Tuesday, February 28, 2012

We interrupt this newly apolitical blog

...to say goodbye to the political candidates who have littered this town with rhetoric, ads and dirty tricks.

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

There. I feel better now.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Icing on the cake

The only thing I baked was this diaper cake. It was fun to make and looked so pretty. It was actually one of the games--guess the number of diapers to make the cake and win a prize. Nobody did guess correctly (64).

Sara and I have spent the last several months planning the details of a baby shower for Sara's best friend. For the most part, this has been fun and since we've had a long time to get it all done, it didn't seem to be all that difficult to pull off. Still, even will all of that preparation some of the last minute details left us a little frenzied.

Door prizes...very clever Barefoot wine bottle lights. These were provided by my best friend.

More lights...but this is a night light for the baby.

With fingers crossed for good weather, we sent the invitations out a few weeks ago. You never know what tricks Mother Nature will play in late February. We had a snowstorm Thursday night and most of Friday, but it was all gone today. For all of our efforts, we were blessed with blue skies and sunshine for the day.

Don't want your guests wandering around grazing a dessert table? Get clever and serve cupcakes on a pizza stand and use it as centerpiece!

Those of us who planned this event have had our fingers crossed that the doctor had the due date right. Believe it or not, Dana still has 6 weeks to go before we see what she's been carrying around. We're glad for our own sakes--selfish party planners--that she hung in there!

And now, well the day is done. We have our feet up and there are appetizers (frozen from Trader Joes) that are baking in the oven. The general plan is to watch the red carpet, nibble on the appetizers and then watch the Oscars. That's about as tough as the rest of the day will be.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Three Ds in the Big D

For months now, since November to be exact, I've been staying away from the hair salon so I can grow my hair out. I wasn't shooting for long hair, but I had a particular style in mind. I tolerated what I affectionately call The Poodle Stage, where my hair looks kind of doggie to me no matter what I do to it. It's not short, it's not long and it's a little too bulky. I must spend time fussing with it every single day, or when I'm lazy, cover it with a hand knit hat when out and about.

I put up with the shaggy look even through the holidays, and this just isn't really like me. It's not that I don't like the way I look with short hair but for some reason, I wanted a different style and for that I needed a little bit more hair. So I sucked it up and weathered the bad hair days while scouting magazines and online hairstyles for exactly what I want. In the past two weeks, I've gotten so many complements on how cute my hair was looking, but to me, it was getting really shaggy and I was beginning to sprout that mullet look.

Last week, I decided that while it was moving in the right direction, it needed to be cleaned up a bit, so I booked an appointment with my stylist. Also, Sara and I are hosting a baby shower Sunday and I felt my hair had to be just right for that. Before my appointment on Thursday, I uploaded a picture of exactly what I had in mind to my iPad and took it with me. I gave explicit instructions to my stylist of several years: no thinning scissors, no loss of length, clean up the back, leave the ability to tuck it behind my ears so it can be out of my way when I work and leave the bangs alone.

Did she give me what I asked for or even close to what I was working toward?

Why, no! Of course she didn't.

She gave me the same damn haircut I had 3 months ago!

She cut it all off, including about an inch of bangs which were getting closer to the tuckability point. I think we can all agree that bangs are the biggest pain in the ass to grow out and she chopped them right off. She told me she was evening things up, but it doesn't look even to me: it looks gone. Now I know this is only hair and it will grow back, but I'm so disappointed, slightly dismayed and rather disabused right now. To pour lemon juice on my freshly abraded feelings and for putting me back to square one, I got to pay her an obscene amount of money. In the three months since I've seen her, her prices have gone up and now she earns twice as much as I do in an hour.

To pour salt over the the acidic wounds, I've been buying a salon only L'Oreal product for thermal styling from her and I was out of the goo. I coughed up the ridiculous amount the salon was asking for the product and called it a day. Yes, it's expensive, but it works well and lasts about 6 months. Yesterday while shopping with Sara at a beauty supply store, we found the identical product for $15 dollars less than what the salon was asking. $15!!! That's a 150% markup I was charged. You know, while I don't have a bad haircut, it wasn't what I wanted, but on top of paying for what I didn't want, I got ripped off at the register and that's what seems to have annoyed me most.

I'm not without a plan though. I'm going to grow this hair until I can't bear it for another minute, and then I'm going to get in my car and make the five hour drive to Chicago to see the stylist who broke my heart when he packed up his shears and left for better opportunities five years ago. That's how long it's been since I've been given what I asked for in a hair style.

