Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cardigan for a little guy

If you're a knitter or know a knitter, you know that we look at yarn anywhere and everywhere that sells it. If you take a class or join a social knitting group that meets at a LYS (local yarn store), you use yarn from that store while in class. I have plenty of sock weight yarn waiting to go on my needles but I didn't want to work on tiny needles while at the knitting group sessions. I didn't want a huge project either, just something to keep me busy while chatting with the other women.

A sweater for Colton would be a good idea, and the pattern I used was sized 2T. Colton turns one next week, but he is a big boy. Still, I didn't expect the sweater to fit him now. It is a bit longer than what he would normally wear, but it will be fine this spring and hopefully work in the fall also.

I used Plymouth Encore yarn which is a wool and acrylic blend. I love this yarn for its ease of care (machine wash gentle, tumble dry) and the feel of it is good too. We tried it on over his jammies the other night so I don't have a photo of him wearing it yet. At that point I didn't have the buttons yet. Buttons were bought the next day and here is the finished cardigan.

Being a totally smitten grandma, here are the professional photos of the Prince of Sweetness (he'll hate me for that title one day, won't he?) commemorating being one year old. His mommy's sister-in-law took these and I think she did a great job. Not that I'm partial or anything.

And one last photo because I have a captive audience...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gas prices, in perspective

I got this in an email. Don't take the calculations literally, that could be painful and right now, buying gas is painful enough. Smile and little and look for the humor in everything.    

The  price of Gas versus Printer Ink:

All these examples do NOT imply that gasoline is cheap; it just illustrates how outrageous some prices are. You will be really shocked by the last one!

Compared  with Gasoline...

Think a gallon of gas is expensive? This makes one think, and also puts things in perspective.

     Diet Snapple: 16 oz $1.29 ... $10.32 per  gallon

     Lipton Ice Tea:  16 oz $1.19 ... $9.52 per  gallon

     Gatorade:   20 oz $1.59 ... $10.17 per  gallon

     Ocean Spray:   16 oz $1.25 ... $10.00 per  gallon

     Brake Fluid:   12 oz $3.15 ... $33.60 per  gallon

     Vick's Nyquil:   6 oz $8.35 ... $178.13 per  gallon

     Pepto  Bismol:   4 oz $3.85 ... $123.20 per gallon

     Whiteout:    7 oz $1.39 ... $25.42 per gallon
   1.5 oz $0.99 ... $84.48 per gallon

And this is the REAL KICKER:
     Evian  water:   9 oz $1.49 ... $21.19 per gallon! $21..19 for WATER and the buyers don't even know the source!
Did you notice that Evian spelled backwards is Naive.

Ever  wonder why printers are so cheap? 
...So they have you hooked for the ink !
Someone calculated the cost of the ink at ... $5,200 a gallon!!!

So, the next time you're at the pump, be glad your car doesn't run on water,  Scope, Whiteout, Pepto Bismol, Nyquil or God forbid, Printer Ink !! 

Just a little humor to help ease the pain of your next trip to the  pump...

And - If you don't pass this along to at least one  person, your muffler will fall off!

(O.K, your muffler won't really fall off...but, you might run out of toilet paper )

Sunday, February 20, 2011

This winter and my discontent

I would so love to be disciplined and creative enough to blog at least three times a week but life offline isn't cooperating right now. Hubby and I have a very busy week ahead of us watching our grandson, mostly at his house so that we can keep an eye on our son too. He needs to sit still, rest and take care of his shoulder. To that end I gave Kim a really thick wooden spoon so that she could threaten to keep him in line. Photobucket
We have lousy weather right now. It is snowing, and coming down hard. Heavy, wet snow with ice predicted to follow at some point. I don't care that it is still February, I want this to be DONE!

Maxine had the right idea...and unfortunately is truthful about body parts at the same time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thankful Friday

I am thankful for many things this Friday.

