Monday, November 30, 2009

Sometimes, Change is Good

Last Christmas was the first year that I didn't go completely overboard and charge things I regretted as soon as the credit card statements January rolled in. The surest way to make sure I didn't hate myself in the new year, was to pay cash for every purchase. Our family really scaled back on the retail end of things and enjoyed ourselves just as much, probably more.

This year, my siblings and our families have agreed not to exchange gifts. None of us needs anything, and all of us are a little tired of this holiday over-merchandising, so this is perfect. For a couple of siblings, I already had some gifts in the works, but no mind, they'll make perfect birthday gifts. I'll still get some gifts for my immediate family, but it won't be the free for all that I've tended to get sucked into in the past.

I'm enjoying this new practice when it comes to gift giving. I do have some die hard friends who love exchanging small gifts, so I'll continue this, but the rest of it is a relief to let go. And I'm quite sure, I'll be buying more chickens and roosters for my friend's CSA outreach program in Nicaragua. I wondered about the family who got the chickens last year. Did they have eggs to eat and sell? Did the chickens survive? Is that family's life better? It warms my heart to think something so small--the cost of one or two unwanted gifts here--would make a huge difference to someone in need.

So to all those big retailers out there, I'm sorry, but I won't be partaking in this annual mad rush to buy goods I don't want or need. My digits won't be in your final tally on the last, or any other Friday. To local retailers, I promise to shop in your stores this season to purchase the things I think the small group of people I do exchange gifts with will enjoy. I'm going to practice 3/50 mindfulness when I head out the door with my recycled shopping bags.

Lucky for me, you're all in walking distance.

How about you? How will you lighten your burdens this holiday season?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's the Little Things

My family has much to be thankful for today. We're all employed in a time when so many are not. We each have a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs and security. In these times, not one of us takes these blessings for granted.

This Thanksgiving though, I was feeling something missing. I couldn't put my finger on it until a surprise visitor arrived. Mr. Mocha Latte showed up at my door around 10 AM, meowing, cold and hungry, and suddenly, I recognized that it was my DukeDog I was missing. It's my first big holiday cooking without him mooching and stealing food. Now I know Mr. Latte is a cat, but he's a friendly guy and on occasion, provides a little companionship for me. Usually, he stops by when it's raining and he can't get in his own house, or when he's tired of the slobbery, overly playful pitbull he lives with. As he had a lie down in front of the vent in my kitchen to warm himself, I cut up a bit of turkey for him.

He ate it all, purred like a crazy cat, then went upstairs to have a nap in my bed. By mid afternoon, he was done with me and went home. The kitty filled an otherwise empty space for me today, and I was thankful for his visit. I think he was thankful, too.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and find more than a few little things to warm your heart today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Head Examination Needed Stat

Due to complex needs of multiple patients and a relative paucity of nurses willing to pitch in and give up their holidays, I'm working a double tonight. Not to worry though--the turkey is cooling, the potatoes are cooked and all that's left is the salad, dressing, pies and green beans to deal with.

Come next Friday, I can cash that plump(er) check and do a little holiday shopping.

Let's hope for a silent hospice schedule for the on call nurse come 8 PM tonight. I can use all the juju I can get.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Offside Interference

Today I feel wise and on top of things. The shopping for Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner is complete, the menu is written and it's all over but the cooking, the belt loosening, food coma and the dishes. Some people are preparing for Thursday in other ways. For instance, my daughter has rented The Ref to get some pointers.

After yesterday's post, I started rereading some of the items in my insane asylum, including the Easter post about the lovely time we had with my father in law. You see, the heat is on and some people, OK, one person, is starting to ramp up about what he can bring for dinner. After the Easter offerings, I've been telling my husband and my son that he can bring nothing to the table. Nada. Zilch. Please, please, his company is enough! Of course, this is going over like a lead balloon because it's removing control and MLTL, not content with just being a guest, is starting to write his own menu. For instance, how about ordering turkey and all the fixings from a local catering company and eating at his house? No. I don't want to chase Rachel all over his house to keep her out of trouble. I want to be comfortable with her. Well then, he'd like to buy the ham we'll eat. Ham? He wants me to cook a fresh ham for Thanksgiving dinner. For my entire life, it's always been turkey and I'm not about to change that. I don't know what it is about ham, but he always talks about this meat. It has to be served at every single holiday meal for him, or the meal is incomplete.

