Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas, in case I don’t post tomorrow!

As one might infer, we ate a bunch of pasties last week – lunch and breakfast for me every day, except for Tuesday, when I went with a co-worker (as opposed to a cow-irker) to a meeting in Springfield. Should have taken a pasty, the McRib clone at our HQ building was eminently forgettable.

On the printing front, I finished up the snow maiden holiday cards on Saturday:

Blue & Gray Holiday Card.jpg

 The “Happy Holidays” text is in my 18-point Parsons, on the inside of the card.

Doing these, we discovered an issue with cheap cardstock. Using Neenah Pape 110# Astrobright stock (which I think I previously mentioned is much thinner than French Paper Co. 110# Smart White cardstock), we get bleed-through of ink. It doesn’t show up right away, and didn’t photograph very well, but it is there.

Not being one to delay holiday preparations, I distributed some of the cards around the office, which is very de-populated, today.

Ron’s also been printing, he’s made calling cards for Xaplet Major, and proof prints of our various fonts.

Last night I sorted out another of the pied fonts. IIRC that leaves one that will probably get sorted, and the big pile of at least two itty-bitty (guessing 6-point) fonts that may not ever get sorted.

I think I mentioned previously that we want/need a bigger font for cards, etc., than the Parsons. Well, on eBay the other day I discovered someone selling new sets of Uhlen Rundotisch:



I have lust. Its fancy, without being too fancy over-the-top. But we weren’t sure about the size – was 30-pt going to be too big.

Sunday morning, we had a knock-down drag-out fight with Adobe InDesign Creative Cloud (yes, we went with the CC subscription model about a year ago, because it was about the only way to upgrade one or more pieces of the software suite to get upgrades we wanted.), and dis-satisfaction with Adobe’s on-line chat support (you need real tech support, call back on a weekday), I gave up and printed out some sample text in Pages, Apples word processor:


 As you can read from the text on white paper, it isn’t Uhlen Rundgotisch, but it is close enough for the purpose. My test electronic font has slightly fancier capitals and LC zed, but they’re clearly related.

The initial thought was that 30-point would be too big for calling cards. The blue paper is cut to modern business card size (2″ x 3.5″). Yeah, you can use it on cards, you just aren’t going to put a lot else on there. Also, Victorian calling cards varied in size. The pink paper is a quarter-sheet (5.5″ x 4.25″), which is the size of the Christmas cards I’ve done. 30-pt is a nice size for that. I think I’m going to buy it Friday. And also spaces, because it doesn’t come with any.

Uhlans are/were cavalry, originally Polish, usually armed with lances. That style of typeface is often referred to as “gothic”, and the bits of German I have floating around my head are gotisch=gothic and rund=round, so I think Uhlen Rundgotisch could be translated as Polish Round Gothic. Because I’m geeky in that strange way.

Do you detect a hint of 1930-40’s Germany in that font? Yeah, me too. And in poking around, I discovered that the Germany had a whole “Antiqua-Fraktur dispute” in the 19th and 20th Centuries, which the Nazis decided by fiat. Yes, as I said, I’m a word nerd. But in any case, it isn’t the poor font’s fault, and it isn’t as, um, loaded as a swastika. If you can feel sorry for a symbol, there’s a prime candidate. Kipling used to use it on his bookplates and it was on the covers of many of his books, but that ended with the rise of National Socialism.

Which reminds me, Robin is taking German next semester. Should be interesting, I had two years in high school, Ron had some in college. So maybe we’ll all (re-) learn. I can fairly quickly get to the point where I can can read German again, with a little help from a dictionary, but other than very basic stuff, my spoken is hopeless. But I watch movies with spoken German (usually WWII movies) and it always bugs me because I feel like I *should* be able to understand it.

Moving on to food-ish things, I made a batch of scotch eggs (baked) for lunch on Sunday, which we finished off for breakfast yesterday.

Dinner tonight is potato sausage and mashed rutabaga (an Ohman family Christmas Eve tradition), and tomorrow we’re having beef tenderloin. And probably mashed potatoes, because its Christmas, dammit, I’m having spuds.

Need to stop at PetWhatever on the way home tonight, hopefully they’ll be open, and get something for the dogs. I don’t love them enough to share the good beef, and I don’t think we have any more shank bones in the freezer.

Ron and Robin are home today. I wanted to take half or all of today off, but I ended up taking time off to deal with the car instead. But I think I earned some comp time going to Springfield last week (we didn’t get back to the office until 8 pm), so I might take part of New Year’s Eve off. Or not, since Ron has to work, too. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they get turned loose early anyway. So I’m waffling.

