Monday, July 31, 2006

Arcadia Knitting Online

Arcadia Knitting: Meet the Bloggers
Monday, July 31, 7:00 pm
Arcadia Knitting and Chicagoland's knit bloggers invite you to get face to face with the people you read in cyber space. Match faces to the stories of knitting, ripping and the rush of making it happen. Included are Corinne Neissner of, Franklin Habit of The Panopticon and Lynette, Gail & Dee of The Island of Misfit Patterns and many more Chicagoland bloggers. Get a sneak peek of new yarns for this fall. Snacks and prizes too!

Something to think about

"A precious human life: Every day, think as you wake up today, today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it, I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts toward others, I am not going to get angry, or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can."

His Holiness Dalai-Lama

Saturday, July 29, 2006

What I'm making

I found a new designer today whose work I like. Her name is Miriam Felton, she designed the Icarus shawl in the current (Summer 2006) issue of Interweave Knits and she has some free patterns available here. I bought some Lorna's Laces Fisherman yarn in the Irving Park colorway for my OSSP exchange, from my favorite yarn store in Michigan, to knit into a bag of some sort for the August finished object mailing. I've been looking for just the right bag pattern that would call for a total of no-more-than 500 yards of worsted weight yarn, and still be practical enough for a high school English teacher and Mom, and be interesting for me to knit. I am going to make the Retro Wedge Felted Bag (.pdf). It involves short rows (woohoo!), and I'll learn two new things, the provisional cast-on and the welt.

There is the yarn on the swift, waiting to be wound into a ball. It looks so pretty, so full of possibilities.

And here it is fresh off the ballwinder, even closer to its future baginess.
And a cool little graphic-y doodad of a photo:

Whoa that was slow...

I have a very conscientious One Skein Secret Pal, who sends the packages the first week of the month in which they are supposed to arrive, as opposed to me who tends to send them in the third week. This time, however, she sent it with a postmark of July 6, and I didn't receive it until yesterday, July 28th. It was not coming from Korea, or Iran or Denmark... this package was coming for New York state. I'm not sure where it went on its way here, but it must have gone via Alaska or something.

Here's what was in my package:That is the package laid out in my kitchen. She sent a lovely card and the envelope was a sturdy Tyvek one with a yarn-themed mailing label. There is also a pattern printed out in color from MagKnits and slipped into a sheet protector as an appetizer.

The main course:This is a skein of RY Classicyarns Cashsoft Aran in shade 004. The fiber content is 57% extrafine merino, 33% microfiber, 10% cashmere. It is a lovely light blue color with a bit of shine. There are 95 yards in the 50 gram ball.

Then, there was a tube of lip gloss that is supposed to freshen breath. I haven't tested whether it does that, but from the strong taste, I believe the claims. Here is a blurry picture:
Do you see that cute yarn and needles graphic on there? Yes, I think its darling and fun.

Thanks secret pal! I love getting packages, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with for a completed item in August.

Keep Smiling! =)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Yup, a dork

I finally found a picture of myself, courtesy of Anne, cropped out the other person and the bright lights in the mirror, and posted it as a userpic on LJ and Blogger. And now I've posted about it in both places. Maybe I'll even go and take care of MySpace too.

Next up... taking pictures of things and then posting them. I need to make better friends with my camera, maybe it'll happen someday.

First thing though, when I am done with the computer, will be a nap to get rid of this beer-headache. I don't know what I had at the Cubs game today (Bob dba Scott was buying), but I have a crappy-beer headache. Too much heat as well? eh, at least the home team won!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Mystery Love

The second weekend in June is Brandeis Used Book Sale time here in Chicago. This was the last year for it (until another charity decided to continue it in the future) because the ladies who ran it are getting old and dying. Most of the paperbacks are $2 each, and they have mountains of them. I have been meaning to try a few different authors, and got one each from a few. This week, I have read two mysteries by new-to-me, quite prolific mystery writers, and enjoyed them both.

The first, suggested by Deidre from Spinning Guild and Knitting Guild, was Dick Francis, who writes horse-racing stories. The second, who I think counts David as a fan, was Robert B. Parker who writes the Spenser novels. I am sorry that I only have the one from each to read because they were quite enjoyable, quick little things. Perhaps I should explore the Chicago Public Library beyond the knitting books and the meeting room.

I will write up more about these later, perhaps, but for now, I'm hungry and its time for some lunch and sugary caffeine.

