Saturday, October 12, 2013

On my walk today...

This is the St. Lucie Catholic Church in Port St. Lucie. I love the tiled picture of St. Lucy on the front of this church. In the picture St. Lucy is holding a wheat stalk and a dish with two eyes. I'm not sure why she has the wheat. She holds the eyes because according to church legend, St. Lucy was tortured for being a Christian after her jilted pagan bridegroom turned her in to the officials. When her eyes were put out as a part of the torture, God restored her sight. For this, and because her name means "light," St. Lucy is the patron saint of the blind and sight-impaired.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Following in My Daughter's Footsteps

My favorite thing this week is the Classic Pour-Over Brewer I bought from Starbucks. It's just like the one my daughter had when I visited her in NYC last April. I hate to admit it, but my daughter was right. Again.

I've been wanting a Keurig coffee maker. I have a pretty good coffee maker. It's got a timer so I can set up the pot the night before and the coffee will automatically brew in the morning. This was the perfect coffee maker when my youngest was still living with me. Having coffee ready in the morning was wonderful. But now that it's just me in the apartment, it doesn't make sense to make a pot (or even just half a pot) of coffee every day. I end up drinking too much coffee, and throwing a bunch away. So instead, I've been waiting until I get to work to have a cup. But I missed having a cup as I get ready in the morning. A Keurig seemed to be the answer.

Keurig's let you make just one cup at a time, quickly and easily. Unfortunately, Keurig's are a lot of money and it's hard to justify spending that much on a coffee maker when I already have one. Then I was at my favorite coffee shop, and the barrista made me a pour over since the pot of my preferred blend wasn't ready. It was one of the best cups of brewed coffee I've ever had. So I bought the pour over brewer.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned that my daughter has one of these. When I was visiting her, I couldn't quite figure out how to use it. I thought it was just another one of those odd ideas she picked up on living in the city. Since she isn't a coffee drinker herself, what could she know.

It turns out, she knew more than I did. The pour over, when used properly, is amazing. I use a slightly coarser ground bean, if I have the opportunity to grind it myself. If I'm feeling cheap, I just get an off-the-shelf regular grind. I've learned that it's better if I wet the filter with a little bit of the hot, boiling water (from my electric kettle, which is always on my counter top anyway for making tea) before adding the coffee. Then I slowly add hot water to the grounds, until I've added the full cup and let it drain. If  I'm feeling fancy, I warm my milk (okay, it's usually Almond Breeze since I can't have milk/casein) and froth it with a tiny battery-operated frother before adding it to my coffee. Yum!

In fact, I  think I'm going to go have a cup now.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

TechnoThursday - Instagram

I resisted the siren call of Instagram as long as I could. Although I love taking pictures and showing them off, it was difficult to figure out why I would need to join the Instagram community. After all, there's Facebook and my blog -- surely that's enough self-promotion  for any normal person.

Several of my knitting circle are on Instagram, and they have managed to convert me to the wonders of this program. I love that I can share what I am doing, in the moment. There's no finding time later to upload and describe, which is what's involved with a blog post. And, for now anyway, I don't have to edit and limit what I share since I only have a handful of followers who even know I'm on. So I can have fun and be me without censoring. (There are too many family and professional ties on Facebook to feel that same freedom.)

I have Instagram as an app on my iphone. I can take a picture from within the app, or use a photo from my phone's photo library. There are some really nice editing tools, including several filters as well as cropping and focus. You can let your photo speak for itself, or add a short note as you upload it. Others are free to "heart" your photo and/or add their own comments. You can follow people you know, which puts all of their photo posts in your updates. If you're bored, you can randomly view pictures other people have posted. I found a fellow tatter that way -- she's become a wonderful resource for tatting patterns.

I still feel that a lot of our online communities are just self-promotion  rather than real friendship. But I'm willing to buy into that, if it allows me an outlet and an excuse to keep taking pretty pictures.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Wednesday is WIP day

I am extremely happy to be able to say that I have finished knitting my Priscilla shrug. I still need to sew the arms and weave in the ends, but that can be done very quickly. I really love this project. The Malibrigo yarn is so soft and cuddly. I used a little over 3 skeins, and because Malibrigo is a single ply, pure wool yarn I added each skein by doing a spit join. Literally, you spit on each end so that you can join them together by hand felting them together. It's disgusting, but very effective. The best part is that it leaves no ends that have to be woven in.

I made a tiny bit of progress on the socks. I don't even know what I'm calling this project anymore, I've frogged and restarted so many times. And I think there's probably one more frogging in its future. I like the yarn; it's very comfortable to knit. I love the colorway, although it is just a bit too variegated to work with (or apparently, without) a complex stitch pattern. All in all, I feel like I should be a lot happier knitting socks and this pair just isn't doing it for me.

