Thursday, May 31, 2012

May Reading List

Books Read in May

074 - 01 To Ride Pegasus, by Anne McCaffrey (5/1) 
075 - 02 Only Yours, by Susan Mallory (5/4)
076 - 03 The Knitting Diaries, by Macomber, Mallery and Skye (5/5) 
077 - 04 Baby, Come Home, by Stephanie Bond (5/5)
078 - 05 Baby, Drive South, by Stephanie Bond (5/6)
079 - 06 The Sherbrooke Bride, by Catherine Coulter (5/6) 
080 - 07 The Wary Widow, by Jerrica Knight-Catania (5/8)
081 - 08 Ape House, by Sara Gruen (5/9) AUDIOBOOK 
082 - 09 The Silent Girl, by Tess Gerritsen (5/17) 
083 -10 The Dead Cat Bounce, by Sarah Graves (5/19)
084 - 11 Baby, Don't Go, by Stephanie Bond (5/23) 
085 - 12 Ice Cold, by Tess Gerritsen (5/22)
086 - 13 Last Train to Paradise, by Les Standiford (5/25)
087 - 14 Girlchild, by Tupelo Hassman (5/26)
088 - 15 Star Island, by Carl Hiaasen (5/27)
089 - 16 Born in a Small Town, by Macomber, Corser, and  Johnson (5/28) 
090 - 17 The Hellion Bride, by Catherine Coulter (5/30)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Try, try again

I don't have any finished objects to report, unfortunately. The baby sweater is still waiting to be seamed. But I did go ahead and start my Casey shawl, using a Louet pattern and Tahki cotton classic yarn. When we were up in Orlando a few trips ago, I had seen a sample of this shawl and fell in love with it. Since I don't have a rectangular shawl, obviously a grievous oversight in my wardrobe, I decided I needed to knit one for myself.

Now that I've started, it seems like it's going to be an easy knit. I had some trouble getting started, though. I cast on using size 6 needles, and after finishing a full pattern repeat (12+ rows) I decided that the shawl wasn't going to be wide enough. My gauge was off, and a thin rectangular shawl is just a scarf. So I knit a pattern repeat using size 8 needles. This helped widen the shawl, but not enough. Plus I didn't like the drape of the fabric with the bigger needles. I asked for advice from my knitting group, and we all agreed that the smaller needles looked better. So I frogged the work I had done, and cast on again. This time I added 24 stitches so that the smaller needles would still give me the width I wanted. I'm several pattern repeats in, and I love it!

* ~ * ~ *
Blanket Update:
29 squares in 150 days
Total number of squares completed: 670

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A fitness obsession

For the past couple of weeks, I've been trying to come up with something active I could obsess over. I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone that I tend to go overboard when I take an interest in something. Just look at the number of posts I've written on cupcakes and cookies, or look at the amount of yarn and fiber I have stashed. (Better yet, don't look at my yarn stash - I live in fear that someone is going to call Hoarders and report me.)

I am totally convinced that if I could get interested in some type of physical activity, I would obsess my way into being healthy and skinny. The problem is coming up with an active that is both interesting and practical.

Kayaking almost fits the bill. I already know that it's a lot of fun, and it would get me out on the water more often. I really do like boating. I also like fishing, and you can fish from a kayak. I almost had myself convinced to take up the sport. Then I found two problems with the idea. First of all, have you ever priced a kayak? It's not horrible, but it isn't something I can run out and buy in the next week or so. It's going to take a bit of time to be able to afford one. (Oh, to be rich and reckless.) And sure, I could start exercising in preparation for when I can get a kayak, but what fun is that? My second hesitation is the idea that most of my trips would have to be alone. Is it safe to kayak by yourself? Actually, the question is would I be safe kayaking alone? So I've decided to think a little more before I can allow kayaking to be an obsession.

Luckily, I may have just found an alternative. Fitocracy is a online game that gives you points for exercising. Some workouts earn more points than others, which is how it should be. There are also special quests that give you bonus points. You can play against yourself, or join different teams if you want to compete with others.

I've never been much of a gamer, but I think that I could get into this. The idea of playing a fitness game online amuses me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Whatcha listening to?

