Monday, December 31, 2007

Charlie Wilson's War

Hubby and I saw "Charlie Wilson's War" on Sunday afternoon. Now, I have to admit that I have been over Tom Hanks for quite a while. Not that I think he's a bad actor, but for a long time, he was just everywhere. It got tiresome. But after seeing Charlie Wilson's War, Ole Tom is my man again. It was a wonderful film! I have to admit, the idea of the movie kind of made me uncomfortable......knowing that the ouster of the Soviet army from Afghanistan opened the door for the repressive Taliban regieme, that eventually led to Osama Bin Laden and 9/11. But I think they did a good job of addressing that in the end of the movie (and in subtle places throughout, foreshadowing how things could go really bad, if things didn't go just right in Afghanistan). And Phillip Seymour Hoffman, oh my gosh! He is a hoot! I've seen him in other things - he's been a character actor for a while - but he stands out in this one, and stands up against Hanks' acting well. He definitely doesn't get bulldozed in his scenes with a three time Oscar winner.

What really irritates me is that I had a copy of the book the movie was based on a while back, and I gave it away in a book-clearing frenzy. Now I have to get another copy. There is lots more to this story, and I want to find out. Go ahead....see the movie. But, READ the BOOK!

Friday, December 28, 2007

In Answer to Your Questions............

Linda, over at All & Sundry posted a list of end of year questions, that I thought I'd answer. Well as many of them as I can. Honestly, some of the questions are just to clever for me to answer at the end of the year. But here, goes..... (my answers are in Italics)

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?
 We took a family road trip to San Diego for a baseball tournament in July. I-5 through the San Joaquin Valley is probably the most misrable stretch of road in North America.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
 In short, oh hell no! I would like to make a resolution for 2008, but my track record for keeping them is pretty dismal.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
 Nope, we're all too old for that. And I'm too young for grandkids (did you hear that boys??)

4. Did anyone close to you die?
 My sister-in-law died after a long battle with liver cancer. We were never particularly close, but I feel that I should have been closer.

5. What countries did you visit?
 Does San Diego count as a country?

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
 More time for my attempts at writing

7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Memorial Day weekend 2007 - see question #10 for the why. Pain sticks with me.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
 Starting this blog.

9. What was your biggest failure?
 Not sitting down and spending time writing more. I have a long term goal of going back to school for my MFA in Creative Writing in the next few years, but I have to actually spend time writing for that to be a realistic goal

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
 I received a lovely compression laceration that required three stitches and bruised by leg from knee to ankle over Memorial Day weekend. I now have a beautiful scar on my shin. Did I mention that I scar easily?

11. What was the best thing you bought?
 My new car, an Infinity FX35.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
 All three of my sons. They are all growing into wonderful men. Especially the youngest, who is showing glimpses of being really concerned about the world around him. He is finally passing through that "it's all about ME" stage.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
 My husband's brothers (both of them)

14. Where did most of your money go?
 Besides books and yarn? With regard to disposable income, likely sports stuff for the kids.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
 The really large tax refund I just learned we may get for 07.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?
 "I'm with the Band" by Little Big Town

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
 a) happier or sadder? 
b) thinner or fatter? 
c) richer or poorer?
 a) likely happier; b) definitely fatter, unfortunately; c) about the same income wise.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
 Write and Knit, and Exercise

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How did you spend Christmas?
 At home with family, the extended family came to my house and my SIL and I shared holiday dinner responsibilities. It worked out great!

21. Did you fall in love in 2007?
 Only with my hubby all over again.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
 Doctor Who and Torchwood (sorry, I'm a British SciFi geek)

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
 Do George Bush and Hilary Clinton count? Wait a minute, I hated them last year, too!