I did end up casting on a different pair of socks. NOT because I'm unhappy with the pair I've been working on. I am totally determined to get that pair finished one way or another. But I had jury duty Tuesday, and I wanted to bring a fun knitting project with me. So I grabbed a pretty skein of sock yarn and I cast on a Monkey sock at the courthouse. This yarn, Alpaca Sox from Classic Elite Yarns, is another very variegated colorway. (They call it #1850, just in case you were wondering. I wish yarn companies were required to use fun names -- numbered colorways are so very undescriptive.) I've made several pairs using Cookie A's Monkey pattern, so I practically have it memorized. And since it works up equally great with wild colors as it does in a solid color, it seemed like a good choice for courthouse socks. I'm doing this pair a little differently, at least for me. I have two sets of my size 2 dpns tied up with the first pair of socks (let's refer to them as the Froggy Socks, just to make things easier). Which left me with only free 1 set the size 2 dpns (that I could easily find, anyway). Normally I cast on the first sock and knit the cuff, then cast on the 2nd sock and knit the cuff and the leg, go back to the first sock and knit the leg and the heel flap, so back to the 2nd sock and knit the heel flap, and so on. By doing each portion of my socks alternately, it means that I only have a toe left to knit after I kitchner off the toe of the first sock. Because I only have the 1 set of dpns, this pair is going to have be knit one complete sock at a time. Unless, of course, I break down and buy another set of dpns. Which I'll probably end up doing. Sigh. This is why my needle stash is almost as large as my yarn stash.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Doing these chores is not a privilege

When my children were little, I was able to convince them that doing chores was a privileged. I rewarded good behavior by letting them help me clean the house. It was a pretty great racket while it lasted.

Unfortunately, I've always been aware that doing chores is not a treat. There are some things I really don't mind doing. For instance, I love to mow the lawn -- although keep in mind I say that as a long-time apartment dweller. And I like to sweep, and wash the dishes, and vacuum. But there are some chores that are, well, a chore to do. Today's "Ten on Tuesday" is a list of the ten chores I hate to do.

  1. My most-hated chore has to be cleaning the bathtub. It's uncomfortable to bend over to get to it, but there isn't any room to kneel and do it in my tiny little apartment bathroom. On the other hand, it's the most satisfying chore to finish, because I love a gleaming white tub!
  2. I don't like to dust. I don't hate it, but I'm easily distracted from doing it. And moving all the little collectibles and the various knitting supplies that find their way to the various shelves and tables provide plenty of distractions.
  3. I don't like to do the laundry. Which isn't really true. I don't like taking my laundry to the laundry. When I had my own washer and dryer, it was my favorite chore. And if I go to an actual laundry mat, that's not so bad. It's no longer my favorite chore, but I don't mind. It gives me an excuse to indulge in a large soda, and I get to sit and read and/or knit while the clothes are in the machines. Most of the time, there are really fascinating people to watch at the laundry mat. It's having to go back and forth to the laundry room at the apartment complex that I hate. First, there's no change machine which means I have to go to a store, or late at night to McDonald's, and beg for quarters. The room has windows on two sides, so everyone passing and can see in as I fold my clothes. (I accept that it's not logical to hold this against the laundry room. I'm aware that people can see me folding my clothes at a laundry mat. But those people are busy folding their own clothes and don't have time to watch me fold mine. It's thinking that my neighbors might be watching me folding my impulsively purchased sexy nighty or the old ragged sweatshirt I wear when I have the flu that freaks me out.) And since it's so close to the apartment, I don't even get an excuse to sit and read/knit. (Although I still usually end up with the large soda, a result of the above-mentioned begging for quarters.)
  4. I don't like changing the sheets on the bed. I like clean sheets, so they get changed every week without fail. But I don't enjoy doing it.
  5. Another chore I could do without is cleaning out the cat's litter box. I don't think any explanation is necessary on this one.
  6. Surprisingly, I don't like filing. I'm an organizational freak. I admit it. Every single piece of paper that crosses my desk (either at home or at work) has a place, and any paper not in its place makes me anxious and somewhat crazy. And yet I really hate to file. It makes no sense, but there it is.
  7. I won't clean the cobwebs in the corners of the room. As far as I'm concerned this is a job for whoever comes to visit me, whether they are a relative, friend, a random salesman, or even a Jehovah's Witness. I am completely phobic about spiders. Cobwebs are made by spiders. Therefore, there is no way I can get even within a broom's length of the offending cobwebs. Hence, anyone who comes by is obligated - at least in my eyes - to save me from the spiders that are trying to take over my home.
  8. Cleaning the oven is another chore that I avoid as long as possible. Which makes no sense, since I have a self-cleaning oven. But I always put it off as long as possible. When I do finally clean it, I feel so wonderfully happy that I have to wonder why I put it off for so long.
  9. I don't like washing the patio furniture. Cleaning the patio is like cleaning the car -- as soon as you finish, it starts raining and all your work is wasted.
  10. Which brings me to the tenth and final chore I don't like: washing my car. Thank goodness I have a son who will take care of it for me, whenever I ask. (I love you, PJ!)