First and foremost this week, I am thankful that Chuck's surgery went well yesterday. 
Given that we've already had our high temperature for the day and are sliding back down into the 30s tomorrow with a chance of rain and snow on Sunday, I am thankful for sunshine today.
I am thankful that Bill and I are healthy and happy to celebrate another birthday together (his was yesterday).
I am thankful to have enough energy to keep up with Colton who has discovered the buttons on the front of the family room TV, that he can reach the handle of the silverware drawer, that he can push the chair away from the living room TV (dining room chair has been used to block him from reaching the buttons on that television), who crawls faster than some people walk and who falls asleep in my lap, giving me a chance to rest while he re-energizes his batteries. 
I am thankful for days that we can wake up on our own with no alarm clocks set. 
I am thankful that I have had always had a roof over my head; have had heat to keep me warm and in recent years, air conditioning to keep me cool; and enough food to keep me full and healthy.
While acknowledging that it takes money to provide the things I just listed, I am thankful that all the other things that make me happy have nothing to do with money.*

I am thankful for humor. Yours, mine, intentional and otherwise.  Today is just a lovefest of thankfulness. 

* In keeping with loving humor, here is the small print disclaimer to today's post. While happy to have sunshine, I'd be happier if it was actually WARM outside; if alarm clocks were outlawed; if there wasn't quite so much evidence of me being well-fed; and if purchases of computers and monthly internet fees were free because the internet and being connected to all of you does make me happy even if it contradicts the idea that money isn't involved in what makes me happy. It also takes money to buy yarn and ice cream, sad to say. Sadder yet is that ice cream adds to that too-much-evidence problem. Gee, my life is really kinda complicated, isn't it? But I am still thankful for it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ruthless de-cluttering

Have you ever gone through decluttering, downsizing or whatever you wish to call it and wondering if the end is ever going to be in sight?

Seldom can you clean one drawer, closet, collection or room without other drawers, rooms, etc being affected.  I thought downsizing books would be easier because my books are limited to two rooms and I was only going to tackle one subject among all my books. Ha! I heard a noise the other night and couldn't identify the source. I thought it might have been ice falling off of our neighbor's garage. The following day I discovered that a shelf of books, the type of shelf held in place by two small brackets on each end, had fallen on one side as the wood bowed under the weight of too many books. Books on the shelf below were holding all of this in place, putting that next shelf in jeopardy.
I love books. But it is time to lighten my load. Do many of you re-read a novel? I don't. There isn't enough time to read all that I would like to read, so why am I saving books I've read and have loaned to my reading friends and relatives? Whole collections of authors I like... Jan Karon, Janet Evanovich, Ann B. Ross, Joanne Fluke, Earlene Fowler (I could go on and on)...are now on their way to friends who haven't read these authors yet, or to my city's library and some to the Salvation Army.
The novels aren't the books that I started culling. The first books were mainly quilting books with a few knitting and general sewing volumes mixed in. I have friends that teach these subjects and hopefully they or their students will find use and enjoyment in them. I've saved many for reference or for patterns that I might get around to using in the next few decades.
Like most readers, it isn't just books that accumulate in my house, magazines multiply also. I began a new habit a few years ago with general magazines (BH&G, Good Housekeeping, etc), tossing old ones at least every 3 months. My problem was cooking, knitting or craft magazines. There were patterns, recipes, ideas that I wanted to save. Keeping the entire magazine takes up too much space and how to remember which issue has the recipe you're looking for? Time to rip those articles out and file them in binders.

I've been at this for almost a week now. The discard pile is done, now I am reorganizing items returning to shelves. De-cluttering makes me feel better about myself. I start out aggravated for letting things get out of hand, but gradually my mood lightens as order returns.

I don't think of myself as a controlling person, but we all like to have control of some things, some times. One of my sons is having surgery this week to repair a shoulder injury. A good friend is having surgery next week. Both surgeries are considered common to those in the medical field, but surgery never feels common to the patient or their loved ones. I truly do have faith that all will go well with both procedures, but I know that recuperation will take time and present challenges to the daily lives of both these men. Bill and I are going to be as helpful as much as possible in both cases, but we don't know what exactly we're facing or how long we'll be on call. This isn't a complaint, but an acknowledgment that we are not in control. Cleaning the shelves is one little area that IS controllable and probably why this feels so good right now.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Aha! My shampoo is the culprit!

