Thursday, January 31, 2008

Seams Like Trouble

I have a seamy quandary.

Tuesday night, I tackled the mattress stitch to attach my duster fronts to the back. Love mattress stitch! So satisfying.

Except on the left side of the duster, that is. Due to the duster construction, I thought I had a few too many rows in one section of the left front. So, I decided to rip out most of the front and reknit it correctly.

Of course, it turned out EXACTLY the same.

And then I realized I had just been holding it wrong before.

So, I finished seaming around 11:30 Tuesday night (partly my fault because I started at 9:00).

During class last night, I realized I was a bit unprepared because I hadn't researched how to attach the shoulder seams. The teacher showed me how to do the backstitch, but I'm not happy with the results.

If the teacher's side looks a bit unseamly (yeah, I'm not giving up on this pun), then my side looks like total warmed over crap.

Also, this is partly my fault. When I knit the back, I was left with 2 extra stitches on each shoulder. When this happened, I just shrugged it off. But now I belatedly realize that this affects how the shoulders look.

So, tonight I will be ripping out those shoulder seams and ripping back a few rows on the back to fix my mistake. And yes, this time it is a for-real mistake that I will fix.

I managed to pick up all of the stitches for the skirt last night. Now I just need to invest in a circular needle. My stupid Needlemaster cables join at wonky angles, making it unpleasant to knit large circular items. I'm okay with the 170+ stitches right now, but once I start increasing, it will be a pain.

I need a proper circular needle. *sigh*

But back to seams.

Any suggestions for shoulder seams?

Should I really use the backstitch?

Couldn't I just take out the bound off edges for the shoulders and do the kitchener with live stitches?? Or is that not allowed on sweater shoulders?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Holy Cow, Indeed

I'm running a bit behind today, as my dad called and talked for nearly an hour and the Tilted Duster sleeves are taking much longer to finish off. Why am I underestimating the time required to do sleeves?

Here are the sleeves this morning:

I finished one of them while having a very tasty chai at Mississippi Mud Coffee House. This was my first time at this coffee shop, and I really enjoyed it. I think they make their chai in-house instead of using pre-mixed concentrate, and they serve it with a little ginger cookie.

Before I left for the coffee shop, I had my new weekend breakfast:

Oatmeal made with soymilk, honey, nuts, and dried fruit.

Unfortunately, the soymilk has been concerning me. I'm a bit leery of the additives in soymilk, of supporting the big soy corporations (even if it's organic), and of the distance that soymilk is trucked (especially since it's refrigerated - unless you buy it in tetrapacks, that is).

So, since I wanted to stop at Local Harvest anyway to pick up a few things, I decided to check out their cow milk.

And, yes, I ended up buying a half-gallon of milk produced by Heartland Creamery.

I felt pretty good when I left...fairly local milk without growth hormone and packaged in a glass bottle that I could return.

Then I arrived home and decided to look at the dairy's website to make sure it really was local.
The blurb on the home page reassured me until I got to the last line...the line about how profits go to support their faith-based work with troubled adolescents and adults.

And then I realized that the "t" in Heartland is styled to look like a crucifix!

At this point, I wanted to return my milk, but I thought I should give them the benefit of the doubt. Not all faith-based work is creepy, after all.

So then I check out their ministry site, which was still a bit ambiguous. BUT, the links page includes a link to Focus on Family.

I am the complete opposite of Focus on Family, and I would rather my milk money not go to an organization that holds beliefs congruent to FoF.

So....I am going to drink the damn milk, but when I return my glass bottle, I will be sure to let Local Harvest know why I won't buy any more milk.

They could at least post a disclaimer by the milk.

And I guess I'll go back to my soymilk that's trucked in from far away. Why do food choices have to be so hard?!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

250 Worms, Please

Today has been a good day.

First, let me say that I stayed in my pajamas until 1:00. What, are you judging me because of that? You shouldn't because during that time, Porkchop and I ironed out the details (including most of the hotel reservations) of our trip in March. Over Porkchop's spring break, we're going to hit the road and go to Hesperus, CO, to visit one of my college roommates, then head over to Bryce and Zion National Parks, then hit the Grand Canyon's south rim, and then return to Albuquerque via Flagstaff and the Petrified Forest.

Yay for trips!

I also did lots of straightening and dish washing while in my pajamas. Also, I did my taxes last night...have you?

After Finally Putting on Real Clothes
I went out and bought 250 red wigglers!

This is a project I haven't written about because I didn't know if I could go through with it, but I'm happy to report that I'm now composting with worms! So awesome!