Anyhow, Ron did finally get InDesign working on Sunday. Keeping our fingers crossed that it really is fixed-fixed, and not just temporary good behavior.

On Saturday he made sure all the blocks we’ve bought were in his spreadsheet (got a bunch in the mail Friday evening), and numbered them all. We tried test-printing some of the larger ones, which led us to the conclusion that we need stronger roller springs on my press and/or to do some other adjustments.

Saturday morning, before we were started playing with letterpress, we went out shopping for woodworking. Robin is making us some trays to store wood furniture and borders, and some for himself for miniatures. We were debating how to do the joints in the sides. We weren’t sure the nice (and expensive) router bit that would do thin finger joints would work in our current router table, and a new table to use with the router that the bit would fit in was out of the budget, so we decided to go with a simpler joint, which I think he’s cutting today.

Robin found lumber to rip down for the sides in the stash, so all we had to buy were brads, a brad driver, and masonite for the bottoms. Ron and Robin cut the bottoms Sunday, and Robin cut the sides (many sides) yesterday.  I was thinking of paying Robin in enough lumber to build his trays, but since he found the lumber for the sides, looks like it’ll be cash or credit at the Bank of Mom.

Robin put the Christmas tree up Saturday morning, which led to a trip to Ace for lights. Apparently we got rid of the lights last year. That actually worked out fine, as all Christmas stuff was 40% off, and they still had plenty of strings of white LED lights. Robin also got some trees (meant for train layout/lighted village setups) for miniature wargaming, since he’s fine with flocked pine-ish things.

Last week, maybe a week and a half ago, I finished my mostly-black socks that I did the gusset increases and heels twice on. They’re still too tight. I’m not sure if I’m keeping them or giving them as Christmas presents to somebody with slightly smaller feet. Started another pair in Socks That Rock Mediumweight, this time I’m doing a less fussy/fitted foot, and using a basic toe-up gusset/heel, that fits fine in STR lightweight in my red/flame socks. I’m about ready to turn the heels on those, but realized that I should have been working on Christmas knitting instead.

Friday night or Saturday morning I started a pair of mittens for somebody for Christmas. I’ve finished the cuffs and am about halfway up the palms (working cuff-up this time). No pictures yet. Hopefully I can finish them tomorrow. I also dug out the wave mittens I made earlier this year, and I just got my brother and sister’s addresses.

Yeah, I’m a little slow on that whole Christmas-prep thing.

Staying home tomorrow, since I only have the one day off, and traffic, dogs, possibly weather, and too many years of going too many places on Christmas day, yadda yadda yadda. Not sure if we’ll be knitting, printing, something else, or a little of everything.

Tired of Being Tired. But not of Knitting

I am tired of being tired. Being tired in the afternoon/evening/by bedtime is not so bad. Waking up tired, even after sleeping in and not actually being sleepy, is depressing.  Getting up at the normal time and going to work tired is no fun.

Saturday I switched from the prescription pain meds with hydrocodone to straight (liquid) tylenol. So at least I don’t have the hydrocodone making me sleepy on top of being tired. Usually more stiff than sore.

Back to work as of yesterday, although I bailed about an hour early. Leaving a little earlier than that today for a follow-up with the surgeon (or his staff, whatever). The bandage over my belly button *will* be coming off today, dammit. Itchy under it. Lost three of my 8 steri-strips, I kinda expect the others to get peeled off at today’s appointment.

I have spectacular bruises on my tummy from the blood thinner injections, the last of which was Saturday morning. They don’t hurt, but they’re vivid.

Saturday afternoon Pippin took a nap. On my lap. I had my feet up on the footstool Robin made me earlier this year, so we were both pretty comfortable. I still need to put padding and a leather cover on the footstool, but for now a pillow is working fine.

I started a pair of socks just before surgery that I finished Friday night/Saturday morning. I’d meant to make them for myself, but I didn’t make them the right size. But they fit Ron’s Mom, who we saw on Saturday, so now they’re hers. Those were out of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Mediumweight, in a “Rare Gems Mill Ends” (ie: non-standard color), which I picked up at stitches. Root root root . . .the right-most skein in this picture.


Last night I finished a pair of socks, out of the Marine Silk Fingering which is the second one from the left in the picture. Its 51% Silk, 29% Merino, and 20% Sea Cell Rayon, very soft and silky and slippery. The color name is “Vintage”, which doesn’t seem to be one they’re dyeing currently.  The socks are a Christmas present.

After finishing those socks I started another pair, hopefully for myself, out of STR mediumweight, in “Blackbird”.