At last I know why I've got fat hips!

When taking a shower I often use the rest of my shampoo to lather myself. Yesterday I read what was written on the bottle: For Extra Volume and Body

What a shock!

No wonder it is so difficult to keep my weight under control!

From now on I will use dish washing liquid for showering. That bottle reads: Dissolves Fat That Is Otherwise Difficult To Remove
If this revelation helps just one other person, my day will be complete. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sweet idea gone awry

Sometimes a sweet idea doesn't execute as planned.

Our niece's 6 year old son wanted a bike cake for his birthday. His mom said that might be hard for me to make. He said the bike didn't have to be standing up on the cake, it could be flat on top of the cake. Still not convinced this was do-able, his mom asked for other ideas. His 8 year old sister said that nothing was too hard for me. Awww, thanks Allison for your vote of confidence but could you please be quiet and not put so much pressure on me! Josh's second choice was a cake with "just" his picture on it, one that looks exactly like him and it could just say Happy Birthday.

Oh boy.

I googled bicycle themed cakes and found one that used candy to make a bike. Cool! The kids will love the candy and it looked easy.

  • I needed a frosted 9 x 13 inch cake  No problem.
  • Chocolate Cow Tales  I had no idea what these were or where to find them. Googling showed me that they looked like this and were to be stretched to 9" to form the bike tires.

I found a package of much smaller ones at Cracker Barrel and bought those, hoping I could merge 2-3 smaller ones into one tire. That didn't work, but I am getting ahead of myself. While shopping with my daughter-in-law last weekend, we found a candy store at a mall that had these. I bought 4 for almost $3. Two were needed, two would be just-in-case spares.

  • Twizzlers Rainbow Twists
  • M&Ms      I used candy dots, the ones on paper, bought at Cracker Barrel
  • Candy Sticks    I knew I could find these at Cracker Barrel. Grocers and bulk food stores did not have them
  • Fruit Streamers   Ok...I give...what are these things? I found what they are by Googling again, but no one here had them. Are they candy? Fruit snacks to be found in the cereal/snack food aisle? Mystery item located in housewares?) I bought Fruit Roll-Ups
  • Pez candies   I needed two for the pedals. I bought a Pez dispenser with 3 packs of Pez. It was cheaper than buying Pez refills. Anyone want an unopened pack of grape or cherry Pez?
  • Green edible glitter
I laid out the bike on wax paper to see how this was going to assemble. First step was to stretch the Cow Tales and form circles. The Cow tales were hard and brittle. They didn't stretch at all. When the first one broke in my hand, I tasted it. Blech! The small ones weren't chocolate, they were caramel so the color would have been wrong if they had worked, but that a moot point. They stretched some, but didn't meld into one 9" piece to become a circle. I had already looked for black licorice for the tires without success so I used the darkest Rainbow Twizzler (grape?) to form the tires.

Next step: Break 4-5 candy sticks into the lengths specified in the diagram and arrange them atop the cake as shown.  I guess you could call the small photo a diagram, but there weren't any lengths specified. I cut the sticks, Blueberry in this case, using a serrated knife. The Twizzlers didn't want to stay in a circle on their own, but fortunately stayed in place once they went on the frosting.

Small pieces of Twizzlers were cut for the seat, spokes and handlebar. I cut the spokes lengthwise to make them smaller. The handlebar Twizzler was placed on end into the cake with Streamers coming out of the top end. Remember that I couldn't find Kellogg Streamers? I cut Fruit Roll Ups into strips and jammed them into the Twizzler opening. I can only guess that Kellogg Streamers are sturdier than Fruit Roll Up strips or perhaps I don't know my own strength. I swore a bit, but not out loud. Ok, it was out loud, but I wasn't yelling and I was home alone.

The sprocket was a strip of Fruit Roll Up coiled into a circle and topped with a candy dot. Tinier cuts of the roll up became the stems for the pedals which were the Pez candies on their sides.

I tinted some frosting to write the birthday greeting and used some of it to add extra spokes. I probably should have left that alone but I was using up frosting. Better this than sticking the decorator tip in my mouth and squeezing the bag!