Keep Smiling! =)

vacuum love

I need to get my camera up and working (i.e. buy some new rechargeable batteries for it, and charge them) so that I can show you one of the most amazing area rug upkeep things ever.

If you have an "oriental" area rug with the requisite fringe in your home, you know how messed up it gets, like a kindergartener's ponytail when she won't let her mom brush it. Ick. and so unsightly. But, when vacuuming said rug, stand on the wood floor side of the fringe and run the vacuum across the fringe, pulling back towards you. The fringe will get sucked up, and as you pull straight back, it will be laid out on the floor all nice and neat. You have to pick up the vacuum to put it back on the rug for the next section of fringe, but it looks so nice that its totally worth the 3 minutes it takes to not be down on the floor with a comb or something to smooth it all out.

Another cleaning lady secret from my childhood figured out. Vacuum the fringe. Go try it... your living room will look nicer for it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A lazy meme

I haven't been posting much at all, but this one was taken from BabelBabe via a slew of folks. And I can do it during break. Enjoy

(grandfather/grandmother on your father's side, your favorite sweet/lolly):
Elva Dove Chocolate

(first initial of first name followed by 'izzle', first two or three letters of your last name followed by 'dizzle'):
Kizzle Kedizzle

(favorite color, favorite animal):
Blue Cat

(first 3 letters of your name- last 3 letters of mother's maiden name, first 3 letters of your pet's name repeated twice):
Katerr BaxBax

('The', your favorite color, the automobile you drive):
The Blue Altima


I have to write an Operation & Maintenance manual for a project at work, and some of the sections are downright silly. The "Theory of Operation" for scenery? It sits there, you look at it. Don't touch, its not your's, you are in a museum. Take that for your theory of operation.


A lady that I spin and knit with recommended Dick Francis mysteries for some good brain candy reading. She was absolutely right. I got one at the Brandeis Used Book Sale to try it out, and I read it in about 3 evenings (not long sittings). It was very satisfying, quick, and I totally didn't figure it out before the protagonist.

Now its back to writing that manual.

Keep Smiling! =)

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Favorite Summertime Recipes

I am not known for adventurous eating, or superb culinary skills, or even passable food prep kitchen capabilities, but I want to share two of my favorite recipes that I make quite willingly. These are written up as I make them, which cuts out as much food prep and grocery shopping savvy as possible, while still making it better for you than McDonalds. The frugal, kitchen-smart and gourmet-types can make it more complicated if you wish

First up is a fantastic salad-as-main-course that was originally inspired by a SuperTarget ad on the radio.

Katy's Yummy Target Salad for Dinner

  • Bag of lettuce*, 1/4 to 1/2 of a bag per person, I usually use 1/3 for myself as a meal
  • grape tomatos** I use 8 per person
  • mozzerella cheese, cut into bite-size chunks*** use lots if it is the only protein or about the same amount as you have chicken
  • Italian dressing, I like Kraft Light done Right Zesty Italian
  • Chicken, preferably rotisserie from the store, or breast cooked at home****, cut up or pulled off the carcass into bite size pieces, one breast per person
  • knife
  • cutting board
  • large bowl or plate
  • smaller bowls if you are making this for more than one person
  • George Foreman grill, if you are cooking the chicken yourself
  1. Cook chicken, if you need to do this step, get it started, then prep everything else and your chicken will be done
  2. Open bag of lettuce, check for freshness and fill tossing bowl or cover plate
  3. Rinse tomatos, cut up if you like them smaller
  4. Put tomatos in with the lettuce
  5. Cut up cheese, put on top of the tomatos and lettuce
  6. Cut up chicken, if you cooked it yourself, or pull the meat off the bone if it is a rotisserie chicken.
  7. Put chicken on top of cheese, tomatos and lettuce.
  8. Add salad dressing to taste.
  9. Toss if you feel the need. Be warned that everything is heavier than lettuce, so I find it preferable to make this salad up directly on the serving plate (fairly spread out) and skip the tossing. I have tossed this salad, and it works, but all the good stuff falls to the bottom.
  10. Eat!
*I like romaine-heavy mixes, preferably bought when they are buy-1-get-one-free at the store (which also means you have to eat a lot of salad quickly, since they don't put the freshest bags on sale)
**any tomatos will do, if you cut them up into bite size pieces. I discovered the yummy, bite-sized grape tomato on the original ad recipe, and I prefer them to all other tomatos I've tried in salads. If you cut them in half, they go farther and take up less fork space.
***original recipe calls for the mini balls of cheese, cut into half or quarters. I find that 8 oz balls of "fresh" mozz that are packed tight in thick plastic (so no cheese juice to spill) also bought b1g1free taste good, are less expensive and taste just as good
****I just got a George Foreman grill, and you guessed it, individually wrapped, frozen, prewashed, boneless, skinless chicken breasts are buy-1-get-1-free in gigantic boxes that will last me the rest of the summer.