About 20 years ago, a little after the birth of my son, I took it upon myself to host a gigantic family meal on Christmas Eve. I invited my in laws and their assorted relatives, including THE aunts. After slaving all day at the stove to make everything perfect, we all sat down to the table and my father in law said, "where's the ham I bought?" He had left it at his house 3 miles away. Making such a fuss that he had to have that ham, my husband left to go fetch it. By the time he returned, everyone else, including my father in law, had eaten what I'd prepared. Dinner was over and some tempers were simmering just below the boiling point. MLTL was angry because his wife (not him) had forgotten his ham and during dinner, we got to listen to him chastise her for her lapse of memory. My husband was royally pissed that he had to go fetch a ham that nobody else wanted. I was furious that this man had disrupted the dinner I'd prepared for days for something only he wanted. MLTL had ruined dinner, which was his subconscious plan all along, but he got his ham. I never said a word to him about that ham that nobody ate, but I will say, it was the last time I cooked a meal for 30 people.

This time, I'd finally like to tell MLTL what to do with that ham he wants me to cook on Thursday, but because it's a no win situation, I won't. But neither will I cook it for him. If he wants it, he can babysit a fresh ham in the oven all by himself. Instead, I'm going to practice the sage advice of Distracted by Shiny Objects:

"Have you ever tried the trick of mentally going through the grocery store and putting items in your cart alphabetically?? apples, bananas, cherries, doughnuts, etc...makes you look like you're listening to a conversation but allows you to be a bit removed. I've found it helpful a time or two."

If that doesn't work, I've stocked up on wine...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Advertising

Lately, one of my posts from ages ago has been plagued by some moron trying to sell me a mail order bride. Apparently, she's willing to do anything I want, but unless she's willing to cook or clean, I'm not interested. I'm also willing to wager that no matter what it is she'll do, all bets are off once she gets her green card. And then what? I'd have to find a new housekeeper. As much as it pains me, I'll have to say no thanks to this offer.

If I didn't have email notification of new comments, I wouldn't even know of the sale. Who goes back to look at posts from months ago? Three times in the past week, I've had to go back to one of my original posts about my husband's aunts and delete the offers. I could moderate posts, but I myself prefer the instant posting of my comments on other's blogs and don't really want to go this route. I've tried captcha, or word verification, but in this case, I may be dealing with a real human, or a machine that gets the word. I did the next best thing and disabled comments on that post. I hope that whoever is trying to advertise on my blog without my permission, gives up with that one post. It's the one with the bridal gown photo at the top, so I'm hopeful that's the case. If not, I'd hate to go back and disable commenting on all 600 or so posts. We'll have to see.

In the meantime, I'd better get the mop out and clean the house myself.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

One Thing Leads to Another

Ignoring what was waiting to be plied on my spinning wheel, I liberated a bobbin and set to spinning some wool I bought at the fiber festival in August. I was a woman on a mission: this wool would be spun with a project in mind and I was going to finish spinning, plying, setting the twist and would cast on by Sunday.

That's all well and good, but the final count of handspun fell a little short in the yardage 200 yards short and the fiber was one of a kind. What's a spinning knitter to do? Contemplate. Sleep on it. The answer will come.

By this morning, I knew I would do a two toned project (they're--Lord, help me-- felted ballerina slippers). I was certain I knew exactly where a skein of gray yarn (commercial) and a skein of teal yarn existed in my closet and set to finding them. I have a ball of the plum colored wool, but sort of want to save that for one big project. Besides, I was a bit tired of the wheel and wanted something ready to go.

Well...I ran into a lot of yarn I forgot I owned. I always do this. I have 1240 yards of beautiful, red Galway yarn that was supposed to be a sweater. I have another 420 yards of it in the most beautiful shade of green that was supposed to be gloves. There are several skeins of Nashua Creative Focus--green, gray, blue, pink, you name it and I own it! I didn't open the sock box. I have enough going on without opening that box of worms. This is only a wee bit of what I own. The bulk of the spinning fiber is in my bedroom closet with the cedar and lavender.

