knit stitch was TOO HARD. After hours of practice, I managed to knit a couple rows and was extremely proud of myself. But when I resumed knitting two weeks later, I could not remember anything. I was so frustrated I didn't pick up my needles again for another year!
Thanks for all your patience and kindness, Grandma! Now feel that yarn up like you mean it!
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
For the love of sleep!
And now that my head is a little clearer, I can say in retrospect that our Halloween evening went smashingly! The kids were much nicer than I remembered from last year, possibly because this year we handed out the candy rather than letting them grab it for themselves. Last year, we had a huge cauldron full of candy, and it was so heavy that we just told the trick-or-treaters to get some. Well, you can imagine how that worked. HANDFULS disappeared at a time. Rick was sent out for reinforcements more than once.
This year, much nicer, with many more "thank yous". The kids loved our decorations, especially the crow that sits near the front door. A couple kids screamed when they saw it, and several of the younger ones asked if it was real bird and if they could pet it!
Best costume award goes to the kid who dressed up as a slice of pizza.