Not that I need more yarn, but I had a not-quite-accident at Blue Moon Fiber Arts. I got “Gail’s Autumn Joy”, “Ghoulash”, “Go Beavs!!”, “Oaks Bottom”, and “Rumplestiltskein” in Socks That Rock. Yeah, I’m having an autumn colors fit. 4 of the 5 are mediumweight, I forget if it was “Gail’s Autumn Joy” or “Rumplestiltskein” I got in lightweight.

Naptime yet?

I’m Back

So, that was the last couple weeks.

Surgery was a week ago today. I took Thursday of last week off for the clear liquid diet and other surgery prep that was more comfortable at home.

Surgery was initially scheduled for 12:30. About mid-day Thursday the hospital called and moved me up to 9-ish – a change in exact time was expected, and earlier was fine with me, less time to wait. Then later in the afternoon they called again, back to noon. (with arrival times 2 hours pre-surgery). Ok, whatever.

About 7:00 Friday morning, while Ron was out getting breakfast and I was packing up my CPAP and change of clothes, the phone rang. My gut said it was the hospital again. It was. Could I be there at 8:00?  Yeah, I can. Fortunately, Ron was about a block away, so we finished packing up and off we went.

Blah blah blah surgery prep. What do they do with your arms during surgery? I wondered, as gurneys are narrow and if they’re operating on my abdomen, my arms can’t be on my tummy. Good question (and the operating table is even narrower) – they go straight out to either side. I remember getting onto the operating table, getting my left arm (with IV) on the extension, and I have a vague memory of doing something with my right arm, and that’s all she wrote.

Then I woke up really really sore and nauseous. Laproscopic abdominal surgery means your whole abdomen gets inflated, which makes your chest and shoulders sore. Eventually better living through chemistry helped, and they moved me up to a room, IIRC about 2:30. Pain makes me nauseous, so pretty much the rest of my Friday was napping, feeling queasy, and playing with the hospital bed trying to get comfortable. With the bonus excitement of having to stand (and not barf) for an Upper GI X-ray/CT scan/Whatever it is. Thank Ghu the radiologist was fast. The nurses would have liked me to get up to walk Friday evening, but going to the bathroom and back was the best I managed (being flattish helped the nausea).

Sleep, hah. My CPAP thinks I got at least 4 hours Friday night, it must have been in tiny chunks. About 5 am Saturday I got disconnected (IV  from power outlet, my calves from anti-clot massagers) enough go to the bathroom, and did go for a walk.

Ron came back. Mid-late morning I made the switch from injected to oral pain meds. Robin came for a visit. I had a bunch more mini-naps. Late afternoon I finally got sent home (I think my nurse actually delayed a bit at the end so she could get me a dose of pain meds just before going, giving us time to get the Rx filled).

Ron dropped me off at home, and went out in search of my prescribed liquid pain meds (basically vicodin syrup, aka the red heavy-duty cough syrup without cough supressant). Fortunately, the Walgreen’s he tried (after our usual CVS failed) had it, and the pharmacist stayed late to fill it. Which reminds me, I owe the store a thank-you note.

Saturday night was a bit better for sleep, but not much. Sunday night we got it set up so I could reach my CPAP controls myself, and just plain healing made it easier to move and sleep.

Every day gets slightly better. Tapering off the pain meds during the day, which is the nice thing about liquids. Today is the last day of liquid diet, tomorrow starts “week 2”, which is a slightly thicker diet, then another week of still squishy. Yeah, getting tired of drinking mostly everything (Jello at VS – woo!), but at least since the surgery I’ve got more flavor choices. And starting tomorrow I can have mashed potatoes among my mostly-thickish liquids.

My stomach looks like a war zone. 8 various small holes with steri-strips (fiber packing tape for people), one larger bandage over my belly button, several sets of staple holes, and an array of bruises. Lap-band and fill port installation, hiatal hernia repair (should reduce reflux problems), umbilical hernia repair, bruises around most of the incisions plus extras from some of the blood thinner injections, which were every 12 hours in the hospital, once a day at home, last one tomorrow, yay.  Ron says its much easier to do on me than it was to do them to himself. I had to do one myself, I can believe it.

Pippin and Elrond are going to be sad next week when I go back to work. I can’t say I’m thrilled either, but I think physically I’ll be ready. Although waking up still tired is no fun, its getting better – I’m not waking up nearly as sore, at least.

Been knitting a lot. Coloring/playing with markers requires more leaning forward, knitting I can lean back on the couch. Yesterday I finally started working on the Windycon book again, will do some more on that later today, and the pocket program.