The last photo is of stuff I never really use anymore. Straights? Uh-uh..too clumsy. Wood circs? No, I'm partial to my Addis and Knit Pick Options. What's a girl to do with this surplus of knitting goodness? Well, today I'm going to sort through it all, package what I don't use and ship it to someone who will do something with it all. Even though I promised her I'd do this last week, I don't think Jadekitty will mind the wait. I promise, it'll be worthwhile. She's teaching her siblings how to knit and I'm quite sure she'll appreciate the options for needles and probably more than few different yarns to choose from.

I hope she has more storage space than me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Match Made in Heaven

I'm confessing here that I've been stalking lurking on Gerly's blog. You know, the Estonian woman who cooks such wonderfully enticing items. I can't help myself. The food looks so good and I'm hooked by the photos.

Today she has what appears to be a banana cake with chocolate icing. What's not to like about that combo? I plugged her directions into google translator. Go ahead, give it a try. I'll wait here for you...

So what do you think? Should I use bananas, or risk it all and use 3 fingers? I have the fingers handy, but I'm fresh out of bananas.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Best Laid Plans

If this Thanksgiving is anything like last year's, my plan is to be better prepared so that I can enjoy my one day off, too. It's my belief that if I want to feel thankful after cooking for my brood all day, I need to lighten the burden a bit. Last year, I had an incredibly busy work night before the big day, which left little time for doing prep work I'd planned to do the evening before. I got up on Thursday at the crack of dawn to spend the entire day slaving in the kitchen. This year, I'm a little better educated about the combo of holidaze and hospice and I'm armed with a plan.

My general plan will be to do as much as humanly possible ahead of time. I will shop for food on Monday. I will not, I repeat not, bake the bread myself--I'll do like every other wise woman and hit the bakery. The turkey will be brined on Tuesday and roasted on Wednesday morning, sliced, smothered in stock and refrigerated in the dish I'll use to reheat it on Thursday. Sticky fingers will be smashed with a rolling pin if I wake up on Thursday and the pre-cooked turkey is all gone. While the turkey roasts on Wednesday, I'll prepare the fat laden-make ahead mashed potatoes and the mise en place for everything else I think I'll need on the big day. If Wednesday night proves light, I'll set the table, make the cranberry Waldorf salad and bake the pie (the crust is ready). This general plan will help ensure that Thursday will be enjoyable for me. Most of the items will need to go from fridge to oven with little fuss.

Come Thursday morning, I will sleep in and take an inordinate amount of time to sip coffee, read the news, watch the parade and chill. Later, while everything is reheating in the oven, I will sit and knit, or spin, sip the wine and laugh because I was so wise.

That's the plan. Now let's see how I can mess it up...

Photo: Google Images

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Take With a Grain of Salt

Tell Me, Did We Just Get Punked?

Just the other day, my colleague and I were talking about certain drugs we used to use for patients in the ICU. These were drugs that had no evidence of really making a difference, but more or less, drugs that we pumped into a patient in a sort of Hail Mary pass. This exchange was part of a broader discussion of being grateful that we work in a more modern environment of evidence based medicine where clinicians prefer proof (evidence) that drugs (or treatments) work the way we're told they will before we use them. I can tell you that in 25 years of nursing, I've given medications that were ordered by the doctor only because that's the way it's always been done, and I've given medications because studies have proven those drugs to work for the condition being treated. I much prefer the latter.

In the news this week is the controversial recommendation regarding breast cancer screening that is based on a computer model. I'm a bit shocked at the outcomes of this new study that recommends no routine screening until after the age of 50. And no self breast exam? Are you kidding me? I personally know of 3 women who found their own cancers with their very own hands. I personally know 5 women under the age of 50 who have breast cancer--one of whom had a negative mammogram, but a positive breast coil MRI she had to fight to get insurance approval to have. She was in her mid-thirties at the time of diagnosis and the only thing that bothered her was a pain in her breast.