At our knitting group, a friend and I got to talking about the different podcasts we listen to. Now that I'm commuting to work (my drive can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour each way, depending on the whims of traffic), I've been listening to even more podcasts.

Some of my long-time favorites podcasts have ended. Meaghan of Stitch It! recently decided to spend more time with her family and less time recording. I've listened to her for so long that I felt like I was losing a friend when she made  the announcement. There have been a few other podcasts that have just faded off this past year.

Luckily, there are several new shows that I've found. And surprisingly, not all of them are knitting. Here's a brief summary of what's on my ipod. By the way, all of the podcasts can be found on itunes.


The High Fiber Diet Podcast - This was the second podcast I've found, and by now I feel like Coggie and Sarge are members of my family. Lately there's been a bit of language that bothers me (I have my own little soapbox, and Sarge has gotten me up on it a few times), but I just can't let go. Family is family. Besides, Coggie is funny, informative, and I love her style.

Knit Obsession with Zknits - She's only putting out a show every month or so, but it's worth catching them when they come out.

Knitting Brooklyn - This is a brand-new podcast. She talks about knitting, spinning, and anything else that pops into her head. My big negative on this is that she refers too much to other podcasts - I don't listen to the same ones that she does and even if I did I'm not sure I want to hear her talk about them. I'd rather hear her own stuff. On the other hand,  I love that she's so close to where my daughter is - I recognize many of the places she talks about. So I may stick with it.

Knitting Pipeline - Paula talks about knitting, nature and bagpipes. Plus she actually met Elizabeth Zimmermann. (How cool is that?)

Subway Knits - A knitting podcast by a NYC teacher - how could I not love it?

Never Not Knitting - This is an extremely well-done knitting podcast by an extremely talented designer.


Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase - Although I didn't read her book, I've always enjoyed Betty's stories that she's collected while working as a flight attendant.

The Crush - This is one of my two wine podcasts. I've learned a lot from Whitney and Christina, although they do make me feel rather old and un-cool.

Escape Pod - Science fiction stories. Do I need to say anything else?

The Moth - This is always the first podcast I name when someone asks me for a recommendation. It's true stories, told by real people. Sometimes the people and stories are everyday tales, and sometimes they're incredibly amazing. I have a dream that someday I'm going to attend a live Moth event in NYC.

Pub Songs Podcast - It's all Irish/Celtic music, with a lot of geeky spoofed songs added in. It's wonderful. Plus Marc Gunn reminds me of one of my favorite cousins (Charlie) - I'm not sure why, but I think of Charlie every single time I listen to this podcast and it makes me smile.

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me - I just started listening to this podcast. It's a public radio call-in show that's very funny and very up-to-date. I also get a kick out of hearing the technical advisor for the show is Robert Newhouse. I know it's (probably) not one of my relatives, but I still get a kick thinking it might be.

Wine for Normal People - Everything I know about wine, I learned from Elizabeth.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A little bit of knitting

I haven't made much progress with my knitting this week. Which is strange, since I feel like I've done nothing but knit. Well, knit and bake. Actually, I guess I've been busier baking and not-so-much with the knitting. Sigh.

The baby sweater just needs to be seamed, and then the button band added. Which basically means that I should have it ready by the time the child starts college.

I did manage to do a bunch of squares on the sock blanket. Fourteen squares is a bunch, isn't it?

Maybe next week I'll actually have some real knitting done. In the meantime, do you want a cupcake?

* ~ * ~ *
Blanket Update:
23 squares in 143 days
Total number of squares completed: 664
The goal is 1054 squares, so I've knit 63%!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A (self-) catered affair

I did it! The Volunteer Luncheon was a great success. I had 13 of my office volunteers show up, and they all seemed to enjoy the meal. I made ham and cheddar quiche with spinach salad for lunch, followed by cupcakes and cookies for dessert. I did all the cooking, and a friend from the church volunteered to assist as waitress. It was fun, and I think it is going to become an annual event.

I mean, I've been a little nuts (and obsessed) for the past week or so, but it was totally worth it.