Alright...that's enough whining for the day. I have to go decorate a diaper cake.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Time makes me forgetful

I spent Saturday night babysitting for my girlfriend's two young sons so she could work while her husband attended a social work function. She was desperate when she asked me, so I agreed with minimal arm twisting. I love her little boys. No fool, I went armed with what I knew her 4 year old would lose his mind over: my iPad. When I got there, this one's father said his son had just endured the longest day of his life wondering when Miss Rudee (that's what he calls me) would finally get there.

We spent the next 5 hours playing. In this enormous toy house, they only wanted what was mine. Including the "balls" in my bag. I'd only turned my attention to the chicken nuggets in the oven for two seconds when I found 3 "balls" of yarn had somehow gone flying across the room which one of the dogs took to be an invitation for a great game of catch.

Somehow I'd forgotten how energetic and creative little boys can be. It's funny how time has a way of erasing these things.

To completely distract the 4 year old, I introduced him to the Photobooth application on my iPad and went about trying to keep the younger one entertained. Talk about trouble. That one--a sixteen month old baby-- is Trouble with a capital T. He is so Quiet (with a capital Q) and I found I couldn't take my eyes off him for one second. He is extremely allergic to milk--anaphylaxis allergic--so I kept one eye on him, another on what he put in his mouth and used the two eyes in the back of my head to watch the pantry and the epipen. I was half terrified that something bad would happen on my watch. I needn't have worried though...as soon as he found it, he was enthralled with my iPhone pretty much the entire time.

There wasn't an electronic device that wasn't covered in fingerprints and drool when I went home. At one point, the baby had even found my keys and pressed the alarm button for my car. For about 5 minutes, I walked around my friend's huge house wondering who the idiot was with the car alarm that wouldn't shut up. Me.

When I got home Saturday night (completely exhausted), I browsed through Photobooth to see what photos the 4 year old had taken of himself. There were about 150 of them. It took me about a half hour to go through and delete most of them (too many taken of the ceiling.) The rest I'll keep in case I need a reminder how hard it is to take care of two young boys.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The break up

This afternoon, I have a meeting to discuss the step down from my full time job into the life of a contingent nurse. I'm not sure how it'll all transpire, but it'll start with a chat and then a leap of faith. After the week I've had, which has not been pretty, I'm more than ready. Of course, I cursed myself this week by saying out loud that last week was a walk down Easy Street.

Apparently, I'm not teachable when it comes to idioms like, let sleeping dogs lie. You'd have thought I would have learned when I had a literal lesson when I messed with Grandpa's sleeping dog, Jezebel, who bit me on the nose in retaliation when I was just a wee thing. Nope. I still have to talk about stuff when I should just zip my lips or still my fingers on the keyboard. In my profession, one should never, under any circumstances, speak of the quiet. Oh, look...I did it again! See? Not too bright.

Late Wednesday night, after an epic smackdown of the hospice variety that I liken to going batshit crazy, I finally clocked out and decided to reward myself by catching up on must see TV. Sara hung out with me and we watched Revenge, which was good, and then caught Top Chef, which was not. What a disappoint TC has become! It's more like Top Chopped. Ridiculous ingredients, ludicrous competitions, I mean really...what is wrong with seeing how well someone can cook beautiful food in a creative manner without these silly set ups? I don't know if I'll watch the finale, because, frankly, I've stopped caring about the outcome.

I mean, honestly, did they really have to cook in a moving gondola to make good television? Or dig their ingredients out of blocks of ice with a pick? Or ski in a race & then target shoot their ingredient list? How stupid was that? Bah! I have better things to do with my precious time than watch what used to be a perfectly good show jump the shark. The entire season has been like this, but still, like a fool, I watched.

Well, not anymore. I'm sorry to say, but Padma and Tom? We're through!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Distracted by yarny objects

Baa-baa black sheep

Well you all had to know that while I like Stephanie's pattern just fine, I would become, um, sidetracked by other needles and yarn at some point while I knit away at that scarf. For some reason, scarves do this to me. Not surprisingly, while I've made several shawls, I don't have a lot of scarves I've knit. Eventually I'll return to this project, but in the meantime, I'm on to something else. Anyways, I'd been minding my own business on Friday when my husband decided to annoy me by starting to clean the house. I didn't want to clean, but felt compelled to do something. So I made up an excuse that I needed to go to the drugstore, which I did, and I left the house.