I think it was Wednesday that we noticed Elrond was off, took him to the vet, he has another UTI. Last time was just before Ron’s surgery, when Ron was getting ill just thinking about the protein shakes. This time is just after mine. I’m wondering if Elrond fussed himself sick both times. He’s doing better now, though. Another win for better living through chemistry.

And now I should probably go for a walk. Which, BTW, is/was the main solution for the chest/shoulder soreness from the surgery.

Pictures? of Stitches Loot, and Other Updates

Let’s see, since I last posted, I got the windshield on the Kia repaired, where it was whacked by a rock or something and got two chips. I can still see them, but they’re less obvious. The repair was completely covered by insurance, and if it fails it will only cost me the deductible for replacing the windshield.

Thursday I picked up my new glasses, which are both progressive lenses (my first pair), and “Transition” lenses (aka photo-grey). I think I’ve pretty much adapted to the progressive lenses, although the first couple/few days I had to tell myself to give it at least a week. As for the photo-grey, why did I never do this before?

At MuseCon, Ron did the large stained glass panel. Thursday night we were out buying stained glass tools and supplies. Also Saturday, and Monday. I may post more about that on Ron’s blog, since its his thing.  Or maybe here, we’ll see.

Saturday we did said stained glass shopping, and I was Ron’s assistant on working on glass. Saturday night we went to the Tempel Lipizzaner show, tickets for which Xap had given me for my birthday. It was very cool. Then we stayed up too late when we got home.

Sunday Ron played with stained glass and I went to the Stitches Marketplace. I made it about halfway through before the dye fumes got to me, and I started buying. I didn’t buy as much as I could have, but I was not exactly restrained. While I was there, I discovered that there is a yarn shop in downtown Arlington Heights, Fuzzy Wuzzy Yarns. Why did I not know of this before?!?

Monday I was still pooped from MuseCon and staying up way too late Saturday night, so I stayed home and took a nap in the morning with my fuzzy boys, then Ron came home early and we went to stained glass shops/studios.

Today I had the bright idea to look for a plugin to make WordPress and Picasa play nicely together. If the one I installed worked, this paragraph will be followed by pictures of my Stitches haul:


 Yay! It worked!  And you can click to embiggen.

This is Eidos, from Verdant Gryphon, the salepeople for which were wearing Elizabethan-ish garb. Yeah, it sucked me in, guilty guilty guilty. But the yarn is what got me to buy. The colors are, from left to right, Kilos, Hathor, Icarus, and the Madness of Nebuchadnezzar. I’m not sure if this is going to be four pairs of socks, or if some of them (Kilos and Hathor) are going to be used for colorwork.


 Next up was some Claudia Handpainted Fingering, from Fine Points, Inc. The colors are Last Night’s Wine and Crocus, and they’re pretty certain to become a pair of mittens, just have to find a pattern.


And I finished off with a Blue Moon Fiber Arts debauchery at The Fold‘s booth. We have here:

Silkie Socks that Rock, Mermaid, for meeeeee. Even though its not my usual colors. It’s very soft.
Marine Silk – Fingering, Vintage, for my aunt with foot issues. Its very very soft. And a lot like the Mermaid Silkie STR and the Crocus above. I guess I was on a pastel/lavendar thing.
Socks that Rock Lightweight, Flambeau
Socks that Rock mediumweight, rare Gem mill end, which means odds and ends and dye experiments, and the yarn may have a few flaws.

I’m kinda surprised no dark red followed me home (from anywhere), it kept catching my attention.

Oh, and on Monday I kinda had a pattern binge. I bought patterns (and one free one) for little knitted critters. My excuse is that I need to make something with leftovers

I was very restrained at Mochimochi Land, I only got the Boo pattern (bat).

I fell down a little harder on Ravelry buying patterns from Cheezombie (who also has an Etsy shop if you don’t do Ravelry, and crochet patterns both places for non-knitters). I got Chowder Clam, da Fungis, Knitilus Nautilus, Manta RaySplat Cat, and Flappy Flounder, who is available free on Knitty.

I think I’d previously said that I was planning on housecleaning over the weekend. Didn’t happen. But Ron and Robin did work on the living room last night. In a related vein, I’ve heard back from one of the three housecleaning services I contacted via their websites last week. I think that’s a sign which one to go with (that would be The Maid Brigade. Fails were The Maids and Upstairs Downstairs Cleaning).


Oops, Didn’t Mean to Disappear

I just realized how long its been since I posted.