Do these computer models really provide the evidence that doctors need to make intelligent and informed decisions about what tests they order? Do the statistics that show improved outcomes for those diagnosed early even matter? How about the decline in deaths for women in their 40s because they got screened early? Does that count? The new recommendations state that women with a high risk history should have early mammography, but how about the 75% of women who have no history to speak of, but have breast cancer none the less? Should they wait until their disease is so advanced, the only available treatment will be hospice at the time of diagnosis? Don't think this doesn't (still) happen all the time. It does, and I really don't want to see it happen more.

How many radiologists specializing in mammography screening sat on the panel that came up with these new suggestions? It's a trick question, because a wise person would guess that at least one of them was a specialist in this field, right?

Here is the American Cancer Society response to the recent recommendations.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Wish I Knew How to Quit You

I'm going to out myself here...

...I have a problem with finishing projects.

Hello, my name is Rudee, and I suffer from sweater interuptitis.

To be sure, some are mistakes that I can't rip out because either I've put too much time into them, or I'm in a deep state of denial. Take your pick of excuses, I know I do. Sometimes, I get an inkling that something isn't quite right very early on when it would be easier to rip back and start over, but for whatever dumb reason, I soldier on putting the needle into one stitch after another. By the time I face facts, the entire thing is done. Other mistakes don't reveal themselves until the end of the project and then end up hidden at the bottom of a bag or box. If it's yarn that I'm spinning, it'll languish on a bobbin until I need the bobbin, at which point, I'll skein the mistake and tell myself I'll use it for something.

Oh for goodness sake! It only needs a few more inches on one sleeve and 2 sleeve seams. It would take about 2 hours...tops.

Right now, I have 4 socks that have no mates: one pink, one blue, one green and one is Dream in Color in Chinatown Apple. One is a hard lace pattern, and the others are plain. Perhaps I should donate these singletons to a woman who has lost a foot. Seriously. I also have a half finished sweater (Juliette), because at the time I started knitting this, lace flustered me. Now I look at it and know that the entire thing needs to be ripped out and started over. Subsequently, I stuffed it in a bag at the back of the closet. Same for the ladder and gate lace shawl. And the baby blanket I began and knit halfway before deciding the yarn was all wrong for the pattern. What in the hell is wrong with me?

Weave in the ends and block me, or you'll have nobody to blame but yourself when it's 20 below zero and your head is cold! This is my second Fair Isle hat. Laurie won the first.

A few of the things that are incomplete are inexplicable. I don't know why I haven't finished them, other than to say I have no project loyalty, or quite possibly, the attention span of a gnat.

For crying out loud! Would you felt me already?

Time to finish this one? Oh, 10 minutes. Tops.

The photos I've included are not my mistakes. Soon though, we'll need an addition on the home to house them all. These photos are items that are so close to being done and have not one thing wrong with them, other than the fact that they belong to a knitter who can't seem to finish anything.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Laurie H... Random Number Generator has determined that you will have a stylish way to help keep your noggin and your ears warm during your cold Minnesota winter! Even better, your contribution to Cups of Kindness will help feed many hungry people. If this combination of winning and giving doesn't make you feel all warm and fuzzy, I don't know what will.

Send me your address (the one I had was lost with the laptop I killed), and I'll ship it this week.

Congratulations, and thank you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Power of One Hats Off "Giveaway"

Here is a photo of my perfectly good, but slightly large, Andre the Giant Fair Isle Hat being blocked. If you want it, you can have it, but it's going to cost you--how much, I'll leave up to you. If you win it, dig deep because the cause is a good one. To consider a starting point, it has about $30 in materials with no mention of time or angst.

In a pay it forward way, this hat can be yours for a donation to Cups of Kindness, which raises money for the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. Every dollar donated provides 7 meals for people in need and Lord knows, there's a lot of those these days.

I'd promised Debra at From Skilled Hands that I'd donate something this year and promptly forgot. With her blessing and my mistake, I'm going to make that up to her. So, if you want the hat, leave a comment here. On Monday, I'll number your comments from first to last and put it in a random number generator and draw the winning number. If it goes well, maybe I'll do another one.