24. What was the best book you read?
 The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver and Priscilla Warner. Makes me look at religious differences in a whole new light.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Nuttin' But Stringz

26. What did you want and get?
 A down pillow! Yummy!

27. What did you want and not get?
 A spinning wheel and latin dance lessons

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
 The Bourne Ultimatum or Elizabeth: The Golden Years

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
 Not much on the birthDAY itself. Just went out to dinner. But I got concert tickets for Little Big Town and Sugarland in Reno for my b-day, so a couple weeks later, we flew to Reno for the weekend and saw the concert. Reno really isn't an exciting town, but it was still a fun weekend.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
 If I had the willpower to lose weight.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?
 If it involves jeans and a pair of boots, it's me!

32. What kept you sane?
 Knitting and Prozac

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
 David Tennant of Doctor Who

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
 Barak Obama getting into the presidential race. Yay!!

35. Who did you miss?
 Most likely my oldest son, away at college. He's fun to talk to.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
 New people? What are those? I met a new group of people at the end of the year - The Eastside Stitchers - a knitting group I am hoping to become more involved with. All lovely, giving people.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007.
 Sometimes I have to take control, even if it doesn't make other people happy at the moment.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Somebody's got to be unafraid to lead the freak parade

Somebody's got to be unafraid to lead the freak parade

Somebody's got to be unafraid to lead the freak parade

To lead the freak, to lead the freak, to lead the freak parade

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This, gentle audience, (all ONE of you!) is my final Xmas knitting assignment of 2007. Completed BEFORE Christmas! Ta-Da!! A right and proper Christmas stocking for my youngest son. Just mere days before his first Christmas, ten years ago, I had a little epiphany. It went something like this...."CRAP!! I don't have a stocking made for the Baby!" So a trip to the fabric store followed and a rather sad excuse for a stocking was created. Face it, there is only so much you can do with red felt, fabric paint, and no sleep. I have promised myself every year since then that I would make him a "proper" stocking. His brothers have cross-stitched stockings lovingly made by their mother when I was less harried and not nearly as insane as I am now. When I took up knitting about 5 or 6 years ago, I decided I would knit him one, rather than cross-stitch. Don't get me wrong, cross-stitch is fine, but I'm a Knitter-grrl these days. Still, it took me all this time to get a stocking knitted for him. That included a couple of false starts. Especially the false start I had that prompted me to visit Cultured Purls for a little knit-assistance. I spent four hours last Wednesday getting myself straightened out on how to resume the argyle pattern on the sock, only to decide on the drive home, to rip out the entire heel, and just make an afterthought heel. As a result of this decision, I had the whole thing completed by Friday morning. Then blocking and sewing in a lining and Voila! A completed stocking. The only problem now.......the other boys noticed that #3's stocking is LARGER than theirs!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Holiday Madness is about to ensue around here.......So I thought I would entertain you all with my youngest's holiday handicraft. A new star for our Christmas Tree.
Have yourselves a MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Almost to the end of the F.O. Trail

Behold, the third and final fair isle hat for my nephews. All in their school colors. Now the clock is running on my fifth Xmas knitting project, the Argyle Stocking for my youngest. Made wonderful progress Wednesday. Did the entire leg, heel flap, heel turn and the picked up stitches. Then I got stuck! I had appointments all thursday and didn't get to my knitting guru. So first thing Friday, a trip to Cultured Purls for wisdom from Shannon, my personal knitting Goddess. She helped me figure out what was wrong (one was me, the other was the pattern), and got me started again (Thanks Shannon!). But on the way home, I got thinking - always a dangerous And I decided that it would be easier and hopefully faster, if I did an Afterthought heel instead of a heel flap. So I ripped our the picked up stitches, the heel turn, the heel flap; put in some waste yarn and started in on the pattern again and am working down the foot. Only 12 more rows of pattern to go before the toe decreases; then I add the heel, and I'm done. I still may get there. Pray to the Knitting Goddesses for me!

And when I haven't been knitting, I have been making Lefse! A lovely result.....SEE

But Lordy what a mess! I am still cleaning flour off my countertops. And for some reason, it has hardened into concrete!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Three Down, Two to Go!