Its not the 4th of July without Lemonade Ice Cream Pie. My mom will only make it once a year, and she says that it is because we wouldn't appreciate it as much if she made it all the time. She might be right, but I appreciate her chocolate chip cookies, chicken with pasta, banana goop and scrambled eggs, and she makes those all more than once a year. (thank goodness!) Due to that whole growing up, being an adult thing, I have spent very few 4th's with my Mom, so I've learned to make my own pie. This recipe is written to fill two store-bought pie crusts, as that's how I have to make it. WIC must only pay for full-size cans of lemonade concentrate or something because I have yet to see a city grocery store that carries the small cans, which is what is called for in the original recipe. Last year, I tried to make one pie by using half of the can of concentrate, but that is tough (not to mention sticky) to measure, and it is easier to just make two pies. The single pie was not lemon-y enough, so I made two pies later on in the summer, to demonstrate to my roommate how it was supposed to taste.

Mom's Lemonade Ice Cream Pie

  • 2 graham cracker pie crusts (you could make your own, but that is not something that I'm inclined to do in the summer, and then you need to turn on the oven. On a hot day? I don't think so)
  • 16 oz Cool Whip (Lite or Regular, it doesn't matter. A regular size container is 8 oz)
  • 1 box (half gallon) vanilla ice cream
  • 12 oz frozen Minute Maid lemonade concentrate (don't get the store brand. trust me on this one. All your flavor comes from the lemonade, so don't cheap out here)
  • Freezer
  • Counter (for thawing and mixing)
  • Rubber spatula (versus a metal spatula aka pancake turner if you are a home ec teacher) (don't use the spoon-spatula combos that they make in nice blue silicone these days. You want one that is flat and has a good combination of flexibility and strength. The spoons have too much scoop and not enough spread)
  • electric mixer
  • Your biggest mixing bowl. This gets sticky and has a lot of volume. Too big is not possible.
  • Large spoon
  1. Thaw the ice cream until it is soft. Thaw it some more. If you get impatient, and try to mix everything together when it isn't soft, you'll burn out your mixer. Ask my mom how I know this.
  2. Put the Cool Whip in the fridge while the ice cream is thawing. Then put it on the counter.
  3. Thaw the lemonade on the counter while you get everything else ready.
  4. Find all the mixer parts, assemble them and clear off some counter space near the outlet.
  5. Unwrap the pie crust, being sure to save the liner that becomes a lid.
  6. Scoop out about half the ice cream and half the Cool Whip into the mixing bowl. Mix these together with the electric mixer.
  7. Add the lemonade concentrate and the rest of the ice cream and Cool Whip. Mix everything together. Taste the filling. Isn't it divine?
  8. Resist eating the filling plain.
  9. Fill both pie crusts evenly, smooth the top with the spatula
  10. Using the liners as lids, cover the pies and put them in the freezer for a few hours.
  11. Lick all the bowls, beaters, spoons and spatulas. Enjoy the filling. Resist eating the very soft pie now.
  12. When the pies are frozen, cut into pieces and eat!
Enjoy this tangy sweet summer treat! I intended to eat both of these things today, as a meal, but I realized that I don't have a mixer and I'm short a package of Cool Whip. So my pie will have to wait until later this week.

Happy Independence Day!

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Knitting content

But first... where oh where is my roommate? I miss her...

I visited a new-to-me yarn shop this afternoon, Loopy Yarns in the South Loop area. In Chicago, my yarn store of choice is usually Arcadia Knitting owned by the Kelly Sisters, but Loopy is having a sale, and Judy Chan hangs out there on Friday nights, so I wanted to check it out.

I intended to get down to their location at 719 S. State Street via the CTA Red Line (get off at the Harrison stop), but could not find my CTA card anywhere in my apartment (I checked bags, pockets, shelves, drawers... nowhere was there a CTA card), so I decided to drive. Yes, I was that motivated to visit a yarn store. I really wanted to find something different-to-at-least-me for my One Skein Secret Pal, so I drove, totally forgetting that the Taste of Chicago was going on. I got myself a bit tangled up looking for a parking spot, discovered that there is a Target on Clark Street and eventually just parked in an automated $5 for 6 hours after 3pm ramp that was in the same block at the yarn store.