The photo above is the hat drying after a good soak. The only things missing are the braided ties which I'll add once it's dry. I'll admit, I washed it (but not felted), spun it in the washing machine and dried it on medium in the drier. It shrunk a smidge but should fit a head size of 22 inches--or 21 inches with big hair. It won't stretch bigger because fair isle doesn't have a lot of give. The colors are brown, yellow, cranberry and a hint of purple. The fiber is Blue Sky Alpaca and it's softer than a babe's behind. If you live in a cold climate, I can give you a money back guarantee that your ears and head will not be cold this winter.

So are you still interested in helping me be a do-gooder? Just think...with your donation, you'll be one, too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Size Matters

And don't ever let anyone tell you any differently.

Last Thursday night, I ran up to the yarn store to pick up the yarn to start the hat (homework) for the class on Saturday. I knit the ear flaps--all the while thinking, my, what big ear flaps these are. Well, no matter, all the better to keep my ears warm this winter. Right?

During class on Saturday, the other women around the table were talking about their total stitch counts of 144. Me? I had 156. No matter...they must be knitting the small size. Right? Wrong. They were all knitting the medium size and I was knitting the Andre the Giant size. Rather than rip it out right then and there, I continued. All the while I knit this hat, I told myself, it'll be OK. You have a big head.

Well I don't have that big of a head, and I don't know anyone who does. Maybe if I knew someone with big hair and a big head, I'd still be OK. Since I continued on in my delusional knitting trance and finished the hat, I have three choices now:
  1. I can rip it all out and start over. (I even wove in all those stupid ends and with Fair Isle, that's a lot of ends).
  2. I can donate it to Project Runway for a Biggest Loser episode. Oh wait...I'm getting my reality shows mixed up.
  3. I can felt it. We all know what happened the last time I attempted felting a hat.
So tell me, what would you do?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Smitten With Knittin'

Public Side

The heretofore unconquered world of color knitting is mine. Mine I say! All mine!

Just as pretty private side

That's as good as the photos will get tonight. My camera is at the Grand Rapids Metallica concert. Better it, than me.

Photos: First attempt at Fair Isle by RudeeK and her trusty MacBook Photobooth

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lost Weekend

I've been reading through your comments from my last post, and I can't thank you all enough for your support. It really is frightening to be out there, alone in a stranger's home, and subjected to verbal abuse. This has only happened to me once before, but it always makes me question why I do what I do for a living. I don't earn any extra for this kind of work. I'd make the same to work within 4 walls. By yesterday morning, I'd learned the underlying cause of the previous night's drama was my good old pal, ETOH, or alcohol. Such a surprise, isn't it? It's always the female drinkers who surprise me, and really? I should know better. I should have suspected it in the first place, but I like to believe the more romantic notions of loss, grief and anxiety before I believe substance abuse. Note to Nurse Rudee: when ya gonna learn? Not everyone has normal methods of coping. All I can say is that trouble maker had to have some pretty good mouthwash, because I never suspected. Not even once, and thanks to an ex-husband, I've got a pretty sharp nose for drinkers.

I hear the weather was simply spectacular today. I wouldn't know since I spent the day sleeping. Awakening at dusk on my only day off, I felt I little better, but still not great. I've come down with some sort of GI bug and I didn't get a whole lot of rest last night. My son asked me if I felt bad today. He knew I did because he didn't see me knitting at all. He's kept me company all day and made sure my glass of Coca-Cola was topped off. He's a good guy.

The photo at the top is the fruit of my labors yesterday. I'm taking a Fair Isle class and making a hat. There'll be a total of 4 colors used and in the photo, you see the brown, yellow and cranberry. The fourth is purple. The yarn is alpaca with a twist and it's sooooo soft. I'm stuck where I am because I left the pattern in the yarn store and they're closed until Monday at 10 AM. Don't think I won't be pounding on the door at 10 sharp.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

About Last Night

Sometimes this job sucks the ever loving soul out of a person. How I wish there weren't laws that prevented me from discussing this job of mine, but there are. So I won't and you'll just have to put 2 and 2 together.