Porkchop is the one who initially researched vermiculture and convinced me that it would work. She also built a one-cubic-foot wormbin last weekend.

Here's the bin full of wet newspaper bedding and some dirt from my backyard:

Here are the worm containers:

I bought the worms at Paul's Bait and Tackle Shop on Chippewa. The owner and the other staff are really nice and are accustomed to people buying composting worms. Paul's Bait and Tackle is the only independently owned bait shop in St. Louis that still sells worm. It seems that Wal-Mart has taken over that market. So help Paul's shop stay in business for another 49 years and buy your worms there!

Here are the worms in their little containers:

And here are the worms in the bin!

I'll let you know how this works out! My only concern is that I need more worms and a bigger bin for all of the fruit and vegetable scraps that I produce (and tea bags...worms love tea bags).

After setting up the compost bin, I took my recycling to the center at Carondelet Park. I think I accidentally put some items that are considered cardboard in the paper bin. I hope I didn't ruin that whole batch of recyclables.

Food for Me
I gave Sappington Farmer's Market another chance this evening; I was still quite disappointed. The only Missouri-raised product that I could find was beef. They have a lot of Missouri grass-fed beef....which is great if you like beef. Not so great if you want Missouri squash.

So who knows from whence my acorn squash and yam came. I still bought them and roasted them and enjoyed them along with a porkchop.

I enjoy this combination of acorn squash and yams or sweet potatoes roasted with chili powder so much, it is obscene.

Hmmm....I didn't make as much progress as I anticipated this week. I only worked on my Tilted Duster on Monday and Wednesday night. For most of this week, I suffered from a twitchy right eye, so I thought I should rest it when I could...which meant no knitting.

I hope to finish the sleeves tomorrow morning. I'm done with the increase section and can now start the decreases.

Have a great Sunday!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Take a Trip?

I've been ogling this seed website for the past few days, and I feel kind of silly because I just realized that the company is located a mere 200 miles away in Mansfield.

I know where I want to go this weekend!

(I probably won't actually go, but it's nice to think about.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Share a Share?

Does anyone in the St. Louis area want to share a subscription to Fair Shares?

It sounds like it will be a great combined CSA, and we would need to sign up before March 1. Unfortunately, I can neither afford $50/week nor eat that much stuff in one week. So, let's share and alternate weeks!

Leave a comment if you're interested.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Back to Our Regular Programming

Porkchop is back in Albuquerque, and I'm back to watching Antiques Road Show on Monday nights. I love ARS, but I also love having Porkchop around.

The apartment is so quiet, save for the clock in the dining room and my downstairs neighbor's boyfriend hacking up a lung every so often.

I have nothing to do but knit and miss Porkchop.

This week, I predict I make tremendous progress on my Tilted Duster. Currently, I have the back, the two front sides, and a third of each sleeve done. I would post a picture, but it would be just a jumble of green woolly things.

After taking Porkchop to the airport (murrrr), I went to Hartford for a chai and knitting. Had I gone directly home, I would have cried for a long time. I know this because I did cry for a while upon my return from Hartford.

Anyway, to distract myself from tears, I cleaned the kitchen and then made pizza crust dough. Nothing like washing dishes and countertops and then dirtying them for another cleaning to busy oneself.

I ended up with this pizza:

Black beans, avocado, chicken, bell pepper, red onion, cheddar cheese, pizza sauce, and a bit of salsa.

And the best part is that I'll be able to whip up a pesto and sundried tomato pizza later this week using leftover dough.

Porkchop is having dinner with her buddy Patrick tonight. Even though the Packers lost last night, Porkchop and Patrick will surely find some humor in the black eye that Porkchop gave herself upon returning to ABQ. Seriously.

As a side note, I'm not the only one sad about Porkchop's departure. Here's Keetah saying, WTF? Who's going to pick me up and stroke my soft underbelly now?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

One Reason I Hate Time Magazine So Much

Nothing like a stupid article like this to start my morning off in an outraged mood.

Where does Time find such idiotic, asshat writers?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Guess What I'm Reading

You know I think about food a lot, right? Lately, my thoughts have been in overdrive...need to eat more locally produced things, I love oranges but the big bags aren't organic and they're shipped so many miles, I love bananas but they're big gas-wasters, this meat is probably laced with antibiotics, how can I learn to garden without reading anything or putting forth a lot of effort, are these potatoes organic...and so forth.