The cupcakes turned out great, once I had the complete recipe for the lemonade ones. I also made chocolate coconut cupcakes. Originally I had planned on filling the chocolate ones with a creme filling, but I didn't have enough time thanks to the lemonade fiasco. But since nobody knew the chocolate cupcakes were supposed to be filled with creme, it didn't really matter that they weren't.

I was really pleased with my "cupcake stand." 

Yes, I think I did good. And I think I'm going to go get one of those leftover cookies...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kitchen mailfunction. Or rather, Baker Malfunction.

I found what I thought sounded like a great recipe for Lemonade Cupcakes.  So I printed out the recipe, and decided to make them for the Volunteer Luncheon.

Unfortunately, I ended up with horribly dense, flat blobs instead of the light, airy lemony confections that I had hoped for. To be fair, they tasted really, really good. But  there is no way that I serve these at the luncheon.

I did think about turning them into a layered dessert, with a sweet cream pudding. But I don't have time to do that right now. So it's back to the drawing board, or rather internet, for more research.

And guess what. It's my own fault (sorta) that the cupcakes turned out the way they did. In my printed recipe, there is no mention of eggs. I had thought that was strange when I was making them, but figured I should trust in the recipe and follow it blindly. Bad decision. Because when you look at the original recipe posted online, there are eggs. Three of them, in fact. Somehow, when I printed the recipe that line was omitted off the bottom of the page.

Luckily I have enough ingredients to try this again.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


I've been busy making butterflies today.

Cookie butterflies.

 And fondant butterflies. This is actually the first time I've ever used fondant, so I'm very pleased with the way they've turned out. I'll be using them as decoration on the tops of the cupcakes.

Very pretty!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The countdown has begun

First I overslept. (It wasn't my fault. I was up most of the night because my neighbors were having a very loud party. Which I didn't complain about because it's the first time since I've moved in that they've been noisy. And I know that they can't say the same about me.)

Then I spent the afternoon (if you count the afternoon as lasting from lunch until well after dinnertime) with mom. First we met up with the Stuart knitting group. Afterwards, we went for a "quick" shopping trip looking for supplies.

When I got home, I couldn't resist trying to hook up the Roku that my children sent me for Mother's Day. (There's a long story involved, but I received the package today.) Even though there is only four steps involved (plug the unit into the TV, plug it into the wall, put batteries in the remote, and turn on the TV), I wasn't able to my new Roku to work. For a long-time geeky nerd, I'm not very talented when it comes to the television. I still can only watch movies on the dvd when my daughter is home. (Which is why they bought me a Roku. Since I can handle the computer so well, they thought hooking my TV into the internet would solve my problem and I would finally be able to watch shows alone.)

Finally, having outlasted all possible distractions, I started preparations for Tuesday's luncheon.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sometimes you have to be careful what you ask for

Thanks to my wonderful daughter, I have a dining room table. I'm very excited. When we moved into the new apartment, I had to give up my big kitchen table. There just wasn't room for it, after I put the floor loom and my daughter's desk in the dining nook. And originally I thought I wouldn't miss having the table, since we did have a breakfast bar.

But I've found that I really do need a dining room table. It's very difficult to use my sewing machine sitting on the floor. Standing up at the kitchen counters makes rubber stamping cards and letters uncomfortable, and takes the fun out of it. Most of all, I miss sitting down to eat dinner with my daughter across from me. Balancing our plates on our laps in the living room in front of the (until recently, blank) television was awkward and uncomfortable.

So for the past month or so, my constant whine has been that I want a dining room table. Just a little one, nothing fancy or expensive. I'm not sure whether my daughter agreed with me or if she just wanted to shut me up, or perhaps (most likely) she really loves me and wanted to make me happy - but she bought us a dining room table. A friend  was getting new furniture, and Becka arranged to buy the table from her.

I love it! It's old. Really old. And it's been well loved, which makes it all the more special in my mind. It's very obvious to me that this table holds a lot of memories in it's bumps and scratches. It's just big enough for the two of us, and it fits perfectly into the little bit of space left over in the dining room nook. There is even a leaf, just in case I talk someone into coming over for dinner. (I'm making lasagna, any takers?)