My 8 hour shift turned into a 16 hour debacle because somebody didn't do their job correctly--because of that, I worked a double. I'm even too tired to spin today, though I did take my knitting up to the yarn store so I could partake in group therapy. It was refreshing--especially since none of those ladies used the F word, or called me a liar, or screamed the word bullsh*t at me a hundred times.

When I got home in the wee hours from work, I went upstairs to grab a pillow and a blankie with a plan to finish my last 5 hours of on call with a nap on the sofa. Tip-toeing down the stairs so I wouldn't wake the house, I slipped on the bottom step, whacked my wrist on the banister and landed sideways on my ankle. My ankle is OK, but I'm concerned about my wrist. I have an abrasion, tenderness and some swelling, but pain that shoots down into my thumb. It hurts, but not as much as my psyche after a night of abuse. I'm trying to let these feelings go though, because in the midst of all of that chaos, I was graced in manner I did not expect.

You see, I was ripping my trunk apart looking for equipment my patient had to have. Overwhelmed with anxiety because someone was cursing at me I couldn't find it, I was getting more and more frustrated and beginning to question the memory that made me think it was even there in the first place. I stepped back from my trunk, looked up at the sky and asked God, "please put that suction catheter in my hand." Two seconds later, I lifted a file folder and there it was...the answer to my prayer. Instant calm.

In the aftermath of such a crappy night, it pays off to remember that though I may have felt isolated and alone, I wasn't. Not really.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Art Imitating Nature

Albino Peacock, Photo: Wiki Commons

When I find myself consumed by a project, it's sometimes hard to see I'm advancing toward the goal--especially when the project is a lace shawl. This time, though the finish line seems far off, I seem to sense real progress. Already, it weighs more than Ruby did after completion and I'm only about 30% done. Ruby, all done, was slightly less than 200 grams--less than half a pound. This shawl will weigh 775 grams, or just shy of two pounds when finished.

Albino Peacock, Photo: RudeeK

After falling into the rhythm of this pattern, I find it easier to do more than one thing at a time. In the beginning, I had to seclude myself while knitting. At least now, I can see when my stitch count is off, usually from a forgotten yarn over, and correct it without losing my mind. I'm not gloating, and I'm not omitting lifelines. I'm just saying that now that the pattern is well established, I can see where I'm going from where I've been.

At present, I'm half way through the rows (completed row 110 of 219), into the second cone of yarn, and well on my way to a stunning shawl for me. It just needs a name. How can I spend this much time with one piece of knitting and not call it something besides the peacock shawl, even though that's what the pattern is named? It's not any shade of blue or green. Yet.

Peacocks' Feathers, Location, Vancouver, British Columbia
Photo: Kyle Flood, Courtesy of Wiki Commons

"Blue Hole: Aerial view of the 400-ft-deep oceanic blue hole (Lighthouse Reef Atoll Blue Hole) located east of Belize."
Photo: U.S. Geological Survey, Courtesy of Wiki Commons

While researching names for shades of blue, I came upon a couple of photos. Is it just me, or does it seem as though nature is imitating nature in these pictures? Certainly, I can't duplicate nature, but it seems this pattern is coming fairly close.

The Big Albino Shawl Hole, Location, somewhere in suburban Detroit
Photo: RudeeK

I cannot for the life of me come up with a name for this shawl. Can you?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

ISO: A Translator

Not that I'm bored with y'all, but every once in awhile, I go to the top of my home page and start clicking the next blog button. Last year, doing just that, I stumbled upon a poignant homage a woman wrote to her husband who had just died. It took my breath away. It made me cry. Across the wires, I felt concern and wanted to be there for her, but her words were so touching and intimate that I felt like an intruder. Sadly, I didn't bookmark the site and couldn't find it when I went looking. I wonder how she's doing and if her broken heart is mending, or at the very least, if she can breathe again.

Today was different though. Today I came across this site, and I can say with confidence, not only do I love Estonian lace patterns, I think I may be in love with the food from the region. I now find myself in dire need of not only a perfectly glazed sweet potato recipe, but someone who can translate this woman's entire website for me. I wonder, do you think Gerly knits that stunning lace the woman of her country are well known for?

