Sunday, November 29, 2009

Here I am, posting another video link...

I love this SNL sketch. It's especially relevant during the Christmas shopping season.

I other news, I've started a new knitting projects, the Ganomy Hat by Elizabeth Zimmerman. Unfortunately, I think it's a tad small for me. I'm going to keep going with it, though. If I cannot block it out to be comfortable, I'll put it on the mitten tree at church. It's a win-win situation that involves no frogging, right?

Thursday, November 05, 2009


That's how I'd spell it. It could be pompatus or pompitous, but regardless of the spelling, I love this song. And peaches.

Speaking of peaches, I love this song, too, as do the kids.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Busy day

Wednesdays are truly hump days for me. This is how today went. It's like this most every Wednesday:

Get up, shower, get kids to school, go to knitting group at Mika's where I drink three cups of coffee, eat a cinnamon roll, and revive the long-suffering entrelac blanket-to-be. Leave the knitters to go pick up first kidlet from school, go home, help clean up the big box of Legos that fell the across dining room floor, eat lunch, empty dishwasher, fix broken Batman toy, grab kidlet and laptop and walk the four blocks to the office to pay some bills. After a couple of hours of work, pause to go pick up second kidlet from school, go back to office and finish the bill-paying, gather up both kids and walk home.

Take a deep breath. *whew*

Kick off my shoes, start a new load of laundry, pull giant load of brand-spanking-new kitchen towels out of the dryer, fold stuff, realize that choir practice is in 20 minutes. Put shoes back on, jog off to church for an hour of high-velocity singing (seriously- this director practices a dozen songs in under an hour. You can work up a sweat just being there).

Here's where I get a break. Church hosts a "Cook's Night Out" on the first Wednesday of each month. That means that after choir practice, I just wandered over the the parish hall to join my family for a dinner that Mr Deplume and I neither thought up nor cooked. And it was good.

And now we're home. Kids are in pajamas, homework is done, TV is on, and a bottle of Newcastle sits next to me, helping me celebrate another day of life.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Squash is good, most squash recipes not so much

I grew squash in my garden this summer. I planted too many plants (as usual) and ended up swimming in summer squash, cucumbers and acorn squash. I managed to eat or share all the cucumbers, almost did the same with the summer squash (a few ended up in the composter, poor things). Luckily, acorn squash are a little less picky about time, so the last 5 of them have been waiting patiently for me. Then to top it all off, someone gave me an organic butternut squash last week. They've been sitting on my kitchen table, taking up a bunch of room and mocking me, telling me that I'd have to cook them with brown sugar and butter like everyone else does.

But I'm not one to be bossed around by cucurbits, and I have searched high and low for squash recipes that don't taste like pumpkin pie or that Thanksgiving yam stuff with the marshmallows on top. A while back I stuffed an acorn squash with black beans and ground beef and garlic and cumin and chili powder, topped with cheddar cheese. It was good. Too bad I didn't write down what I did.

This week, determined to use that butternut squash, I found a recipe for Garlicky Baked Butternut Squash that sounded worth a try. I didn't have parsley so I substituted basil and rosemary, and had to use half acorn squash, but overall it turned out really good. Note: acorn squash takes longer to cook than butternut, so nuke the acorn a bit first unless you want acorn lumps in a sea of butternut puree.

Best part about the recipe is that Nigel refused to try it. How is that good, you ask? It means that I get leftovers.

Monday, November 02, 2009

I have a problem

It's November in Illinois, and I hate shoes.

As many of you know, I started running in the spring of this year. I did a sorta "couch-to-5K" method and ran that 5 kilometer race on July 4. I ran it in 36 minutes and change, and was not dead last. Apparently, not very many people actually train those 12 weeks and actually run a 5K on the first try, so I'm proud of my accomplishment.

But it all came at a price: shin splints. I iced them, I stretched my calves, I reduced mileage, but every time I ran, I had pain. I had lumpy hurty shins and nothing seemed to help. So I googled for three straight weeks and ended up looking at the testimonials of barefoot runners for whom doffing the shoes was the magic cure-all for running injuries.

Now me, being a pretty moderate sort of person, thought "ehhh, that's kinda weird and radical." But the more hippy-dippy, trust-in-nature side of me won out, and I gave it a shot. On August 10 I took off my shoes and ran a 1/4 mile around the high school track in my socks after my normal shin-paining run. It felt good enough to try again.

In pretty short order, I just stopped wearing shoes for running altogether, and aside from some achilles issues (fairly typical "Too Much Too Soon" injury after having spent years in shoes with elevated heels), I'm making progress.

But now it's getting cold. Over the last weeks, I started looking for some minimalist shoes to keep my tootsies warm this winter, thinking myself not tough enough for winter temperatures. But after trying on countless non-normal running shoes, I cannot find any that don't feel like foot coffins (as some of my favorite barefooters like to call them).

For now, as long as I run when it's sunny and dry out, I can count on warmish streets, even when the air temperature is undesirable. But be on the lookout here, dear readers, for makeshift running "shoes" that will let my feet feel free yet protected from the chilly monsters. I have years of crafting knowledge and the whole Internet at my disposal. It promises to be a ton of jury-rigged fun!

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Not much to write today, but I'm trying to post here even when there's nothing earth-shattering to report. So I'll share my kids' Halloween costumes.