When last we met, I was preparing to go to the annual floodplain managers’ conference in Bloomington, traveling via train. The day prior to the conference, a Tuesday, was one of a string of Tuesday heavy snows. Harper closed early, so I left early to get Robin. Ron also left work early, arriving in time to take me to the Palatine Metra station. Given the weather I took a train downtown that was an hour earlier than I originally planned. There was little to no delay of Metra, as it turned out, but I’m not sorry I did.

The Amtrak trip to Bloomington was fairly uneventful. There were some crossings around Joliet and Bloomington where the train came to a stop before the crossing, a conductor got out and made sure everything was safe, the train would cross the road, the conductor would re-board, and the train would continue. There as alo a high-speed section where we went 110 mph. Whee! Unfortunately, between darkness and snow on the windows all I could see was the occasional light zipping past.  In the end we arrived in Blomington less than a half-hour behind schedule.

At first I had trouble figuring out where my hotel was from the station, then I took another step away from the front of the station and saw the sign. Google’s tenth of a mile away estimate was good.

The conference was boring. The trip home on the trains was also uneventful, although the Amtrak train was packed to the gills with students heading home on spring break. I think one of the conductors said they had sold all but one seat. I got into Palatine about 10:30 pm. The Metra train stopped in front of the Palatine station parking garage (short train) instead of the station, which are about a half-block apart. Had we been thinking, we would have expected that, bet we didn’t so Ron was waiting for me in front of the station.  Oops, trudge trudge.

Pippin was Not Pleased with me being away. He rather pointedly snubbed me when I got home, for which I just laughed at him. He also spent the night snuggled up. He kinda snubbed me next morning, by the next evening I’d been forgiven.

Let’s see, what else since then?

Ron went with Xap to a funeral in Michigan last week.

Monday afternoon Ron and I had fairly routine visits to the family doctor. I have a bruise and a lump where they drew blood. My good cholesterol was low.

Ron has tomorrow off, and Robin’s on Spring Break this week.

Kind of fell off of the cooking from the cookbook routines for a while, started again this week.

So far we’ve done:

Grits Polenta with Kale Zucchini, Cheese and Sausage. The grits-polenta change is pretty minor, IMO. Zucchini was a suggested alternate. I think I used to much, it was a bit soft. But not bad.

Steak, potato, and green bean salad: I used skirt steak from Eurofresh, trimmed and tenderized. Also over-cooked a bit, but it was tenderized enough that it wasn’t chewy. I used “yard-long” beans (more like 16″ beans) so I didn’t have to trim as many tips, lightly cooked so still firm but not raw. Boil small spuds, then cut up, and douse everything with vinaigrette. I thought the dressing was going to be overly aggressive from shallots, but sitting on the hot potatoes seemed to mellow it. Do again.

Vichyssoise, although the cookbook referred to more mundanely as simply potato-leek soup. The recipe called for a pound of leeks, a pound of peeled spuds, six cups of broth, and a half-cup of heavy cream. I threw in the whole half-pint (cup) of cream. It was yummy.

Tonight is a salad with spinach, chicken, kumquats, and I think pecans. I’ve never had kumquats, which look like olive-sized (and shaped) oranges, before. I got some extra, Robin reports they’ve very sour at first.

Saturday Robin did a thorough cleaning of the pantry. I encouraged ruthlessness when we got home from errands and found the pantry exploded all over the hallway. There’s a floor in there now!  Also a box of not-expired but WTF food (like beans with jalapenos, and more cans of evaporated milk than needed for the canned pumpkin supply) to go to the food pantry, and a bunch more expired stuff that Went Away. The scariest was a bottle of blue cheese dressing that expired in, IIRC, 2009. We looked in horror but did *NOT* open it.

To assist I made clean-out-the-pantry soup for lunch on Saturday: chicken and onion (not from the pantry), broth, a small jar of red sauce, a can each of Veg-Al, green beans, garbanzos, and corn, (including the liquid from the veg, but rinsing the slime off the garbanzos) some jasmine rice, a partial bag of vermicelli, a squeeze or three of lemon juice, and whatever herbs and spices jumped – I think Penzey’s Bavarian and Turkish.

Four Humanities courses at once has proved too much for Robin. He’s not failing any, but his Mythology teacher suggested that he see if he can change the two mythology courses to auditing instead of credit, since he’s past the refund/drop date.

Finished the Van Dyke socks, currently up to the heel turn (working toe-up) on my socks from the “Flame” yarn.

Trip Preparation

First, the important parts: I finished my bag (pictures on the Otter Blog shortly), scanned in patterns, decided what yarn I’m taking, and wound balls.

Both pictures are pretty fuzzy, they’re really only good for color.