There's only one, tiny little problem. She didn't get any chairs with the table. "But mom, you said you wanted a table. You never mentioned anything about chairs."

I told my mom this story, that my daughter bought me a table but no chairs. Before I could get any further, mom interrupted me with, "But Sandi, did you ever say you wanted chairs? All you've been saying is that you wanted a table." And this is why my daughter and my mother are best friends.

(Just to clarify --  my mother knew that, just like any sane adult, I wanted chairs to go with the table. Her response was an acknowledgement of the way my daughter thinks, and surprise at the fact that I didn't take that into consideration. If someone my daughter loves asks for something, she'll get it for them. And she'll get them exactly what they ask for.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wednesday's WIPs

 A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had finished the Mobius Lace Cowl that mom and I were doing as a knit-along. I finally have a picture of it. The more I look at it, and fondle it, the more I like it. Originally I had intended to give it away, but it's mine. I need to get a plain tee-shirt so that I can wear it to work.

Mom still hasn't managed to get her's cast on properly. We're going to try to get together this weekend to work on it. But I will resist the temptation to cast on a second cowl.

 The baby sweater is coming along nicely. If, that is, you consider ripping out and re-knitting a front panel nice. But I only have one more sleeve to knit, then I get to start seaming all the tiny, little pieces together. And then I get to weave in all the ends. Sigh. I really hate finishing work. I just keep telling myself how adorable the finished sweater will be, and how cute the child will be in it. I've gotten some recent pictures and he's growing quickly so I really need to get this sweater together soon.

The other night I was really tired. You know when you get over-tired and you're too restless to go to bed, you can't manage to sit still, but you're just so out of it that it isn't worth attempting anything? So I pulled out the sock blanket and did a couple of squares. I've really neglected it this year. I hadn't made it a goal to do a square a day, and as a result I just haven't done any. But there are now 9 squares I can claim for the year.

I have a beautiful brass towel holder that doesn't fit in my tiny apartment bathroom that I've been storing in my patio closet because I love it too much to give it up. (I don't know why I'm so attached to the thing, but there you have it.) I decided to put it out in the living room, and I've got the blanket draped over the top in order to display it. Then I used a wonderful idea I found through pinteres and wound my little bits of sock yarn on clothespins. These are displayed in a basket on the bottom of the "Blanket Rack." I think it looks beautiful. It certainly adds color to the living room!

One thing that I did this week that I immediately regretted was to teach my cat to play with yarn. Honestly, I never thought she would pay any attention to my games. Missy is just about the laziest creature you'll ever find. She runs only to jump in your lap to be cuddled. Otherwise, she's content to use the power of her mind to get everyone to bring her whatever she wants. If something isn't within paws reach, she'll just ignore it. (Watching my daughter try to trick the cat into moving is hilarious!)

So I figured I would swing the ball of yarn past her, she'd bat it once, then ignore it as soon as it moved out of her reach. Nope. Missy has decided that yarn balls are the one game worth chasing after. Sigh. I have no one to blame but myself.

* ~ * ~ *
Blanket Update:
9 squares in 136 days

(Status: It's a good thing I decided against doing a square a day as a goal this year!)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Imagination is a wonderful thing!

This is my big thrift-store find - a cupcake display stand. Okay, I know it doesn't look like much more than a huge cup and glass tray. But picture it with cupcakes inside the glass, surrounded by cupcakes on the tray. Trust me, it's going to be great!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Moscato D'Asti Casa Sant'Orsola

I treated myself to this bottle of wine because it was on sale (just $7.99 at Total Wine this week). Even off sale it's only around $10, so it's a very affordable "splurge."

Moscato D'Asti is a sweet, sparkling wine. I don't know if it's true for all of the Moscato D'Asti wines, but this bottle comes from Italy. I like the bubbles, although the pop started me when I uncorked it.

I had trouble identifying any notes on my nose, especially at first when the wine was still very chilled. I blame that on my sinuses rather than it being too delicate a wine since the next night I was able to detect a fresh fruity scent with musty after notes of pineapple and mango. The taste is very sweet and bubbly, followed by fruit - peaches and slightly citrus. I did drink it by itself, as my dessert, although it would pair well with real desserts or fruit.