Nora is Pippi Longstocking, with the dress "made" by me. I put the quotation marks in there, because it is actually a t-shirt top sewn up to be narrower in the bodice, then attached parts of two other t-shirts for the skirt. No real measuring, no sleeves to set in. Best part is that she asked if I could make her a couple of other dresses like that, but matching. That's the kind of clothes sewing I can really get behind-- straight lines only.

Nige is Bumblebee, the Transformer (his cousin was Optimus Prime. Two good guys ready to defeat any evildoers we might encounter on the walk around town). The only thing homemade on this costume is the binding around the neck, which is the handiwork of Grandma Karen. The material of the costume is a knit, and started to run at the neck when stretched. Thanks to her for a suit that can proudly be worn throughout the winter. (He loves all his superhero costumes and can regularly be seen around town fighting crime.)

I wore my old-timey dress to school on Friday for the kids' Halloween parties. It was fun. Six yards of fabric and a zillion hours of hand-stitching the skirt, and I've worn it twice. I'm going to be 19th-century Midwestern lady for all the foreseeable costume ocasions. (No new picture of it, sorry)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fisharoni Surprise

It's no secret that I have a deep love for vintage craft magazines. They are glimpses into 20th century American life that you just can't get anywhere else. Lately I have a developed a particular fancy of The Workbasket, for it was not just a craft magazine, but also included gardening and cooking.

The garden section was ever filled with great information about how to store tuberous begonias for re-planting the following spring, and how to prune wisteria so that it will continue to bloom well. But then sometimes it would have a great tidbit like this:

Q. What is the vegetarian diet for venus fly trap plant? -- Mrs. R.G.H., OH
A. As these grow best in living sphagnum moos which decays with fertilizer, give each leaf of fly trap a tiny piece of lean raw beef each week.
(April, 1976, p. 28)

The cooking section relied heavily on recipes sent in from readers, for which they were paid. In 1953, a printed recipe was worth. In 1970, they were still paying $2 for recipes. (They did raise the reward to $5 by 1973 though. Housewives were apparently on to their game.)

While there are lots of good knit and crochet patterns in these volumes, my true enjoyment comes from those $2 recipes. My family and faithful readers will remember my foray into bacon cookies, which came directly from The Workbasket. And upon getting a 1966 issue given to me (thanks, Joy!), I immediately found this gem:

Fisharoni Surprise
1 (1 pound) can salmon, flaked you know, I haven't eaten canned salmon in probably 20 years. I could go get a can to try this out
1 medium can baked beans really? maybe I should rethink this recipe
1 medium size can tomato soup oh hell no
2 cups cooked macaroni thus the "roni" in the title. should I really be surprised?
1 medium size onion, chopped and sauteed in butter
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
salt and pepper to taste

also in that same issue was a recipe for Rosy Ham Loaf, which was a combination of ground ham and ground pork, mixed with tomato soup (of course!) and dry mustard, and topped with pineapple. I think that if I ever made this one, I'd need to serve Rosy Perfection Salad from Weight Watchers as well. (go on, click the link. you won't be worry)

Mr. Deplume has come up with the idea to have a dinner party wherein each guest must bring a dish made from a Workbasket recipe. The dishes must be prepared exactly as written. Everyone I talk to thinks this is a grand idea. I think that I would need to have a lot of pizza in the freezer in case we ended up with a inedible table full of canned soups and frankfurters. Look for your invitation in the mail!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

From the random earworm files of Norm...

This song has been bebopping its way through my head all afternoon. I have no earthly idea why. I do love this movie. I think I need to add it to my Netflix queue again.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A few pictures

I once again have the writer's block. When in bed at night, my mind is FILLED with subjects I want to write about. But as soon as I drift off to slumberland, the blog imp comes and steals them all away from me. So, I manage to write pretty much nothing. Thankfully the camera still works, and each picture is worth a thousand words, so I'm gonna have a slide show.

First, the boy's 5th birthday was at the end of August (so sue me, I'm a slacker). I had a modest goal of serving him a cake not purchased from a grocery store's bakery. He wanted a Transformers-themed party, so I had my work cut out for me. Jumping to my aid was my friend Kaia, who owns a car-shaped pan, so I embarked on my first cake decoration attempt: The Autobot named Bumblebee. I used to think that I'd like to decorate cakes as a hobby. It turns out, I do not. (There's a chance that I would have enjoyed it more if my pastry bag and bag tips hadn't been MIA, forcing me to use only a Ziploc freezer bag and my gumption to frost the cake)

It's completely lopsided, but the boy was happy with it, and it tasted pretty good.

Next, I owe you a picture of my kitchen. There's still a soffit to be built around the sink's vent pipe, but the wallpaper is up and the painting is basically done. Even in its unfinished state, it's a 382% improvement over how it had looked since we moved in. If only I could afford to have the floor and counters replaced....

Lastly for today, I owe you a picture of knitting. However, the knitting I've been doing is too boring to bother turning on the camera. I've recently been knitting neck gaiters (the pattern spells it "gator" but I don't think that's right), one being an exact replica of one I knit in the spring, for Citizen Sam. I don't think I ever posted about this before, so I'll show you a picture of its older twin. (You can see that I made a hat in the spring too. I haven't made another hat yet, but I have more yarn, so it's probably just a matter of time).