Here’s the “Flames” yarn from Lorna’s Laces, once again forgot to read the label for the specific variety of yarn, wound up:

From Drop Box

And here’s the purple yarn, which is Melody Superwash, no clue if it has a color name or not:

From Drop Box

This morning I packed. I have my red briefcase I usually use for my laptop, and my new bag, which is stuffed pretty full.

I was going to take the 3:25 train from Palatine, which is scheduled to get in 45 minutes before my Amtrak train. I think I’m going to take the 2:25 train instead. I’d rather kill time in the station than worry about delays. Also, Harper announced a little while ago that campus is closing at 11:30 today, so heading home early to get Robin anyway (decided he didn’t want to walk today).

Yet Still Another Weekend, Part Umpty-First

Knitting and Travel Plans

Friday morning I had great ideas about accomplishing this, that, or maybe the other thing Friday evening. Silly me. What I did accomplish was a fair amount of progress on the Van Dyke socks. I was hoping to finish them, but the damn yarn just keeps on going!

From Drop Box

That, by the way, is the smaller of the two balls of yarn. My stepmother is shorter than I am, I think we’re getting to knee sock territory. I went up a needle size a couple-three inches down from the top, since they were getting long. But I hate to not use almost all of the yarn, which is silk and something. At this point I’ve decided to just start ribbing and will probably see how far it goes.

Ron had suggested that, since he wasn’t going to be home Friday evening, that I take Robin (and Marmaduke, if he was over) to Games Plus, and go to the Mosaic Yarn Studio, which has moved to 3 or 4 doors down from Games Plus. Great plan, except the yarn store closes at 4 pm on Friday. So I checked the hours of I’d Rather Be Knitting, which used to be in Long Grove but moved to Buffalo Grove about a year ago. They were open until 5.

At that point I wanted a yarn fix, dammit. Turns out that Wool and Company is in St. Charles, a reasonably short distance from my office. I looked on-line to see what they have in the way of sock yarn. Not that I need more, but, um. You know. Lorna’s Laces in “Flames” called to me.

So off I went. I got “Flames”.

From Drop Box

I also had a bit of an accident with worsted-weight yarn. I found a nice light green that said it would be great for Ron for kilt hose, but they only had two skeins, so I got a light grey instead.

From Drop Box

Then I grabbed the light green and some dark green to make nice thick warm two-color socks for me. I need more socks, really. My no-longer ingrown toenail was hard on socks.

From Drop Box

I escaped, with a stop at Taco Purgatory for food. Every so often a craving for cheap fast-food pseudo-Mexican grabs me, and I hit up Taco Bell. Friday was one of those days. The food was both terrible and really good. Such are cravings.

Saturday morning Robin had an urge to go to Games Plus, so while he and Ron shopped, I, um, went to Mosaic Yarn Studio. I escaped relatively cheaply, with a pair of one-sock-each balls of something dark purple, which I didn’t get pictures of. And some more size three bamboo needles, because I use them a lot.

Saturday afternoon and Sunday I worked on my leather iPad/knitting bag, more natter about that later on the Otter Blog.

This week is the annual floodplain managers’ conference, in Bloomington again this year. Registration opens at 8 am Wednesday, plenary session starts at 9 am. I am *not* getting up godawful early to drive down Wednesday morning with my cow-irkers. Nor am I staying at a cheap hotel. I’m paying the extra night and whatever over and above I can get reimbursed to go down tomorrow and stay at the hotel where the conference is. I’m also being lazy smart and letting Metra and Amtrak take care of the driving. My round-trip ticket from Amtrak was $28 (business/cheap class).  The weather forecast for the next couple days is just reinforcing my feeling that the train was a good idea (we’ll see how it works out in actuality, of course).

Anyway, that’s part of why I wanted to get my new bag done. Now I just have to figure out what yarn and patterns to take to keep me occupied on the train, and in free time. The Van Dyke socks are close enough to being done I’m going to leave them home. I think the flame and the purple, or maybe another yarn I’ve got in a color called “Mardi Gras” – purple, yellow, and bright green. Not that I think I’ll get one pair done, but I want to have options. My plan is to scan the patterns I’m waffling about, print copies, and also dump PDFs onto my phone and iPad, so I don’t have to schlep the books. Yes, its probably abusing copyright, but not any more than making photocopies for personal use, since I don’t share the scans.

Jumping back to transport, the original plan was that I would take the truck tomorrow, and Robin would drop me off at the Palatine train station. Unfortunately, Friday the truck started making a noise Ron described as marbles rolling around inside a can, so it’s at John & Scott’s, and Ron picked up a rental this morning. I’ll leave the car in the parking garage at the Palatine Station, and Ron will have Enterprise drop him off there tomorrow (since they don’t want under-25s driving their cars) after he drops off the rental.