The shop was located between a "Got Pizza" and an Ace Hardware store, just like the website said. The front windows had yarn and projects on display and when I walked in, there was a table with some women sitting and knitting. I was given a moment to take the shop in before I was warmly greeted by a woman who worked there. She explained how the sale worked and then let me be to look around. In the back of the store was another employee (or the owner?) teaching a woman how to knit. I think that she was re-learning after a long hiatus.

Later on, while I was wandering aimlessly, the first woman asked if I needed help, and I told her that I was looking for something for my One Skein Secret Pal. I got her a skein of sock yarn (Mountian Colors Bearfoot from Coldwater in Excelsior) last time, and I wanted to go for something a bit thicker, but still with decent yardage, this time around. (oh, and it had to be unique... I'm not just going to send off a skein of Cascade 220) The saleswoman showed me a section of the yarn cubbies that fit the bill quite well. One of the yarns that was on sale had too much bumpy texture for me to want to send it, another wasn't very soft (apparently, it sells well on the east coast, but not as well in Chicago/the Midwest) and finally, the one I chose was a thick-and-thin, multi-color merino wood. It is very soft and came in a 200gram/215 yard hank. This skein of yarn could make a hat, a short or skinny scarf or be felted into a bag without any additions, and most importantly, it will look exciting and enticing in the package.

I looked at the needles and notions and got a 40" cord for my Denise set which should make Magic Loop easier (and thus hats), but the rest of the notions were uninspiring. The straight and double pointed needles were all stored in a card catalog-type cabinet, which is unusual, and definitely saves on the display space, but means that I have no idea what the carry in that area, since I didn't look in the drawers. The woman in front of me in line bought a pair of Pyrex needles, so there must be something interesting in those drawers.

The yarn selection was well displayed in "wooden" cubes (probably laminate on particleboard), which is a nice step up from the oh-so-popular wire mesh cubes (which have their advantages) and definitely more to my liking than the on-a-shelf methodology of Arcadia. There were some items in baskets, and the Manos de Uraguay was hung on hooks at the back wall of the display area. It was definitely not the yarn that I am used to seeing in the LYS (local yarn store)... there was a lot of acrylic content. Suss yarns, which looks very fancy and is priced as such, had a shocking amount of acrylic. There was Cascade 220 Superwash (a rarity) but no other Cascade yarns that I noticed. There was a fair bit of Norwegian yarn, both superwash and not, but no Dale of Norway that I noticed. There is some "Smart" yarn that is a superwash wool and is on sale. They seemed to be well-stocked with the Lorna's Laces, but it was not all displayed together, so I didn't realize it at first. There was a line of lace weight (or maybe even cobweb) yarns that were put up in wonderful centerpull balls. I tried to memorize the website on the label to take a look at the company further, but I forgot it by the time I got home, and it isn't listed on the shop's website. Overall, I never quite figured out the logic of the organization, but I'm sure that it was there.

I hear that the Friday night knitting is lots of fun at Loopy and that the girls there go out to the bar afterwards (much like the Toronto knitters), and the sale is going on through the end of the month, so I expect that I'll be back, if I can find my CTA card. The people were nice, they have yarn and the pattern selection (in binders and books) looked to be extensive. Oh, and they wrapped each of my purchases up in light blue tissue paper and then tucked them into lovely red shopping bags. That is almost better than getting something wrapped at Borders or Barnes & Noble for free, even when it is just for me.

Keep Smiling! =) I'm going back to my knitting

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Its that time of year

I held out all through June, managing to get out of town for the two worst weekends, but today, on July 1, around 4pm, I gave in and installed an air conditioner. Last year, we had the a/c set up in the first or second week of June, and ran it through September. This summer in Chicago has been having major ups and downs in temperature, but its just so hot and muggy today that I did it. All by myself.

The curtain is up between the dining room and the hallway, and the cooling unit is chugging away. Last summer the a/c raised our electric bill by about $10 or less per person, and we had a unit in both bedrooms and in the living room. So far, I haven't put in the one in my room, but that is mostly because it is too messy to get to the window or deal with the cords.

I will be trying to post more often, I think of things all the time that would be neat to write up, but then I forget, or just don't get to it.

Stay cool!