If one 9" knitted tube weren't boring enough of a summer knit, I've cast on another one, this one navy blue, for keeping in the family. I think all this k2p2 ribbing is finally giving me the motivation to get back to more challenging projects. So that's good.

I really hope to keep up with the posting, and not put writing off enough for another month. But we'll see. My slacker-fu is very strong.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Uh, that was weird...

I just went into my upstairs bathroom, flipped on the light, and was promptly greeted with an explosion. The light bulb on the sconce by the mirror blew up. I have never known that to happen before. Anyone of you, my faithful reader(s), who can allay my fear that our home's wiring is irreparably dodgy? Please someone tell me that sometimes light bulbs in normal, safe homes shoot holes in themselves? Or was this just a warning shot? Should I be moving all my valuables to a secure location?

P.S. I find it funny that Firefox's spellcheck recognizes "dodgy" and "wonky", but not "bockety"

Friday, August 14, 2009

Norm's Bits

I've never seen the Larry King Show. I have, however, seen several comedians do impressions of Larry King, many of which include him just rambling through his thoughts, one after another. I have never understood why he would do this, or if he really even does it (The Google tells me that it's a column called "King's Things", but I'm still dubious). Lately, though, it seems that nothing I wish to share here is long enough for its own entry, so I'm gonna pull a Larry and do the random thoughts thing, no matter how inane it seems to be. It might be stupid, but it keeps me from posting this crap on Twitter or Facebook. So here goes:

The kitchen is almost done. But the closer I get to finished, the slower my progress seems to be.

I knit a hat, hoping to break through my lack of knit-ability lately. I started it, ripped it out because it was too big, reknit it smaller, and it's still too big. Still no mojo. Dammit.

The youngest member of the Deplume household starts kindergarten on Tuesday. I'm nervous as a cat about it (and that's saying something-- both of our cats are very nervous critters).

I intend to ditch my $40+ per month Verizon cell phone and get a Net10 one instead. I've procrastinated on it for almost three months, though, because I'm not sure how to switch the phone number over.

I'm going to try my hand into barefoot running. Maybe I should have said "dip my toes into barefoot running." No, that would be lame. Either way, I attempted it for the first time this week and it was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be.

I screwed up and took my daughter to the dentist for a cleaning after only five months instead of six. That's a $152 mistake, as insurance refused to pay for the visit and the fluoride treatment.

Until this morning, I had forgotten how much I like Big Lots. $1 nail polish? $2 Organic granola? What's not to love?

My daughter is at her first slumber party tonight. She thinks she will get homesick. The party is all of three blocks away.

I got a little bit of a sunburn today at the pool. I'm 37 years old. I should know better.

I think that's it for now.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kitchen pictures

I'm in a knitting slump. I made a sock, it got set aside, I finally picked it back up and made it too short. I pulled out the toe and re-knit it, made it longer, and it's still too short. It's just par for the course lately. A while before that I crocheted a granny square. As I rounded the last corner of the second round, I realized that I had made a granny triangle. I also have a sweater that I started, and I keep thinking that I'll never be able to finish it, so why bother working on it at all. See? I have lost my mojo.

The upside to failing at the yarny arts is that I have been working on the long-suffering kitchen. (By the way, I do mean to say that it has been doing the suffering. The poor room has been terribly embarrassed at its state for more than three months now.)

This last weekend, I finally primed the walls (with a miracle product called Gardz) and then painted the ceiling. Of course I dislike painting ceilings on a good day, but painting over a mushroom-colored glossy ceiling is a special brand of Hell (should that be capitalized? I assume it's a proper noun, right?). After about three coats of ceiling paint, I was left with this (see what I mean about a sad kitchen?):

Yesterday, I decided to tackle the wallpaper. I was a little intimidated because A) it's only my second wallpapering project, the first one being the dining room a couple of years ago, and B)this random-looking wallpaper has a repeat which I really thought I was unable to find. But I pressed on, found the three tiny dots that signaled the pattern's matching point, and dove in. I was left with this.

It's the only wall that is done so far. I hope to get wall #2 done today. It's slow going because it's all windows and cabinets and doors everywhere, but I have hope for the future of my kitchen. Now if I could only happen upon a spare thousand dollars to have the floor replaced...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

That figures.

First full day of vacation. Younger child under the weather. Just found that rechargeable batteries did not take the charge the other night. Trip to Target imminent.

Will update more colorfully soon.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

In the mornings, Mr. Deplume is up and is gone for work before the kids and I awake. Our routine is such that he brews a whole pot of coffee, drinks some, fills up his brewed-but-cold moving sauce for my mornings. It works for me, because I am not a morning person and brewing coffee is pretty taxing on my barely awake brain.

Just to illustrate how very mushy my brain is in the mornings, I'll share with you an anecdote:
I just went to refill my coffee, but it was cold (obviously) so I headed through the kitchen to heat it up. I walked straight to the refrigerator, opened it, and started to put my cup in. At that point I got a breath of the cold air and thought "hey, that's not gonna heat up my coffee". So I felt silently embarrassed, walked back across the kitchen and heated the drink in the microwave.

I of course had to immediately share this via IM with Mr. Deplume, who is at work, and he replied thusly:
I was getting ready to brew the coffee here, filled up the carafe to pour into the Bunn... instead of doing that I walked into my office and poured cold water into my coffee cup. Guess we are on the same level of awareness this morning.