It was snowing, freezing cold and really blustery and who could blame me if I suddenly felt driven to stop by the yarn store to buy more yarn for a mitten pattern I've been wanting to knit for an entire year? I hadn't planned to go there, but it just so happens that the drug store and yarn store are practically next door to one another. Serendipity, right?

I browsed, trying to spend as much time as humanly possible so I didn't have to clean, too, and came away with two skeins of Stonehedge Farms yarn. For the uninitiated, this glorious yarn is Michigan's answer to Cascade 220. It's around the same price for around the same amount of fiber, comes in a spectacular array of colors just as nice as 220, will felt upon request (and likely also felt when you don't want it to, too), but where it surpasses the staple of our knitting world is in the hand. It is so soft, you wouldn't feel bad clothing a baby in a garment knit from this wool. When this yarn was released, both of my local yarn stores stopped carrying 220. No need for that when we've got the market cornered on better!

I had to eventually go home and pitch in, and had to work a bit at my real job, too, but by Friday night, I had cast on for Meta Mittens, and with the scarf tucked safely aside in a project bag for later work, I began to knit. I'll return to the scarf (I am half way through), but right now, I want these mittens. Immediately!

If you look at the photo, you can see I've adapted the pattern in the cuff. Not wanting anything too boring, I selected a two color Latvian braid cast on. While fiddly, it's not hard, and once again, it leaves me looking like a genius when all I've done is knit one row and purled two. It's a fantastic technique for adding fancy to whimsy, and these mittens are nothing if not whimsical.

Now I can't recall if I've posted my favorite youtube video for this braid before, but I'll post it here in case I haven't. There are several such videos on YT, but I think this one is the most clear and only uses 2 colors at a time. Much easier to understand the technique this way.

Oh, and about last night...around midnight, my sweetie came home from work bearing valentine gifts of chocolate. This took the sting out of watching the WKC Dog Show results. Once again, all is well in the Universe.

...and while I knit this pattern, I can't help but think this pattern would make a really, really cute tea cozy. Me thinks it would.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love, love, love

I've been somewhat free tonight, so I've been able to watch the Westminster Dog Show. I've gotten past the desire to go out and get a new dog Right.This.Minute! We're heading into Best in Show in a minute and I'm rooting for that cute little Doberman. She's so pretty and perky.

Leo has been watching with me and I wouldn't be surprised if he's rooting for her, too.

You know, the German Shepherd is pretty handsome and so is the Kerry Blue Terrier. I'm not so sure about the Pekingese, or the Wire Haired Dachshund, but really, I don't think there are any losers in this group.

It almost makes a chocolate-less Valentine's Day worthwhile.

ETA: Fifi the Doberman was robbed by that hairy Pekingese. Leo is so sad...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Week's end.

Midnight on my street.
It's only 3 months late, but winter is apparently here. Finally!
I wish you could see better, but that's a cupid hanging on K's porch and shining at us from across the street.

Since I don't clock back into work until Monday afternoon, I don't have to worry about cursing myself & I can dare to talk about my week now that it's over.

Something really spooky happened.

Since my full moon instigated Monday night from hell, my phone has not rung once. Not once. It's a miracle that I know is short-lived, so I'll enjoy the week for what it was: Relaxing. No more driving in circles for me! What a treat! I almost felt guilty working so little while collecting a decent salary and then I quickly rethought that position. I've worked like an animal for months and I think the Universe cut me a break after Monday.

I'll just send up a big thank you and leave it at that.

The other miracle? It's finally snowing in Detroit. I got home this evening right before our Canadian friends opened the door and sent a clipper our way. We were supposed to get an inch or so of the fluff, but there is at least 3 times that amount already on the ground and it isn't supposed to let up for another 7 hours. Shovels will be involved in clearing out this mess, but I don't really care. The week is done, work is over and there is no reason to leave the warm confines of my nest.

It's Saturday--a day to rest--with the added bonus of being cozy and warm in my wool.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Waiting for the payoff

Is there anything better than the aroma of bread baking in an oven? I think not. True to my word, I made my first batch of dough from, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, on Saturday. I didn't bake it right away, choosing instead to let flavor develop overnight. I baked the first loaf on Sunday, and while it wasn't bad, I thought it was rather pedestrian. Meh. And small. I had baked it on a cookie sheet because the pizza stone I bought was about a half inch too wide for my oven. Oh, it was crusty alright, but it was too dense and salty. Not what I expected at all and I couldn't figure out what all the commotion was about using wet doughs. In a word, I was disappointed and so tempted to throw out that big bowl of dough taking up space in my fridge.