Last night, I dreamt that I was at a small farmer's market with only around 4 vendors. I made a point to buy something from everyone (which wasn't too difficult since there were only 4 stands), including bell peppers, some sort of pickled vegetables, tomatoes, and more bell peppers. When I arrived to my dream-home, I found eggplants everywhere - in drawers, in cabinets, on the countertop.

Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegatable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life is starting to overtake my brain.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Things to See Later

While looking around the Tamarind gallery this past fall, I saw these prints by Willie Cole, which I love and wish I could have (even with Porkchop's big discount, still expensive).

When I opened a piece of mail at work today, I was surprised to see one of Cole's sculpture installation pieces pictured on a postcard! It was an announcement for this show at my university's museum.

The show will also include things by Laylah Ali, whose work is pretty neat.

I've hung the show's postcard in my office with a big note to remember to go see it. You should too.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Doing Touristy Things

This has been a really busy month, as we're trying to pack in all sorts of things before Porkchop leaves on the 21st (sadness).
For example, last week, we attended the Blues - Stars games (courtesy of Porkchop's boss at the UPS Store).

Then, yesterday, we went on the Anheuser-Busch brewery tour. We were excited to see the Clydesdales and the really old brewery buildings.

And the Bevo Fox.

However, parts of the tour were a bit stinky (the mash cooking, I think).

After the tour, I sampled a Hard Knuckle stout (surprisingly similar to Guiness) and a Chelada, which is Busch's bid at the Latino market and is Budweiser, Clamato, salt, and lime. I thought the Chelada wasn't so bad until I read more about Clamato (tomato juice, reconstituted clam broth, high fructose corn syrup, and Red 40...yum). Hmmmm....don't think I'll have any more of that!

The hospitality room at the brewery served pretzels, but they were pre-packaged stuff. So, afterwards, we stopped at Gus' for a couple of sticks.

Friday afternoon, I picked up my yarn order from Knitty Couture - yay!

So, after the brewery and pretzels, I knit up a couple of gauge swatches.

I was eager to start the real knitting, but we had a wedding to go to last night. A co-worker of mine had her ceremony at the Jewel Box in Forest Park and the reception at the park's visitor's center. I'm not a big wedding fan, but this one was actually interesting and fun. The ceremony blended Jewish and Filipino traditions, and everything was so warm and genuine. The reception was totally entertaining - part way through the first dance thing, the bride and groom broke into a choreographed dance routine to Ice, Ice Baby, which was quite appropriate given that the bride is 6-months pregnant. [It seems that this choreographed routine thing is a new trend among young couples - I hadn't seen any clips on YouTube, so it was all new to me.]

Although we drank a bit of wine last night, we woke up quite early this morning and made our way to the World Bird Sanctuary. After checking out the eagles and owls and snakes, we stopped at Serendipity on the way back home. We both had sundaes - mine was hot fudge with cinnamon and coffee ice cream (yum!).

For lunch today, we had butternut squash soup and roasted broccoli - also yum!

And now Porkchop is baking chocolate chip cookies!

Well, I only have 4 inches done on my Tilted Duster, so I have to get back to that! Have a great Monday!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Yarn Impatience

The yarn for my Tilted Duster is still on its way.

Oh, the waiting!!

Ah well, I need to finish another Packers hat for Patrick, Porkchop's Tamarind buddy. It will be just like Porkchop's, only in reverse colors. And bigger. The way Porkchop tells it, Patrick's head is the most enormous thing ever.

I like the pattern I use for the earflap hats, but the size 13 needles kill my hands. Also, Cascade Lana Grande starts to feel like twine after a few rounds.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Ask and You Shall Receive

I've had the following two big food-related requests in my mind recently:
  • An artisan pizza place, a little bit like Racanelli's, but with more fresh and higher quality ingredients. Enter Sammy's Pizza, a joint project between two Racanelli brothers. If the bit in Sauce's Gossip page is true, it will be terrific.
  • A grocery store selling only Missouri products, preferably with a sustainable and organic focus. I love Local Harvest, but I've been wanting something a bit bigger. Again, according to Sauce's Gossip page, this too will come true as Sappington Farmers' Market has a new ownership structure which is all about the small Missouri farmer. I wasn't too keen on SFM before because there really wasn't much of a local focus, even though it was marketed that way.

Yay! I can't wait!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Imagine this with Buttons

The headigan - the correctly sized one - is nearly done. The only thing left is sewing buttons on the ribbed band.

It's an explosion of color, and I'm enjoying it very much.

Sometimes, like with this hat, I really love garter stitch.

Porkchop and I will leave for her parents' after my work tomorrow. We're off into the countryside with neither cell phone reception nor high-speed internet.