That is proof that we're soulmates, right?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lots of stuff (I wish I had a better title, but it just ain't gonna happen)

It's been a busy few weeks in the Deplume household. There has been a garden planted, school year ended, kitchen cabinets painted, miles run, and anniversaries celebrated (our parents, not us-- ours is next month). I have taken pictures of a lot of it, but will only share a little here.

First off, a couple of weeks ago my mom and sister had a garage sale. I put some things out too, but I only made $12, so I don't think it really counts as my sale. My mother had this for sale. She got it at an auction with some other things, and didn't immediately notice anything other than the cute bunnies. I brought it home of course, thinking that I'd tuck it away for a risque gift-giving occasion. There are a few of my fellow yarnies on Ravelry who I think would particularly enjoy it.

There's a problem, however. Our son saw it and promptly claimed it as his cup. He wants to drink out of it all the time. He would be crestfallen if I took it away from him. This is another one of those situations that makes me wonder about this parenting gig. How am I supposed to explain why he cannot keep his beloved bunny mug? If I don't take it away, how long until he or his older sister figures it out? This is one of those things that will have us all in stitches as we reminisce around the Thanksgiving table in 2038, isn't it?

In other news, I finished the shawl that I thought would never end. In all honesty, it probably should be another inch or two bigger, but I just couldn't bear to knit anymore. It had been with me for 13 months now, and it was time to get those needles back. I think I'll make a sweater next-- with hopes that it would be done before fall sweater season, 2009. I don't hold out much hope on that, though. I do love the colors and the yarn is very soft, I hope that despite its petite-ness (petite-i-tude? petition?) I'll manage to use it lots.
Ravelry Link

There is more news (and pictures) to share, but it's now 6:52 PM and I'm the only member of the family not in my jammies yet, so it will have to wait until tomorrow. See you then!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I've gone high tech, I think

In an effort to make it easier for everyone to comment, I installed a new gadget that should allow you all to post comments without having to a) register/sign in to some web service and/or b) be 100% Anonymous.

In theory, you should be able to choose the "guest" option now, and then can type your name in the "nickname" box. Be warned, though, that if you forget to type something in for your nickname, it will name you "guest" and, well, that's no better than before.

If you have any problems, please email me your issues (normdeplume 720 at gmail dot com-- without the spaces, of course) so that I can try to fix them. I cannot seem to sign out enough to test it all for myself.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In which Norm is again stickin' it to the man

We love popcorn here at the Deplume household. I grew up in one of those homes where there was a dedicated popcorn-cooking pan. It was made in large enough quantities that there could be leftovers the next morning. It was a big deal.

However, when I grew up and Mr. Deplume set off to make our own household, we didn't have a popcorn pan. Nor did we have the room in our 465 sqft. apartment to have one, let alone an electric popcorn popper. The only 'real' option for us was to start purchasing microwave popcorn.

Problem is, microwave popcorn isn't any good. It's usually heavily-laden with that nuclear orange diacetyl (the butter-flavored chemical that tastes nothing like any butter I've ever encountered), salt (enough to kill a slug) and hydrogenated oils. Still, we stuck with it, addicted to the ease of plopping a packet into the nuker and pushing the "popcorn" button. I had resigned myself to doing this for the rest of my days.

But lately, we've been having troubles. First, our microwave was too small, so the bag would get stuck, burning the popcorn. Then, we upsized to a larger unit, only to find that the bag would still get stuck if we didn't center it right. There were other problems, all very irritating, which ended with one of two problems: unpopped kernels or charred popcorn-shaped briquettes.

So this morning I was avoiding housework (as usual)and started looking at popcorn poppers. Thanks to The Google's power, I happened upon this recipe for homemade microwave popcorn. I headed to the grocery store to buy popcorn and lunch sacks. Brought them home, threw 1/4 of corn in the bag with a drizzle of canola oil, folded it up, and two minutes later I had popcorn. Popcorn plus bag (both bought at full price in my little neighborhood grocery)cost $.27, which is considerably less than I normally pay for the pre-bagged stuff. Take that, Act II and all your friends on the convenience snack shelves!

I love being cheap-- bargains are fun.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I'm in full-on yard work mode right now. It's a neverending job, of course, but in the spring it is fun. It's not too hot, and I'm busy thinking of what my gardens could look like, with just the right amount of work and money and landscape know-how. (I don't really have the ability to follow through on that, but that's another post, to be tackled in August some time.)

But for now, I have my favorite bits of spring, the first buds on my roses, the little spinach leaves, the blossoms on peas, and my irises. These flowers are all gifts from other people's gardens, and I love them. While weeding this bed yesterday, I was accompanied by their wonderfully sweet scent, wishing that they'd stick around all summer long. However, in looking pictures of them, I am reminded of the constant problem of living where I do-- no picture of prettiness is without the ugliness of urban(ish) living.

Here, a photo of them shows off my neighbors' garbage cans and pool and shed. I've planted some roses near the alley to try to screen this from view, but it will be some time before they are large enough to do any good. I tried pictures from other angles, and the ones with our house in the background aren't much better. I'll fix that this year, right?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

While the rest of life speeds up, Norm goes retro

I have a problem. The more I have things I need to finish, the more projects I choose to take on. It can be seen in the many WIPs in my yarn cupboard (not to mention the things sitting around the rest of the house, as my knitting ADD has outgrown the cupboard). It can also be seen in the fact that my kitchen isn't much farther along now than a couple of weeks ago when I posted pictures. I could blame the weather (wettest spring on record here in my neck o' the prairie), but the truth is, I decided to knit in public, and it took a lot of time.