We’ll see how Pippin reacts to me not being home this week. I suspect Disapproving Dog will Disapprove.

That Cookbook Thing

Finally resumed cooking from “One Pot of the Day” and “Salad of the Day” yesterday. For lunch we had Cannelli Bean with Not-Fennel and Not-Shrimp salad.

The recipe called for one and a half cans of beans. WTF? Opening two cans of beans and not using half of one. What idiot came up with this idea? Yeah, we used the whole two cans. It also said heat them in a saucepan on the stove, with no mention of draining/rinsing. We don’t like bean slime, thanks. Beans were drained, rinsed, and zapped in the microwave.

I substituted thinly-sliced chicken breast, cut into strips, for the shrimp. It was sauteed with some Penzey’s Fox Point seasoning (shallots, garlic, salt, white pepper, possibly other yummies). I got the chicken nice and brown.

Also appearing in this salad were thinly-sliced red onion, and standing in for fennel root and greens were sweet peas. Yes, I know, not usually interchangeable. I think the dressing was supposed to be made seperately and added, but I warmed up the beans with the olive oil, then sprinkled the red wine vinegar on after, along with more Fox Point. Top with chicken. Ron and I also added some parmesan. It was pretty good.

Dinner was Slow-Cooked Cuban Chicken. Brown chicken, simmer with sliced onion, some garlic, and spices, in orange and lime juices.  The chicken was supposed to be bone-in and skin-on, but I know Ron and Robin would Disapprove, so I ordered a package breasts and a package of thighs, both boneless skinless. Except I got two packages of breasts. Not sure if it was my fault or Peapod’s. For spices I used cumin and a little bit of Penzey’s Chili 9000 seasoning, but succeeded in not using so much chili seasoning that it tasted like funky chili. I cooked it in the oven instead of the crock pot, and almost over-cooked it (the onions were still damp mush, but other than that it was dry), but it was good. The onions were really sour.

As a side dish we made rice pilaf. That turned out really good, there wasn’t much left.

Need to go through the groceries in the ‘fridge and transfer some of the meat to the freezer. When I did the Peapod order Saturday I spaced out on the fact I wasn’t going to be home for dinner Tuesday through Thursday. Oops.


Lazy Food

I stopped at the grocery store last night for the chicken and lettuce (and the tomatoes that insisted on following me). But when I got home I had a serious case of don’t-wannas. So we got yummies from Tre Amici instead. No pizza, Fettuccini Alfredo, a Calzone, Bruschetta, and Garlic-Cheese Bread.

While we were waiting for dinner to arrive I actually beat Ron in a game of cribbage. It was a close until I got a 20-mumble point hand in what turned out to be the second-to-last hand.

After dinner I did get out to the kitchen and wash dishes, so partial conquest over the don’t-wannas.

Then I turned the heel on one of the Van Dyke socks.

Weekend Catchup


Saturday Robin was a lot of help cleaning up the dining room, more natter about that and pictures on the Otter Blog. Part of that project was going through the things I’d evicted from the kitchen a week and a half before, most of which did not return to cluttering up the counters. That in turn ended up extending to going through the stash of spices and seasonings. I threw out a bunch of McCormick bottles of great age and dubious remaining flavor.

I wasn’t able to bring myself to be quite so ruthless with the stuff from Penzey’s, but I did end up with  a big pile of empty Penzey’s jars to wash, which one of these days we need to refill from the stash of things still in zippy bags.

Sunday morning we picked up the living room. It still needs a date with the vacuum cleaner, but the mess has been beaten back a bit.

In the last week my side of the bedroom has been overwhelmed with clean laundry in need of folding. What fun.

Other Natter:

Had a MuseCon meeting Sunday. When it came time to discuss how MuseCon sponsorship of the Cafe went, I think a couple people were surprised to hear Ron, Xap, and I, wearing our Capricon hats, pronounce it not a perfect success. The food was great, and several people put in amazing amounts of time and effort running the fan table, demos, etc., but there were some bugs in terms of staffing for the regular Cafe operations.

Ron and I had yesterday off. Ron spent some time in the morning and bits of time in the afternoon working on getting the shopping cart system set up for this year’s MuseCon classes. I worked on a leather project.

Van Dyke socks (toe-up) are up to the heel turn. Being sport-weight and a pattern that was fairly easy to memorize they move pretty quickly, when I’m not distracted by leather projects.

This morning Pippin stole one of the sandwiches Robin had made for his lunch. I believe the sandwich had been left, unwrapped, on the kitchen counter while Robin went upstairs for something, so I wasn’t terribly sympathetic.