Finished Xmas Knitting Object, the Third. Socks for #3 son's 5th grade teacher. Pattern: my own wing it top-down Garter Rib pattern. Yarn: Trekking XXL ombre color #66 (blues, to dark green, purple, reds - in a manly-man combination). Needle: US #1, cast on 72 stitches. The best part of all.....finished THREE days before my deadline.

Now, one more hat for nephew #3 and a new Xmas stocking for #3 son. I was going to try to make it a surprise for him, but then I just decided to tell him, so I didn't have to sneak around knitting. I think I may make it!

#1 son is home from college for the holidays, so now I have someone to talk politics, religion and other BS with. He's fun. He's old enough to have opinions, and valid ideas to back them up.

He also helps me find wacko things on Youtube. Like this:

Keep in mind, I don't really like the lyrics of the Crank That song, and Travis Barker is a bit extreme for me. But he does have to be one of the most phenominal drummers in the world. And I do like me some first class drummers!

Well, today, I am making Lefse for a classroom party. Pics tomorrow, if it doesn't come out like crap (please God, don't let it come out crappy - I got Lefse lovin' kids counting on me!) What, pray tell, is Lefse? Well, Swedish Tortillas, Swedish Naan, Swedish Pita. Go with the ethnic reference you are most comfortable with. Or look here: Lefse Sounds weird, tastes wonderful.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Doing the Martha Stewart Thing

Here is my Holiday present for you all. I love making hot cocoa mix and homemade marshmallows for the Holidays. The below is the recipes I use. Make a bunch, package it up and give it away with cute mugs you pick up on clearance. Everyone will think you are so clever!


3/4 cups powdered milk
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

Mix the above ingredients together and seal in an airtight container until ready to use. You can use it in a ratio of 1/2 cup mix to 1 cup water - OR - 1/4 cup mix to 1 cup milk. Warm up the water/milk, place the mix in, stir thoroughly, until the little chocolate bits melt and everything is blended together.


* I use Trader Joe's 72% bittersweet chocolate Pounder Plus bars for the chocolate. They are fairly inexpensive and is really good quality chocolate. And you can easily make a quadruple batch from one bar.

** I always quadruple the recipe when I make it. You can go through this fast during a cold snap.


2-1/2 TBSP unflavored gelatin
1 cup water, divided, plus 1 TBSP
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract (the REAL stuff!)

NOTE: I use 12-1/4 x 8-1/4 in aluminum pans you buy at the grocery store (the kinds of pans with clear plastic lids) to make the marshmallows. They end up being just the right size for a big fluffy marshmallow. I suppose if you want smaller marshmallows, use a larger pan, so you need to spread out the marshmallow mixture thinner and then cut them smaller.

Lightly coat the pan with cooking and dust with powdered sugar; then set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the gelatin and 1/2 cup of the water. Let stand 25 minutes.

At the same time, in a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, over low to medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Increase hit to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce to heat to medium and boil at a moderate rate, stirring frequently until the thermometer registers 244 degrees Fahrenheit - about 15 minutes. MAKE SURE THE MIXTURE DOES NOT BOIL OVER OR BURN.

I use a instant read thermometer to watch the temperature. A candy thermometer will work, too. DO NOT USE A MEAT THERMOMETER - THEY ARE NOT ACCURATE ENOUGH.

Place the bowl with the gelatin on the stand of the mixer, with the whisk attachment (you MUST have a stand mixer for this - if you don't have one, don't bother). Turn it on to low and gradually pour the hot sugar syrup into the gelatin, add the vanilla and the final 1 TBSP of water. Increase the speed on the mixture to high and beat at high speed and beat 15 minutes. In the end, the mixture should be white, thick and look like, well.....Marshmallows!

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Dampen your hands and press the marshmallow mixture into the pan until it is pretty well, smoothed out (it doesn't need to be perfect).