While my kitchen cabinets remain doorless, and the walls remain paperless, I signed on to knit at an event celebrating my town's sesquicentennial (that's 1859, in case you didn't feel like doing the math). Never happy to do something the easy way, I decided to make a dress for the occasion. This is a bit of a silly idea, because I am not an experienced seamstress, nor have I even sewn more than a button onto anything in well over a year.

But I had the idea in my head, and would not be dissuaded. Of course I had to start out by spending a week trolling the internet for ideas of what to sew. Then I realized that any real pattern would set me back $15 or more, not to mention that my procrastination precluded me from really ordering one anyway, so I asked my mom to help me out. She took a blouse that fits me and drafted a pattern from it (talented family members are a must, when daring to craft beyond your skill level).

I managed to follow her directions and ended up with a bodice that fit (although not quite period-appropriate), and then decided to do the skirt the way a gal would have done it 150 years ago. I ended up with a sore hand and shoulder from pleating all 135" of the top of it, then hemming the other end and attaching it to said bodice, all by hand. It sure was fun, though (no kidding). The apron is a pillowcase, gathered and sewn to a band of old tablecloth. Luckily, I can whip up an apron pretty easily, so that was done last-minute with a minimum of cursing.

In the end I ended up quite pleased with myself. The garden plants I bought last week may still be languishing in their flats, the kitchen may be unfinished, the dining room is still unusable, being filled with the kitchen's misplaced bits and bobs and shelves and glasses, but I got lots of compliments from people who saw me yesterday. And then I went grocery shopping in the dress -- I figured if I spend an entire week making something, I'd better get some mileage out of it!

I'm such an attention whore. Sometimes I think that's why I craft things at all.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Too humid to paint, so I'll show you some progress pics instead,

I need to paint another coat on the wainscot. (This is a fancy misnomer. It's really beadboard-shaped paneling installed by previous owners. It was a very dark wood color before I got paint-happy with it.) Unfortunately, we're having an excessively wet spring and once again it's too humid to paint. That means that the refrigerator sits in the middle of the kitchen for at least one more day. *sigh*

But that does free me up to do some house cleaning. The work in the kitchen has caused a cessation of regular tidying in other parts of the house, although I wasn't exactly a fastidious housekeeper before. I need to reclaim my front room. It's become the wooden train set/Barbie spa room for a week now and it's bothering me. It is the only room that I really love, so it pays to keep it that clean. Also, I've been slacking in the laundry and dishes departments. Ugh. There's always a lot of those.

Anyway, back to pictures:
In February, Mr Deplume had had enough of the ugly kitchen, and started to strip the lower cabinets so we could repaint them.

There they sat, mostly stripped, for almost two months. Finally, last week, I started priming and painting, and also ripped out the soffits above the upper cabinets-- that amount of wasted space makes me twitchy. I did find that I really love the original wallpaper from when the kitchen was installed (early 60's maybe?)

Under the soffit I found a lovely copper sink vent, and some rather dodgy wiring for the over-sink light.

Here's the north side of the kitchen, before I started to paint the "wainscot." Please don't judge me by the mess inside that cupboard. It's where I cram all the stuff that doesn't fit neatly anywhere else.

The other end of the sink vent. And the 3" of window trim that was removed for the soffit. Ugh.

Bye Bye, ugly wallpapers!

So that's where we were the other day. I started to put the doors back on the lowers, but the hinges I bought were too thick (or maybe just poorly made), and I had to buy new ones. Of course the new hinges' mounting holes don't match up on the door side, so I need to break out the drill and make some adjustments. Nothing is ever easy peasy in this house.

And now I'm going to get the boy dressed and head to Menards to return the 10 pairs of hinges that I cannot use. We're all very excited about that. whoopdedoo!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Can't talk now

Too busy ripping apart the kitchen. And as always, every little job ends up ballooning to thrice its original size. But finally I'm seeing progress. We've repainted the lower cabinets and wainscoting, and after several days of humidity finally were able to put the new pulls on the drawers and re-install them.

Unfortunately, we've hinge replacement issues, so the doors remain on the front porch floor. Actually, there is one door that couldn't go back on its cabinet yet anyway, thanks to the boy who "accidentally" got his dirty foot on the wet paint.

what do you think?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

and just like that, it's been a week

Actually, over a week since I last posted here. I love my blog, but somehow, my busy schedule of reading others' blogs just doesn't leave enough time for actually writing here. Go figure.

Anyway, I haven't been a total sloth. I'm working on a little knitted gift that I shan't reveal here until it's been presented (I'd hate to give away a secret like that), as well as continued work on the house and garden. Unfortunately, every step forward necessitates two steps back.

I planted some bare root roses, but then it snowed and I couldn't finish the rest of them.
Mr Deplume started the arduous task of removing the lava rock from along the side of the house, but there's so much dirt and other stuff in there, it's going to be a very long, slow process.