Although it was very sweet even for me, I'll probably get it again. I'm giving it three stars. (The third star is mostly because of the price.)
  • 1 star = It was okay but nothing special
  • 2 stars = It was good and I liked it
  • 3 stars = It was good and I'd buy it again
  • 4 stars = I really, really like it, enough to call it a favorite
  • 5 stars = It's mine, all mine! And I don't want to share.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grown don't mean nothing to a mother.

A child is a child.  They get bigger, older, but grown?  What's that suppose to mean?  In my heart it don't mean a thing.  (Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987)

Becka and PJ took me out to dinner for Mother's Day.  Keeping with family tradition (last year and this year, therefore making it a tradition), we went to a hibachi grill. We decided to try a local restaurant, Sawa Hibachi Steakhouse, based on recommendations on the Urban Spoon website. It was a great decision; we really enjoyed the food. 

Best of all, though, was the company. It's been difficult getting used to having adult children. I miss the fun of when they were younger and entirely mine, but I like seeing the adults they've become under my influence (good and bad.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Butterfly World

 One of my favorite places to visit is the Butterfly World in Coconut Creek. I don't go very often, because  (1) it's a little expense and (2) it's a long ride to get there. But this weekend they were giving free admission to all mothers, so mom and I decided to go. I was surprised at how close it was to my new apartment. It was only about a half-hour drive, which really isn't bad at all. I'm thinking of investing in the annual membership, which would make it a very reasonable weekend, or even afternoon, activity.

 Needless to say, mom and I had a great time. I took over 100 pictures (I love digital cameras!), including a great one of my mom looking at the butterfly on her shoulder. A couple of the pictures are going to be framed for my wall. And most of the rest will become note cards.

Friday, May 11, 2012


I've recently become obsessed with an online game, Words with Friends. This is, of course, my children's fault. My two oldest have smart phones, and while my daughter was down visiting they were constantly checking their phone for moves. The two kids play against each other, against friends and co-workers, and even against total strangers.

The only real complaint I have about my children is that they don't call me often enough. (In fact, I had a little discussion about that with my oldest, explaining to her the immense fear and guilt I carry around with me that something horrible will happen to her and it will be weeks before I find out because not getting a phone call is normal.) Since the kids really seemed to like the game enough to play even with me, and since scrabble is one of my favorite board games, I decided to add the app to my Nook.

So far I've won two of the three games with my son. (And yes, I'm bragging about that.) The first game was played fast and furious. I was actually a little concerned with how quickly he would respond, because I knew he was at work. We've calmed down to just making three or four moves a day. There's been some memorable moments, such as his response when I texted him "Why are you still up so late?" after he had sent me a move at 12:15 am: "Who are you, my mother? Oh wait, you are." Mostly, though, I just enjoy the quick interaction with my son throughout the day as we add a word to the game.

With my daughter, the game is much slower. We're still battling the first round. Moves are deliberate, which is a nice way of saying it takes her a week to respond to me. Sigh. I content myself with the knowledge that her life is full, and she's busy researching words to play against me.

By the way, my youngest does not have a smart phone and claims that even if she did have one with the Words with Friends app, she knows better than to challenge mom to scrabble. Or Trivia. But she would be willing to play Dodge Ball or Volley Ball or just about any other "real" game against me.

In the past few days, I've expanded beyond my family.I've found friends online, and have been found by friends online, to play the game with. I have several games in process, which makes me feel like one of the popular geeks. I accept all challenges, so look me up. I'm sandrilene, or just find me on facebook.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Sandi knit a little lamb, a little lamb, and another lamb.

I really love this pattern. Even if it does mean that I'm going to have to seam everything up. And even if the pattern was wrong and I have to re-knit one of the front pieces because the lamb is facing the wrong way.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Rainbow Cake

It really isn't safe to leave me alone, bored, in a kitchen. I didn't have the ingredients for cookies, or good cupcakes. So I settled for playing with a cake mix.

The result is that I'm still alone in the house, I'm back to being bored, and there is pretty cake.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Ninja Spider

I may have to move.