Let sit overnight, and then remove from the pan and cut into marshmallow-sized pieces and roll in powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container.

NOTE: You need a heavy duty mixer to make marshmallows. I have one of the original (40 years-old plus) Kitchenaid stand mixer (I inherited it from one of my great-aunts), and after 15 minutes of mixing the marshmallows, my mixer head is pretty hot and needs a serious rest. If you have a portable mixer, I would call that annoying friend with all the expensive kitchen gadets and ask to borrow her Kitchenaid.

Have fun!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's Official, I'm Going to Hell!

So, I wandered into one of my favorite LYS's, just to pick up a set of size 6
DPNs, mind you........walked in the door and headed to the sock yarn section (as is my habit - I love sock yarn). And what was just sitting in the little cubicle next to the sock yarn.........MALABRIGO LACE WEIGHT! I looked, I touched.......I caved! Two skeins of lovely lavender Malabrigo followed me home.

Otto (the Emo dog) wanted to show his gloomy face in the picture.
I am truly going to hell. Krisdutch, they have rehab for this stuff, right? Now, if I can keep my hands off of it until after the holiday knitting is done!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

This is the Week that Was

Ah, Sunday evening........ Company Holiday party, a pleasant memory (I planned and executed a party for 200, without a hitch and under budget!!). The day AFTER the party, when I slept all day, also a memory (country dancin' can wear a girl out!) And the piece de resistance...........all of my Christmas shopping is done!!! And it's only December 9. I decided to cyber-shop this year, mostly because I hate going to the mall on regular days, and I especially hate going to the malls during the holidays. I don't like the noise, the crowds, the impossible parking situation and the poor retail clerks trying to be cheery when the cheery holiday shoppers are treating them like shit. (if I do go to a store during the holidays, I try to be genuinely kind to the folks working retail - it is an especially thankless job during the holidays)

OK, honestly, I did go to Barnes and Noble for a few filler books, and I need to go to my favorite soap shop, Island Soap and Candle, for some lovely soaps (sorry, their website really isn't up to snuff, but their stuff is great). I plan to do that early tomorrow, and get that out of the way. Then, some stocking stuffers, and I am finished!

The Xmas tree is purchased (yet currently undecorated), and hubby and #2 son got the outside lights and the inflatable santa up outside yesterday.

Now, if I can actually get my Christmas cards out this year...........

Monday, December 03, 2007

Here then Gone!

<<<<<<This was my house on Saturday

This was my house on Sunday>>>>>>

This my friends is December in Washington State. Don't like the weather? Wait 20 minutes, it will change. We had a windstorm last December that knocked the power out to almost all the western half of the state for up to 10 days in some areas. We've gotten a little weird about unpredictable weather these days.

This was suburban flooding in a neighboring town today.

Krisdutch offered up a PIF opportunity the other day, and I bit. Kris is going to send me a special handmade gift, but I have to now "Pay Forward" her generosity to three other people. I have to PIF in the next 365 days, and so would you. The first three people who leave a comment, will get a handmade something from me within the next 365 days.......not before Christmas - I gar-un-tee! So, let me know you're reading this, and I will send you something fun. Remember, you have to be willing to share, too.

Two more holiday knitting projects have snuck into my knitting queue, and I have no idea how they got there..........Oh yeah, now I remember, I think there are 48 hours in each day, and I have not one thing to do!

Now the list stands like this, three fairisle hats (two done), two pairs of socks (one may be going away), a new Xmas stocking for #3 son, a beanie for hubby, AND a knitted Santa hat for #3 son. This last one got dumped on me Sunday afternoon, and #3 has been a huge pain in the arse about it ever since. "Are you done yet?" "Are you done yet?" He forgets I have the last minute details for a 200+ person Holiday party to take care of before Wednesday. But hey...he NEEDS that had for the party on Wednesday! Everything else can go to hell in a handbasket, as long as his hat gets done!

What am I doing blogging? I have a Santa hat to knit!