I started to fix the doors on the front porch, but they were in such disrepair that after a couple of hours working on them, I just removed them altogether. WE've decided that this was a sign that we ought to just remove the porch's windows and revert it back to a proper front porch. (I'm struggling now not to just start demolition willy nilly.)

Since it's a little cold and muddy out, I have to settle for laundry duty today. It's not nearly as fun as crow bars and hammers.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Charity work

Earlier this month I knit these for Citizen Sam (they recently took over Operation Helmetliner), and finally got around to weaving in the ends and taking pictures this week. I have a bad habit of finishing projects quickly, then letting them languish about for weeks (or months, in some cases) with just a stray yarn end or half a bind-off to do. Too bad procrastination isn't a marketable skill-- I could be rich. Rich, I tell you!
The beanie is Ellen's Hat from The Ships Project (Ravelry link), and the neck gator (although I think it ought to be spelled "gaiter") is from the Citizen Sam website. (No Rav pattern link for this one that I could find. I'm also too lazy to bother adding it to their database.)

BTW, on the gaiter/gator I used a sewn cast off that I read about in Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac, and I really like the effect. It's nice and stretchy, and at the same time is a little less bulky than my standard bind off. That EZ sure was one smart cookie.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

This isn't funny, Mother Nature.

It's March 29. Last night, after a horrible gloomy day of rain, we got snow. Five inches of wet snow. Just like that, all my hope for spring is dashed. I awoke this morning to find that we are back in the dead of winter. I didn't cover any of my outdoor plants yesterday-- I hope nothing is too damaged.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cutting the cord.

We've been paying $58 a month for Directv for many years (well, it used to be cheaper, but they kept adding crap we don't use, and upping the price). After a very frustrating afternoon yesterday, I mentioned to Mr Deplume that we ought to just get rid of the cable/satellite altogether and just use an antenna and the Internet for our television enjoyment. He bristled at first-- he'd have to give up ESPN! How could he get through a morning without Sportscenter?

But just moments later he saw our 4-year-old beg for another toy that had been pimped on a commercial, and he came around. So after a little talking and futzing with the computer to allow us to watch Burn Notice and Psych episodes on the TV set without cable, the decision was made. This morning I will be calling DirecTV, telling them to just come and pick up their crappy HD receiver that doesn't work on our television and canceling our service.

Last night I went through the massive Tivo Season pass list and deleted all the pay-tv shows. Bye Bye, Food Detectives, see ya around, Mythbusters. Au revoir, Gardening By the Yard. It will be tough without you.

The children will probably have the biggest adjustment. They are used to having 10 different cartoon channels standing by, ready to placate them at a moment's notice. I've saved a few recorded programs for them on the Tivo (I love love love my Tivo), and will be buying some more kid-friendly DVDs. Once summer is here, this will all be easier, as they really love playing outdoors anyway. I know that families are happier with less TV, but the next couple of weeks will try all of our patience, I suspect.

We'll be better for it, right?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I hate Directv right now. A lot.

Directv emailed me a couple of months ago, telling me that I needed a new dish and receiver, because they were switching satellites. I made an appointment for today between 12 and 4. I was pleasantly surprised when the guy showed up at 11:58 AM. He promptly got to work, and now I only have one dish in my yard, which is an improvement,

However, this new box they forced me to get is an HD receiver, one which does not work with my Tivo, my tv, or my Directv account. Because I don't have and HDTV. I have a regular tv. A normal big fat standard definition television. It won't allow my beloved Tivo to change channels to record. I'm getting a little jittery just thinking about it. How on earth can I be expected to watch shows when they are actually on? That's not how I roll.

So I called the handy phone number they had given me and went through the "are you sure you plugged into the wall" questions, and eventually got them to believe me and transfer me to the technical support department. I explained to him that it won't chance channels properly , and then I sat on the line with him for nearly 15 minutes while he breathed into his headset and typed on his keyboard. After the 15 minutes, he said "there's nothing we can do for you."

And I said "no, you need to fix this."

He said, "well, Directv upgraded your receiver, but didn't charge you for the service call, nor did they force you to pay for HD service, so there's nothing more I can do. Since the the problem is with the Tivo, maybe you should call them to see if they've found a solution" As if it's Tivo's fault.

I relized I was not going to get anywhere with the Directv guy, so I actually tried calling Tivo. The girl at the other end of that call was more sympathetic, but had no decent answers for me and put me on hold to find out about new products that they might have for me. I waited a couple of minutes, but eventually hung up.

And then I did what any other sane person would, I shopped for DishNetwork and Mediacom deals on the internet. Unfortunately, once the honeymoon with those folks is over, their customer service would be just as bad.

I just called DirecTV again, got a standard customer service guy and he said "they shouldn't have given you an HD receiver, they can come out on Monday to reinstall a regular one."


I just spent 3 godforsaken hours on phone calls to people who don't give a shit, repeating the modern-day custserv mantra: "I'm sorry that must be frustrating for you", and it turns out I got the wrong receiver in the first place?? What the hell? I think I might be more angry than I was when I though the programmers of the new-fangled boxes had made a mistake and they were just stupid. I might still cancel the DirecTV just to make a point. I wish I weren't so addicted to a few cable TV shows, or I'd just cancel it altogether and switch to using just Netflix and Hulu and iTunes for my boob tube-type enjoyment.

And people wonder why a little part of me wants to go live with the Amish?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Something to report!

