Monday, July 30, 2007

I Must Be Getting Old

Perhaps I'm getting old, in looking back over my blog, I realized I've never posted a photo of the bag I sent to my Spring Felted Bag partner. I have referred to it several times thinking it was here but lo and behold, it isn't. Here is a photo of it and it's lining. It was sent out in June to my pal JoAnn. The bag isn't a true red at all, more of a deep rosy rust, I love it. I had to make two trips to the fabric shop to find the right lining. The first one I brought home didn't please me when I held it inside the bag but the second round I was pleased, the first piece of material will go in a bag for someone else.
I knitted on the blanket for Christopher yesterday and added some of Coats Moda.dea Cache in the rendezvous color scheme to give a color break for adding in a 'wild' color. It is a blue yarn with greens and oranges and a silver thread (among other colors) in it. I think I will be able to go from the blue, to the cache, to orange without it being totally off-the-wall. (Wish I could get into a more 'off-the-wall' frame of mind while knitting this project. I started adding the orange last night, got about half-a-row knitted before tiring out and putting it away for the evening.
Dariana was out yesterday to play with papa and me and we always play so hard that we're exhausted when she goes home. Yesterday I took her swimming and she wanted to jump, jump, jump. It's so much fun to play with her and watch her learning to make her little way into society. Papa had to play hide and seek with her and play with her 'baby'. He managed to get around changing Dariana's diapers, but she has him changing her 'baby's' diapers and clothes. At two she knows how to 'pretend' and use her vivid imagination. So much joy!
Our neighbor, Sally, brought over a loaf of her wonderful banana loaf bread last evening for us to have with our coffee this morning. I cut a nice, thick slice of it to have with my second cup and it is so delicious; I have to ask her for her recipe. It is a sweeter bread than I make, choked full of walnuts and it is a bit sticky and dark as if it could have molasses in it. Yum....
Tomorrow I want to tell about the hummingbirds.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

About A Mile Of Knitting To Go

I've been playing with this thing for over a year now, just can't get into it because it isn't really something I would knit for myself. It's a queen-sized bed blanket requested by my son. He loves colors and textures even more than I do and requested a blanket with as many colors and textures as I could put into it. Notice I started off in a somewhat (to me) sensible color scheme but then switched to a wavering scheme that pleases him. He is sure that the outcome will be pleasing and perhaps it will. Anyway, I've decided I'll work on it every time I have a few minutes to knit but don't have time to really concentrate on another project and I'll try to finish it by the end of the year. At some point I have to work in some reds, greens, orange and yellows.

Look at this, isn't it the most precious thing. It is for my granddaughter and it will stay at grand- grama's house to avoid having to bring one each time they come for a visit. When I talked to Dariana by phone a few days ago and told her I had bought her a swimsuit special for my house, she turned to her mother and said excitedly "Grand-mama bought me my own bathing suit". She is such a joy and I am so thankful for her.

Mr. Ro and I are going this morning to order the kitchen range we looked at earlier this week and he made an appointment with the flooring company to come on Monday to measure and give us a price for new kitchen and bathroom floors. I'm really looking forward to getting these things done, and more. We've been in this house for two years now and I haven't gotten anything accomplished other than going to the doctor, going for test, being sick, and on and on. Now that I'm better I have a lot to work on and I'm ready to get started.

I had my yearly physical yesterday and I am basically healthy. I have to go back on Coumadin since one of the MRI's I had on Monday revealed I had undergone a stroke previously. My Cardiologist had already told me he wanted me to be put back on it after the next Oncologist check-up. I hate this particular drug but at the same time, I am thankful we have it. It can be a life saver for stroke victims or people with heart problems. I try to remember that, 'bad is sometimes good'.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Knitting for Me

With all the exchanges and swaps completed, it is now time to knit for 'me'. As much fun as I have doing these exchanges, it feels good to have them all completed for a time. I will be able to knit for myself without feeling quilty thinking I should be working on this or that other project.

Here's some photos of my last exchange. The 'mess' and the replacement for the 'mess' that I knitted mostly during our car trip south. I love the replacemnt but am still 'ticked' with the author of the pattern for 'the mess'.

Actually, the Wotton Bag (named for a wool mill town in England) is so much fun to knit (a four row repeat pattern keeps it interesting) I am ready to knit one for myself and my daughter, Melody. It's not a large bag but it does hold a lots and it's smart enough for her to use at work.

Yesterday hubby and I went shopping. We didn't buy anything, well, thats not exactly true, we didn't buy what we went shopping for, but I did buy a new bathing suit. (Needed a new one from the weight loss I took with Hodgkin's disease and the chemo treatments.) We were shopping for a new range and for kitchen and bathroom floor coverings. We were astounded at the price of the stoves - the style we have to have is double what a standard range or cooktop cost. Our current one slides into a stand alone counter and is a standard stove without back and sides and rest flat on the counter like a cooktop. We finally found an affordable one, when it goes on sale over weekend; the salesperson was nice enough to let us know if we waited, we could save about $300. We checked out floor samples from two different flooring stores and I think will be able to decide on a new floor cover using the samples.

On Monday we had a couple over to make their own batch of pickles. They brought the jars and ingredients and DH and I showed them how to whip up a batch in an afternoon. They were so proud of the colorful jars of pickles and couldn't wait to dive into them. Since they were still hot and would be for most of the night, I gave them a jar from my pantry to take home and enjoy with their dinner. Here's the recipe and don't let the word 'squash' scare you. They are wonderful, like a yellow bread and butter. I want to share the recipe with you.