Instead, I gave myself a little lecture that I always gave new ICU nurses I mentored and trained: Yes, you are a good nurse and you're really smart, but you cannot expect to be an expert in the ICU until you have plenty of experience under your belt and this takes time. What in the world made me think I could be an artisan bread baker my first time out? I absolutely was not going to throw in my bread baking tea towel after my first foray.

Last night, about 2 hours before my shift ended, I opened the fridge for a snack and could swear I smelled beer. The smells in that fridge were intoxicating and my nose pinpointed the bowl of neglected dough as the source. The four day stint in the fridge had produced a rather mature product and I had a fleeting thought that this must be the reason people rave about this recipe.

Throwing caution to the wind and praying the phones would stay silent, I hacked off a 2 pound piece of the dough, fashioned a cloak around it, and set it on the peel to allow it to rest. Around 11:15 PM, I decided I was going to bake this loaf in my fancy ass new dutch oven as initially advised by Sue B in the comments on a past post (also, I haven't returned the ill fitting pizza stone to the store). Following online instructions, I set my stove to scorching hot allowing my dutch oven to come to temperature in the 500 degree heat. When I was certain I was done working for the night, I tossed the dough in the pan, placed the lid atop the pot and waited.

Leo waited, too. He parked his butt on the living room floor with his nose pointed toward the kitchen and over the next 45 minutes, periodically raised his head to sniff the air.

Sara--less patient and more verbal than Leo--asked me at least 3 times how long it would take until she could have warm bread smothered in butter and jam.

When the timer announced the right amount of time had elapsed, I opened the oven to see the most glorious loaf of bread I've ever produced. The loaf was crusty, beautiful and smoking hot. We let it cool precisely 2 minutes before we cut into it to find a light and airy crumb.


I finally understand the fuss.

Sorry no photos. It's all gone. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The good, the bad and the really full moon.

There are no words to describe how incredibly soft this yarn (Adorn sock) feels. The pattern, Stephanie's own Desert Shadows Scarf, is a pleasure to knit, made only that much better by the hand of the yarn. It's looking more and more like the tropics to me...wish I was there.

While not technically full last night, the moon, giant orb in the sky, delivered just enough of the ludicrous to make me aware of its presence. I started my night with a visit to the other side of town to help out my colleague on a minor patient problem. I saw the moon in the east, hanging low, huge and pale in the late afternoon sky, and (since I drive alone) said out loud to nobody in particular, "uh, oh." As I approached my destination and the end of that 25 mile drive, I got a call from my triage nurse telling me to abandon that visit and drive 45 miles west to see a different patient in more need.

I decided right then and there that the moon was going to wreak havoc on the night.

Being a dutiful nurse, I turned around and half way to my new destination, got a second call from my triage nurse who said that since I was the only one free, I just had to put up with her tonight and move my car in yet another direction. She would deal with the other visits by phone, but the third could only be handled in person.

Yes. It was that kind of night and there is only one way to deal with this: Surrender. Complete and utter surrender. We can't fight what is both unseen and bigger than us and if it meant I was going to drive in circles, well that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Though it seemed to drag on interminably, my evening shift did eventually end which allowed me to work on my scarf for a bit. I hit the sack rather late, said a little prayer that the 7th, with the full moon in all its glory, would be a little kinder.

So far, though it's early yet, the day is not too bad. It started with an email that my contingent position has been approved. Feeling no particular need to dawdle over my decision, I immediately sent off my acceptance reply.

Perhaps the moon will be gentler tonight, but I'm no fool. I will be filling my gas tank before my shift starts.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I have a plan

Most of the time, I fly by the seat of my pants on the weekends. I try not to plan ahead and just do as I please. It begins with sleeping in, and then lollygagging in my jammies while sipping coffee all morning long. I don't make a plan, period, or at least I try to get away with that.

Except tomorrow, I do have plans. I'm going to get up early and log onto Target's website to see if I can snag a new Jason Wu tote with that cute little kitty, Mischief, on the side. Target's marketing for this new line has been sort of brilliant: Mischief is in the Details. I won't actually try to get into a Target store tomorrow because there are some who think the release of this line is going to trigger Black Friday-like crowds. I'd rather battle slow servers and pray they don't crash mid purchase.

The rest of my plan for Sunday actually begins today. I'm finally going to crack the cover of, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and make a mother dough. Tomorrow I'll bake. Of course, this will necessitate a trip to a kitchen store today, too, because I need a pizza peel and a pizza stone. Oh, sure, I can use my ceramic dutch oven and the recipe out of Cook's Country, but I want to start this adventure into bread baking with the Artisan book. Besides, I think I should keep the dutch oven free so I can make a side dish for the bread. I also have to stock up on yeast, flour and other additives, like greek olives, and rosemary and, by special request, cheese.