Sorry folks, for being absent so long. I just had nothing all that interesting to write, so I didn't bother. But this weekend saw something done to the house, so I took pictures. On Saturday I got all twitchy about the 40+ feet of yew bushes along the south side of my house and started sawing them down. With my neighbor's trusty hand saw, I deleted three of the overgrown buggers with my bare hands. I unfortunately have no photographic evidence of said bushes-- I neglected to take 'before' pictures.

On Sunday, Mr. Deplume borrowed a friend's chainsaw (we really do have tools of our own, just not the correct ones for this particular job) and went to work on the rest of them. Within an hour or so we went from this (the bush-free part of the house to the left of the screen is where the bushes I removed had stood):
From House

to this:
From House

I count it as an improvement, although removing the one very large eyesore revealed many little ones. There is a water meter, electric meter, air conditioning unit, furnace vents, a few miscellaneous wires and boxes for phone and electricity, a defunt cable hookup and chunk of broken veneer on the foundation we hadn't noticed before. Of course there are still 40-year-old yew stumps that need to be dealt with, as well. I foresee a bunch of my summer being involved in installing trellises and fences and camouflage plants. 'Tis the fun of home ownership, I suppose.

Monday, March 02, 2009


Note to self: Do not look up ways to prevent apple pests whilst eating breakfast. Not only are the pictures of the caterpillars yucky, but reading the words of one cheeky organic grower put me right off my feed. What were the words, you ask? Why of course they were "where's the other half of the worm?" blarf. Anyway, after wasting about an hour on the internet trying to become an expert on organic orchard maintenance, I think I'll just call my local Extension office and let them tell me what to do.

On a happier note, reading about apples and orchards always makes me sing this song.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Thursday to you

I don't have much to post here, but I have a few minutes to waste, so here I am. Not much knitting progress lately. I've been working exclusively on the entrelac afghan project. It's slow going, though. I'm most of the way through the next row of it, but then the kids both got sick (and have been trying to take me down with them), and every time I sit down it's more to snuggle than to knit. I'm not complaining, though. They are only little kids for a very short time and I am increasingly aware of how fast time flies.

I'm hosting a craft night at our church tonight. I hope it goes well. If there are a lot of people there, we'll need to meet in the Parish Hall, where the light isn't bright. If we are a smaller group, we can meet in a different room with better light. I hope it catches on. A few knitters (and a crocheter) have been meeting on Wednesday mornings for over a year now and we have a great time. But those people who work during the day cannot come. Also, scrapbookers and jewelry makers and woodworkers cannot really work at a coffee shop. *fingers crossed*

I'll post a progress pic of the afghan tomorrow, and maybe I'll frog another failed WIP, too, just for good measure. I'm really wanting to get all the unfinished business cleared up so I can start on some new stuff. I've got a hankering to knit another pair of socks.

Friday, January 30, 2009

And it's already Friday again

I'm not sure how that happened. It was just the 23rd, but now it is nearly February, and I'm due to finish something, as it's

But, nothing is finished yet. I have decided, however, to work on the afghan I started a long time ago. I had just learned entrelac and thought the idea of an entrelac afghan was fabulous. I still think it is fabulous. However, in execution, knitting an entrelac blanket large enough to cuddle in is just plain silly.

"I only have to count to 8" I said, "that makes it mindless knitting."
"It's good practice picking up stitches," I thought.
"It's just little blocks of stockinette, easy peasy" I quipped.

Dude. Entrelac, while lovely, is tedious once the magic of it is gone. When the "how in hell did I just manage to make yarn do that?!?" is gone, it's just plain knitting with a bunch of decreases and picked-up stitches thrown in for giggles.

Mind-numbingly tedious or not, I still like the idea of it, so it shall continue to grow. I do reserve the right to change my mind, stop knitting at some yet-to-be-determined point and call it a mere "throw" or a shawl even.

I also finished a pair of fingerless mitts this week. They are loosely based on a WWII Red Cross mitts pattern that was in Piecework Magazine last month, but there's really very little resemblance when it's all said and done. Please don't click to enlarge the picture, as then you could see both my lack of blocking the mitts and moisturizing the hands. I really ought to go get a manicure.

Friday, January 23, 2009

It's done

I feel a little like a hit man. I finally pulled the trigger and frogged a stole that I started last March, It had the potential to be gorgeous, but alas, it was accursed. I'm sad to see it go, but honestly, I'd never love it with the mistakes in it. Life is too short to finish reading bad books, and likewise too short to wear half-assed shawls.

RIP, Eye of Partridge Shawl.

But I now have two balls of Trekking XXL that I can use for other things.

It's Finishing Friday.

I've actually finished something, too! I started these socks for the Ravelympics, but I got sidetracked and they got stuffed in a bag and hung on a doorknob. I got them back out in November, intent on putting them in my daughter's Christmas stocking. Umm, fail.

But thanks to the genius of Majorknitter, who dubbed 2009 the Year of Decisions: a year during which all the WIPs become finished objects, or are undone and returned to the yarn stash. I decided that it would be good to start with something easy, so I pulled out the socks and finished them up. Nora loves them and wore them to school today, in spite of the fact that I screwed up and made one about three-quarters of an inch shorter than the other.