Yeah, I bookmarked her blog. One of these days, I'll come across someone, somewhere, who can tell me exactly how much feta I need to make that beautiful mac and cheese casserole on her site.

Tell me, do you speak eesti keel? Judging from the pictures, it may be a language of love.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Tuesday, I came home from work after a drive by Trader Joe's. I scored organic carrots, pomegranate juice, and of course, the macaroni and cheese. I may or may not have picked up a bag of Druid Circles. That's for me to know and nobody else to find out. I was going to finish my charting and make the Pomegranate Glazed Carrots from the Thanksgiving issue of Fine Cooking. I'm trying to pound out my turkey day menu and try out new things ahead of time. On Saturday, I made some mashed sweet potatoes with fresh ginger. I liked the dish, but I was the only one who ate them. About a week or so ago, in fact, it was the day of the pedicure, I was talking of boycotting Thanksgiving. I wanted to go serve in a soup kitchen and make reservations for myself for dinner out. Well, it seems every place has the volunteers they need for that day, so it's back to the original plan of slaving in the kitchen on the holiday.

Back to the glazed carrots...well, let's just say they weren't as pretty as the picture in the magazine and the carrots had no tooth, but they were sweet, tart and very tasty. Next time, I'll use the right ingredients and cook the them in smaller batches so they brown before turning too soft. The honey, balsamic and pomegranate juice cooked down to a sort of muddy looking glaze though. I'll admit it here, I didn't have any chicken broth, so I cannibalized a package of Ramen noodles, stole the broth packet and used that. I didn't have fresh mint, either, and used dried. I think if you want a dish to turn out right, you should start with the correct ingredients.

Back to my personal ad title: In Search of Patty's Perfectly Glazed Sweet Potato Recipe.

My mother in law made three things perfectly that I can't figure out. The first was her chicken and dumplings. Not the poofie dumplings, the perfectly flat, wanna be a noodle type of dumpling. Her pot roast was the best I ever tasted and the carrots she served with the roast were perfectly seasoned and caramelized. And that woman, God rest her soul, made the best baked sweet potatoes that were swimming in a glaze that tasted of brown sugar and butter. I've tried and tried, but can't duplicate it to save my life. The glaze was perfect, and the sauce never broke like it does when I make it. Which one of you can duplicate that for me or at least come close? I'm willing to try any marshmallow free recipe that you send my way.

So, do you have a recipe that sounds close? Can you help a girl out?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Example of Useless Time Spent

In keeping with yesterday's post and the general theme of boredom, there are many things I do to waste time. Most of my down time is spent doing something productive, like knitting, but a lot some of it isn't. Between rounds of lace, I've had a game of Text Twist going on Yahoo for about 2 days now.

With trepidation, I began the last round with a point score of 992,000. Only once before have I gotten this high a score and couldn't break the 1,000,000 mark. I didn't do it this time, either, and died a miserable death at 999, 250 points. I got hung up on penury, which means extreme poverty. The dictionary example was, "he died in a state of virtual penury." Well, Mr. Example probably died from that state, but you get the point. He's dead and so is my game.

I guess I best get knitting. One more purl row and then I'll sink another lifeline. I don't want that to die on me, now do I?

Monday, November 2, 2009

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

Do you remember the old school bus song, 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall? I doubt they sing that on school road trips anymore. Or if they do, in order to be politically correct, the subject has been changed to a syrupy drink instead of beer. It doesn't sound right to say, 99 Bottles of Pepsi on the Wall. It just doesn't flow for me. I don't know what was more boring: the bus rides or the repetition of the song. I bring it up because I'm at a point in the peacock shawl where I'd rather poke myself in the eyes with my Addi turbo needles than knit one more never ending row of lace. Those charming return purl rows I was lauding the other day? I take it all back. They take forever, too.

I've completed 42 % of the rows, but don't go getting excited because I've only used 26 % of the yarn. That means I'm only about a quarter of the way through this in a week's time. And that is the problem with shawls. They grow and grow and grow until the blob is too heavy to knit for any length of time and my little knitter's pea brain is led astray. In a few more rows, it's about to double in stitches again and then it's going to take me for-freaking-ever to get through one row.

I think I could use one of those beers right about now.