I have checked out and read an e-book from the library, and have several more on a wish list on my library account. The web interface they use (Overdrive “My Media Mall”) is not the greatest, and as of last night was driving Ron around several bends and up and down trees, but at the same time free is good. I also had to install Yet Still Another E-Reader on my iThingy, which is also somewhat annoying, and sign up for an Adobe account. Ron has an Adobe account, which is what I usually use, but I thought it might cause issues to try to tie the same Adobe account to two different library cards/accounts.

Food Recap:

Friday dinner: Aloo Gobi, which in the Indian cauliflower and potato dish I referred to Friday. Rendered shocking yellow by tumeric, it was mild, and tasty. Marmaduke was over for dinner, so it ended up being a side dish with bratwurst.

Saturday dinner: Finally did the stuffed shells. Filling was ricotta and spinach, with some nutmeg. Italian-ish food without garlic just seemed so wrong, so some garlic paste also snuck in. I used Prego mushroom red sauce, which was too sweet. I stuffed the shells with a spoon, which was a mess. I should have put the filling in a big zippy bag, cut one corner off, and used it as a piping bag. But I didn’t think of that until for too late. I could have cooked the shells a bit longer before stuffing them, but they finished off in the oven OK.

Sunday dinner: Thai Brisket. The sauce had some Thai flavor, but the meat alone was just . . . brisket. Not bad, just not memorable. We also did salad, mostly ignoring the instructions of “Salad of the Day” and making our own dressings. I re-discovered that mustard oil has kick, by putting too much on my salad.  Oops. Mayonnaise helped, but I didn’t quite finish my salad.

Monday dinner: Coconut Curry with Winter Vegetables. A vegetarian curry, with winter squash, sweet potato, and I substituted potatoes for celery root, as Ron and Robin weren’t any more enthused about trying celery root than I was. We added onion, as it seemed Just Wrong not to have onion in curry. Squash was butternut instead of delicata (which is an acorn variant, I think?). Just before serving lime zest and juice were added. We used an entire 4-ounce jar of red curry paste, instead of just two teaspoons, because the red curry paste was anything but spicy. Interesting, a little sweeter than I expected, definitely more Thai flavor than the brisket. We ate it over rice, Ron and I took leftovers today.

Dinner tonight is probably chickpea curry. Stopping at the grocery store for chicken, because I don’t think I can do vegetarian two dinners plus plus the breakfast and lunch between all vegetarian. Or maybe we’ll do Thai grilled lamb salad (which I need to get lettuce for, so I’m stopping at the store either way). Yeah, we seem to have hit a south-Asian-ish streak in the recipe books, considering we’re skipping things like Tentacles ala Somebody or Other and Fancy-Schmancy Scrambled Eggs (aka Cheese Souffle – I made a cheese souffle once. Tasty scrambled eggs, but a hell of a lot of work).

Bonus Food Things:

Friday night I threw together a breakfast casserole, mostly of Capricon baking binge or Cafe leftovers: eggs (only not-leftovers), buttermilk, bacon, cheese, and bread cut into cubes, which we had Saturday morning. Usually I include onions, but that was more work than I wanted to bother with.

Sunday afternoon I made scones, with some some fairly dried out currants we’d found on the cleaning binge. Just a single batch! My right shoulder complained at me. Well, one giant scone, that we broke pieces off of and nommed. Apparently I was not scarred, other than shoulder grumpiness, by the pre-Capricon scone binge. The currants re-hydrated and the giant scone was yummy. We ate it as snack before the MuseCon meeting and as dessert in the evening.

Socks & Chili

I decided that the socks were looking too big in the medium size, so I pulled back about a dozen rows on one and two rows on the other, and am proceeding with smalls. You have to get a few non-increase rows past the toe to really get a proper idea of the size when doing toe-up socks.

Dinner last night was turkey and white bean chili, made mostly ignoring the “One Pot of the Day” recipe. It went something like this:

Saute a pound of ground turkey and a big chopped-up onion. Combine in the crock pot with two cans of white beans (drained and rinsed), a big can of hominy (drained and rinsed), some garlic paste, cumin, and a couple heaping spoonfuls of Penzey’s Chili 9000 seasoning. Cook all day in the crock pot. Yum.

I opressed Robin by asking him to make cornbread to go with the chili. Doubled Batty Cracker recipe baked in the 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Could have baked a little longer, but the skewer came out clean so Robin thought it was done. Also yum.

Indian cauliflower and potato dish for dinner. Must call home to see if Marmaduke is there. Will need to procure more food if so.