So...have a great Friday and a super weekend!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hello, 2008!

Well, no one (i.e., me) fell flat on her face today, so 2008 should be better than 2007. Rather than risk our lives by walking in the park, Porkchop and I stayed inside nearly all day. In the morning, I exercised and cleaned and put a corn chowder in the slow cooker while Porkchop watched football and hockey. In the afternoon, I knitted and read while Porkchop cleaned. It's a good trade-off.

A Little Knitting
Porkchop is working on a baby hat for her UPS Store manager. Knitting away:

This afternoon, needing to eat and perhaps go to the bathroom, but not wanting to stop knitting, Porkchop exclaimed, "I'm a slave to this knitting!" She fully understands now...the inability to stop at just another round or pattern repeat. Knitting is a drug and we are hopeless addicts.

I, on the other hand, am ready to throw my knitting out. Well, not really, but I'm a bit exasperated.

My finished headigan was WAY too big, and my gauge was even spot-on! What started out so neat and pretty became a mess at the end when my yarn ran out and I had to finish out the hat with odd bits and pieces of Manos del Uruguay and Malabrigo.

Ugh, a mismatched mess! Since it was way too big, I had no problem frogging the whole thing and starting over with eight stitches fewer per row.

By the end of the week, I need to finish my second Headigan (nearly one-third done already) and start and finish a Packers hat for Porkchop's buddy Patrick. I have this self-imposed deadline because the yarn for my Tilted Duster should arrive at Knitty Couture at the end of the week! Yay!!!

It was a tough decision, but I finally decided on Berroco Peruvia in Avocado. So many pretty colors! Yeah, I'm actually using the suggested yarn for the pattern because I don't want anything to screw up my first garment attempt.

A Bit of Reflection
And now, I need to pause for a bit of reflection on what 2008 might bring. This isn't just any ol' new year, it's the year that will mark my 30th birthday. And, seriously, I need to work on some things.

I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I do have some goals to fulfill. Such as the following:
  • Buy a house. I'm sick of apartments. Fortunately, my cigarette- and pot-smoking, loud-talking, door-banging downstairs landlady and her loud-and-constantly yawning and spitting boyfriend have kicked my need-to-buy-a-house ass into gear.
  • Cook at least one meal a week that uses only locally produced food items. This will be easier when I can grow my own little garden, which means I need a house.
  • Recommit to recycling at home. Since St. Louis doesn't have curbside recycling pick up for everyone, I've become lazy about recycling. This is my dirty little secret. Fortunately, when it's just me living here, I don't have much recycling waste. But, anyway, we bought a recycling receptacle yesterday, and I looked up the guidelines for the drop-off recycling locations. My biggest waste is vegetable and fruit matter. When I buy a house, I'll be able to start composting.
  • Replace current cleaning products with ecologically sound ones once current products are gone. The laundry detergent that I bought in September is nearly gone, and the Clorox cleaner that's been kicking around for the past year or so is running out, so I will make a trip to Home Eco soon (hey, buying ecologically sound products and a supporting a local business!).
  • Knit garments beyond hats and scarves and hand mitts. On my way with the Tilted Duster.
Obviously, I need to buy a house. This is my biggest goal.

Leftover Things
Before Christmas, we baked quite a few things. Cranberry-oat cereal bars, biscotti, magic bars, and chocolate-dipped pretzels.

Here's a pic of me with the biscotti (I'm using my favorite oven mitt ever):

And here's a shot of the pretzels:

The pretzels are super easy and fun. You just dip pretzel rods in melted chocolate chips and then sprinkle with toppings. This year, we used ground pistachios and peanuts and toffee bits.

Also super easy is magic bars. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture, but they are super yummy! Here's how to make them...

Melt 1 stick of butter in a 9x13 oven pan in a 350 F oven. While the butter is melting, crush graham crackers so that you have 1 cup of crumbs (methods of crushing crackers include using a rolling pin, a food processor, or putting the crackers in a ziploc bag and then stepping on whatever you want, but you need a very fine crumb). Once the butter is melted, mix the crumbs with the butter and spread the mixture evenly in the pan.

Pour one can of condensed milk evenly over the crumbs. Top with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and shredded coconut. You can use however much of each you want. For the chocolate and butterscotch chips, I usually use 6 oz. of each.

Put the pan back in the 350 F oven and cook for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. The stuff will firm up as it cools, and it usually doesn't reach optimal firmness until the second day.

Yum! The recipe came from the mother of one of my college roommates.

Okay, thanks for reading and have a happy 2008!