If I can manage to finish some housework in time, I just might frog something today, too. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I am a bad yarn mom

Yesterday I decided to clean my office. I can manage to keep most of the house moderately respectable, but it is usually the office that gets all the overflow when people are coming over, and it's the place where most of the bills and mail come, so that's a constant struggle. But the worst part of my office shame comes from the yarn that lives here. You, my faithful reader, might recall my yarn stash finding a new home a little over a year ago. I was so proud, it looked so nice.

But over that last year there have been projects started and finished, also a fair number of projects started and abandoned. There were swatches knit, new yarn acquired, and searches conducted. Some random skeins were pulled from their home and plopped unceremoniously on this desk, to end up tangled in computer cords. Other yarns were hastily rewound and shoved back in or atop the armoire, to become tangled with other yarns and needles that had been treated equally as poorly. I knew it was a mess, but until I pulled out every poor, mistreated bit of string in my house and put them all on the table, I didn't know the magnitude of my transgressions.

Meanwhile, I had already decided to join in the fun with a bunch of others dedicated to Finishing or Frogging all those WIPs in the closet. As part of that endeavor, I decided to also get really honest with myself about how many projects sit in the cabinet and in bags on doorknobs, languishing on their needles, that need to be finished or completely undone.

This is the result:
Yarns that need to be re-wound and re-homed. They also need a good solid apology for my mistreatment. It was like woolen Gitmo in there. Poor things.

And projects that need to be resolved one way or the other (By the way, Penny thinks I am a very good kitty mom, for providing her such a soft and lovely sunny spot for her afternoon siesta):

As you can see, I need to get busy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Pattern: "Nora", a child's winter headband

This is a simple headband with a 3-st seed stitch border on each side, then a cable up the middle. It's super easy once you get the rhythm of it. It's really only wide enough to cover a child's ears as I've written it, but if you used a wider border or bulkier yarn, it would be great for a grown-up, too. :)

Ravelry Link to the pattern. :)
From Drop Box
I've never written a pattern before, so if there are any parts that aren't clear, please let me know and I can fix them.

Worsted weight yarn
US7 (4.5 mm) needles

Here it is:
CO 14 stitches (use provisional if you choose, or you can just pick up stitches on the CO edge later)
knit one row across

Set-up rows:
Rows 1&3 (rs): k1, p1, k1, p2, k4, p2, k1, p1, k1
Rows 2&4 (ws): k1, p1, k1, k2, p4, k2, k1, p1, k1

Begin cable pattern:

Row 1: k1, p1, k1, p2, slip 2 st onto a cable needle to the front, k2, knit the st from the cable needle, p2, k1, p1, k1
Rows 2, 4, 6: k1, p1, k1, k2, p4, k2, k1, p1, k1
Rows 3 & 5: k1, p1, k1, p2, k4, p2, k1, p1, k1
Repeat cable pattern until desired length*, ending on row 5 of cable pattern

Begin decreases for the tie:
Knit one row across (ws)
Row 1: k5, s1,k1,PSSO, k2tog, k5
WS rows: knit across
Row 2: k4, s1,k1,PSSO, k2tog, k4
continue on, decreasing the center stitches until you have 4 stitches left.
Knit i-cord with those 4 stitches until you have about 3"
Tie off i-cord, break yarn.
At CO edge, pick up 14 stitches, and work exactly as you did the decreases for the the other end.
weave in ends.
take a picture and show it to me.

*"desired length for us was enough to cover from one ear lobe across the top of her head, to the other ear lobe. All kids head will be different. :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A new FO

I have no fancy name for this, but I made a headband for my daughter. It's way too cold for it today, though. It is currently -16 degrees outside-- that's not windchill, that's the actual temp! But on the winter days when it isn't too cold, I still want her to keep her ears warm. She's getting to that age when she doesn't want to go messing up her hairdo willy nilly. (I am very not ready for this grown-up kids thing.)

So anyway, here it is. It's knit out of a pinky-purpley vintage yarn that's a little fuzzy like mohair, but otherwise a decent yarn.
From Drop Box

Yarn: Pingouin Mousse
Needles: 4.5 mm (US7)
Eventually I'll write out the pattern and name it. I think I'll make a few more of these for gifts.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Busy busy busy!

I've been actually getting some stuff done lately. I'm as amazed as anyone, really. Since there's a lot of stuff to share, I'll get right to it.

First, on December 30, I decided to turn an old t-shirt into yarn. It's really easy (Thanks, Alwen!) and I love not having to throw out all that perfectly good cotton. I'm such a packrat. Anyway, the resultant yarn is a little thicker than I'd like, but never having done it before, I didn't know what I was doing exactly, I didn't cut the strips thin enough. I'll do that next time, said Jack. I knit up a swatch, and will definitely try it again. This is about 3/4 of the yardage from the one shirt (men's sz medium) and is a 6" square. I used my trusty 9mm bamboo needles for this.
From ravelry

Next up is a Panta headband. I used about 70 yards of leftover Patons Classic Merino for this. I was so anxious to get started on this, I didn't even bother to wind the yarn into a ball first. I just looped the hank over my neck. That's true slacker knitting for you, right there.
From ravelry

It took no time at all, and I really am happy with it. It keeps my ears warm, and doesn't do funky things to my hair. That's all anyone really can ask of a wool head band, no?
From ravelry

I also have been baking lately, but I'll save that for another post. I have dough in the kitchen that won't turn into a loaf without me. ;)