Seriously. I won't ever be able to sleep in the apartment again. And I can't go into the bathroom without someone accompanying me, which really isn't at all practical. So the only sensible thing to do is to move.

The whole thing started a couple of days ago. I was in the bathroom, never mind what I was doing in there but I was minding to my own business, when I looked up and saw a huge spider on the shower curtain. He looked right at me, and shook one of his long, hairy legs. No really, he did. I ran out of the room, ran back in and grabbed my clothes, then ran back out again. By the time I convinced my daughter to go in after him, he was gone.

Yesterday, I saw him again. And once again, he gestured at me. My daughter tried to convince me that he was just waving "hello." But in my heart I knew that he was not being friendly.

This morning, he made his move. He jumped me! He literally jumped on top of me. It's a good thing that the bolt was still on the front door, because otherwise I would have made it out into the parking lot before I stopped screaming. My daughter went back into the bathroom for a towel and my clothes, which she thought was more important than killing that spider. I really wish she had gone for the spider first, since it was gone by the time she got back in there.

As far as I'm concerned, the spider has won. The bathroom is all his. I'll be joining a gym and showering there until I can find a new apartment.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence. Of course, superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage. (Elizabeth Zimmerman)

Today made up for Thursday. I made it to the knitting group, after a way-too-long absence and was enthusiastically welcomed back.

I guess you really can go home again. You just have to figure out where home really is.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Who are you again?

I don't have much to say today. I'm feeling very depressed. I made arrangements to see an old co-worker, and it just wasn't the thrill that I thought it would be. I wasn't expecting hugs and tears of welcome, but I also wasn't expecting distraction and inattention.

Oh well, they say you can't go home again.* I guess that applies to jobs that you felt were your home, as well.

*Note to my daughter: YOU can come home anytime. So disregard the second paragraph above!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Monkeys and sheep, with a mobius twist

I finished my monkey socks, and then promptly sent them home with Cari without ever getting a picture of them. Drats!

My next project was a lace mobius cowl. I didn't really want to knit a cowl, because really, what am I going to do with a cowl? (For those who don't know what a cowl is, it's basically a looped scarf.) But mom wanted to knit the pattern, and since the pattern involved a really cool cast-on method that I knew I'd have to help her with anyway, I decided to make it a knit-along project. I tried to talk Cari into casting one on as well, but that was too hard a sell. I found some really great yarn at Hobby Lobby and immediately fell in love with the project.

Well, maybe not so immediately. It took me almost a dozen attempts to cast on. Once I finally got it figured out, the knitting was great. I finished in just a couple of days (mom, meanwhile, never did catch on to the cast-on). I did my bind off, and discovered that the extra stitches I had added, thinking that the original number called for in the pattern was going to make the cowl too small for me to wear, ended up being a mistake. The cowl was just too big around and it looked ridiculous. So I pulled the entire thing out, and started over again. This time I cast on just the number called for in the pattern (taking only two attempts this time to get it right), and I reknit the entire cowl. It is a fun knit, so doing it the second wasn't a heartbreak. And it turned out to be beautiful. I'm going to have to buy a plain purple, or maybe just a black, t-shirt so that I can wear it to work. The lace gives it more of a collar or shawl look, rather than being a heavy scarf. And the yarn is so soft and pretty! Unfortunately, I still haven't gotten a picture of the finished project. But as soon as I do, I'll post it. For the record, the stretchy lace also means that you can get it on and off without messing up your hair. (This was Cari's big reason against knitting it.)

After the mobius, I started a lamb project using cotton yarn bought while we were at Hobby Lobby. I won't say who this is for, but it is a 12 month size. (Hint, hint.) I found the pattern in a book from the library called Creature Comforts by Amy Bahrt. What a wonderful book! I think I'm going to end up buying a copy of it. Besides the lambs, which I couldn't resist knitting, there are sweaters with cows, and ducks, and an elephant that will probably be my next project - they're all so cute! And color work is so much fun to knit. It really is a shame that so many of my relatives and friends with babies failed to send me pictures of their children in the things I've already knit for them. Luckily, there are still a number of babies I need to knit for, so I'm happy.