So it's the mall I'll be battling today. I could go to the outdoor mall where crowds won't be too bad, but I think I should go to the mall with 3 kitchen stores that are all lined up on the same side and floor. I'll have my choice of Sur la Table, Williams & Sonoma and Crate and Barrel. It'll be a busier place, but perhaps the better choice. Hate the mall on weekends!

FYI, I had lunch with my boyfriend on Thursday. Don't worry, honey, it was my 4 year old boyfriend. I think he loves me, but I think he loves my iPhone more. He plays Angry Birds all through lunch and then makes me ride the escalator with him. Truly, lunch with my little man is the highlight of my month. Anyways, little Ethan was playing with my iPhone and I turned the volume low so the adults could hear themselves gossip talk. After lunch and work, I set my alarm on my phone for the butt crack of dawn so I could get up and go to a mandatory staff meeting Friday morning and then a meeting with our team leadership. I woke up around 10:00 AM, having slept through the alarm and both meetings because I'd neglected to restore the volume after lunch. Nice. Apparently, I'm already suffering from short timer syndrome!

Friday, February 3, 2012


Do you recall the movie, Heidi, with, Shirley Temple? It was one of my favorite all time movies and one I keep reminding myself needs to be added to my DVD library. I recall how my dad used to get tearful when the grandfather could not find his sweet Heidi. Dad was a sucker for movies like this. I'm sure--in part--because of his love of that movie, he named his first Dachshund Heidi. When he would call her, he would echo the grandfather's plea for Heidi. Heidi! Accent and all.

Well today, there is another Heidi who is in trouble in the next town over from me and is in a fight for her life. It seems this Heidi, a doberman rescue who looks like Leo's twin sister, collided with a stranger on the street when he (suddenly) bent over to pet her. She became excited, lifted her head up and broke the dumb dude's nose. He complained to the police that the leashed and well trained dog attacked him and the police decided to press criminal charges. Even though this was an accidental head-butt (happens with Leo all the time), it's being prosecuted as a bite/attack. In order for the criminal aspect of the charges to be dropped, the city attorney has demanded that Heidi be euthanized or removed from her handler's home.

A petition drive has been started to save Heidi's life. She even has her own website. Proving how well connected our small planet is, many thousands of people from all over the world have weighed in on Heidi's plight and have petitioned to save her life.

Won't you consider joining and helping maintain justice for someone who can't do it for herself?

You can save Heidi here. It only takes a few seconds to sign the petition.

I hope Heidi's outcome is as sweet as the ending of the movie of the same name.

I think we should start a different petition regarding dumb dude, but that's for another post. Who pets a stranger's big dog completely uninvited? Surely he's a candidate for a Darwin Award.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The next best thing

Engulfed in Shadows. My latest WIP.

Thank you all so much for your input on my work dilemma. I spoke to my boss two days ago who understood how I was feeling, but didn't want to lose me entirely. I'll stay in my position until a contingent RN position opens, which, as luck would have it, was already in the works. As soon as there is approval for the position, I can slide right into it. Talk about a blessing. This will allow me to continue working, but at a pace that's not going to leave me exhausted. I can sort of write my own ticket, so to speak, by working only in areas I'm comfortable, and working only the hours I want. If I don't want, I don't work. The power of saying NO is one I don't have the luxury of using right now.

Though a couple of you may not have thought the reason I work (yarn and vacations) was an important enough excuse to keep doing what I do, I have proof here that it is indeed reason enough for a fiber artist.

Case in point? I bought this beautiful Three Irish Girls yarn while on vacation in Florida last year. It was specially dyed by TIG for A Good Yarn store in Sarasota. I found the store by chance driving around the neighborhood of our lodgings. If I didn't work at all, I never would have traveled or bought the yarn or even owned the memory of having done both.

Jazz Hands! Well, one anyway. Both are finished but only one is in the photo.

This afternoon, I finished my very jazzy gloves and cast on for Stephanie's Desert Shadows Scarf (though I gave mine a different title). I'm loving the pattern, the yarn, and by happenstance, the memories of our winter getaway last year.

Rose is not the only one with sand in her yarn...

That's a win, win, win in my book. Working less hours than part time will more or less allow me to have my cake, and knit it, too, if I want!