The one thing I thought would give me grief, removing the candy dots from their paper backing, was not a problem at all.

Here is the cake yesterday morning. At this point the only thing I was unhappy about was that the tires weren't round. This ride would be a bumpy one, but I knew Josh wouldn't mind.
We left for the party yesterday afternoon. It was snowing furiously. It was not in the least warm in the car or in the great outdoors. Within two minutes of being inside, the cake was unveiled for the birthday boy. He was happy but I was not. Look what happened...
The color on the candy sticks bled into the icing anywhere it touched the buttercream.

I'm not as hard on myself as I used to be, so I there is no shame or anger involved. I am disappointed though, and wonder if a strange convergence of candy issues occurred (stale Cow Tales? unusual properties in the blue dye of the stick candy?) or do the test kitchens decorate, photograph and immediately consume (or dispose) of the cake without experiencing a result like this.

The cake was good, the birthday boy was happy, and all is well that ends well. But Allison and Josh, your dear old aunt is finding it hard to accomplish some themes so could you please simplify your choices? How about a bright, happy cake decorated with leftover Twizzlers!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow + Parking Lots = Selected Memory Disorder

Snomaggedon, snopocalypse, or if you don't care for hype, the large snow storm that began on Tuesday and ended Wednesday is over. The part of Michigan where I live had roughly 8 inches on average. Nothing to laugh at but certainly not the worst we've ever had and less than we expected based on the incessant weather forecasts. I have to believe that most meteorologists are nice people who are told by their station managers and network affiliates that it is their job to whip the viewing public into a frenzy before the first snowflake falls. I'll end that rant before I begin. Those of you who live in snowy areas probably know exactly what I am talking about. Those of you who don't probably face other weather issues where the forecasters do their imitation of Chicken Little (the sky is falling! the sky is falling!).Photobucket

After being housebound a few days, I was more than ready to get out today and run a few errands. Sidestreets have packed snow on them but are easily navigable and main highways are completely clear with visible pavement. And so are the pot holes, but that would be another rant. I'll save that for another day, or better yet, spare you altogether.

Driving today was no problem at all. Drivers did as expected. It was very pleasant.  Until I pulled into my first parking lot.Some of those nice, pleasant drivers lose all sense of lanes and parking slots once in they are in a lot.

The photos in my post today were taken from the internet and aren't local but they serve my purpose. It isn't unusual to see parking lots that look like this one. After a while, there is no place to put the snow that has been plowed in a parking lot. If it was one lot and one company plowing, perhaps they could relocate the snow to some field but remember, every busy wants their lots cleared ASAP before customers arrive. The plow drivers often work through the night clearing lots. For some, this is a second job as we don't have snow that needs plowing every week in this part of Michigan. In a time crunch, the plows do well to clear as much of a lot as possible before moving on to their next job.
I was in three lots today. Some weren't clear all the way to the pavement as the one in the above photo so the lines designating parking slots were obscured. I can understand a little error in judging where the lines might be, especially for the first cars to arrive in the lot, but what are some people thinking when they park any old way?  Photobucket

This photo is a mild example of the crazy pattern some people create. At least no cars in this photo are blocked in by a car in front and behind them, a situation I actually saw today!
The only thing worse than walking to your car after parking in a mess like this is trying to wheel your shopping cart full of groceries through the snow, slush and worse, sometimes frozen slush that has ridges from tire tracks in it.

I'm thinking snow belongs on ski slopes. I don't ski and there aren't any mountains here, so gone! Ice is good in drinks. I usually drink diet Coke, but after the parking lots today, I'll take a nicely aged Scotch on ice please. Photobucket


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Memory-a spoof by Pam Peterson

I had something profound to share with you today, but I can't seem to remember what it was. While I think about that a bit, I hope you enjoy this clip.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New use for Windex

Did you hear about a new use for Windex?

I haven't checked 'Snopes' to see if this actually works or not, but they say if you ever get the sudden urge to run around naked, you should sniff some Windex first.

It will keep you from streaking.