5 - pounds yellow squash washed thoroughly and sliced thin
3 - medium sized white onions peeled and sliced thin
1/2 - cup table salt
Ice cubes or crushed ice
1 - teaspoonfull celery seed
2 - teaspoonfull mustard seed
1 1/2 - teaspoonfull turmeric
5 - cups sugar
5 - cups cider vinegar

Wash and slice the squash. Peel and slice the onions. In a large container, layer the squash and onions sprinkling each layer with salt. Cover with a thick layer of ice cubes, mixing the ice into the squash and onions. Cover and weight down with a cutting board or other heavy object. Let stand 2 -3 hours.

While squash are resting in the brine water, wash and sterilize the jars and keep warm. (I use the dishwasher for this purpose.)

Rinse and drain the squash.
Combine remaining ingredients and heat slowly, just to a boil. Add squash mix and let the mixture return to a slow boil. Let mixture cook for just a minute, the squash should be slightly cooked, yet still crisp.

Just before adding the squash to the jars, heat t he lid flats in a shallow pan of boiling water.
When squash are ready, spoon them into hot, dry jars. Pack the squash down by running a knife around the inside edges of the jar and pushing down on the squash. Add more squash, and pack down until the jar is filled up to its shoulder. The squash should be covered with the boiling liquid. Wipe the mouth of the jars with a damp cloth and place a flat on top. Screw on a lid ring and tighten slightly. Turn the jar upside down on clean dry towel for several hours. You should hear a ping every so often, that will be a jar sealing. When cool, place in a cool dry cabinet or pantry. As long as the jars are sealed the squash will keep for a couple of years. After opening a jar be sure to refrigerate the remaining pickles.
Makes about 15 or 16 half pints, or 7 or 8 pints.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Whizz of A Week

What a busy week we've had. While visiting my sister and her husband, picked and prepared, and canned vegetables for about 135 jars to bring home with us. We bought two bushels of already shelled butter beans since their crop didn't produce a lot this year, and we bought a twenty-five pounds of tomatoes so I could make soup. Everything else came from their garden. My brother-in-law had a dozen pints of green beans on the counter cooling form me when we arrived on Thursday night and he had a dozen pints ready for me to bring back to my daughter. DH shelled almost two bushels of crowder peas by himself (oh, what sore fingers he had), while I went to the garden and cut okra and picked butter beans and green beans to make vegetable soup. We washed and sliced okra, shelled butter beans, strung and broke green beans, took the skins off tomatoes and chopped them and I cut off about five dozen ears of corn, thought I'd never get to that last ear. We canned peas, butter beans, more green beans, made and canned the vegetable soup, made and canned bread and butter pickles from cucumbers and made and canned squash pickles from yellow crook neck squash. We froze corn, okra, and some more peas, all this to come back to Virginia with me.

If this wasn't enough work for the four of us, my brother-in-law decided that we had to take off Sunday morning for a half-day of fishing. We had an early, quick breakfast and took off to the creek. He put the boat in and we all jumped in along with enough mosquitoes to start a low-country-stew. Once out on the water the mosquitoes wasn't too bad, only when we pulled in to anchor the boat and fish for a spell. We sped down the creek to the rice canals and up the canals to their favorite fishing spots. In a couple of hours we had enough red fish and cat fish in the cooler for dinner and headed back to Yemassee. The fish were cleaned, cut into filletes, then fried outside for dinner. Another day we had wild turkey deep fried for lunch and left-overs made into a wonderful turkey salad for dinner that evening. My brother-in-law is a real outdoors person who loves to hunt and fish. If he catches fish, shrimp, crabs, whatever, or hunts and kills venison, turkey, wild boar, whatever, it is cleaned and frozen and will be a meal. They (my sister and her husband) live close to the earth and have a wonderful, simple life now that they have retired and turned the plant nursery over to their son and his family. They hold family gatherings often and there is always a big turnout when something is scheduled for their home. All the nieces and nephews love to visit them because life in the low country is always an adventure.
When we returned home on Tuesday, I had a package waiting for me from Margie, my No Sheep For You exchange partner. She sent goodies along with two skeins of beautiful yarn, one a Debbie Bliss alpaca silk blend and one a stretched hand-dyed and spun merino wool from Plum Crazy Ranch and Fiber Arts. Thank you once more Margie for such a pleasing package.
I also got my downstream partners package mailed and she should be receiving it tomorrow, or at the latest, Monday. I hope she will be please with the yarn I sent her, also two skeins, and a pattern to knit one of the yarns with. Hope the other gifts will make her happy also.

I think it is nap time. I've not been sleeping well with my arms and legs going numb on me. The Dr. ordered another MRI but thinks it possibly may be coming from the chemo medicines I had to take.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Going South Today

On Tuesday. while talking to my sister in SC it was decided we should come for a visit while the garden was full of fresh vegetable to can and freeze for the winter pantry. DH is not a par-taker of vegetables but I love them, much prefer them over meat or pasta. (He, being from an Italian family, would eat pasta of any kind three times a day and love every minute of it.) So, we are leaving shortly after my hairdresser's appointment going south for a few days.

I spent a great deal of time yesterday, preparing, gathering all my empty canning jars and putting them in the dishwasher for a good wash, checking on lids for the jars and finding I didn't have enough (DH went to the local feed and seed and bought them for me), catching up on the laundry, keeping my appointment with the cardiologist, and best of all, preparing dinner for Dariana and her mom and dad. I had to see Dariana before we left; of course I wanted to see my daughter and son-in-law too, but I couldn't bear to leave without seeing little Dari. It was such a treat watching as they turned into the drive and to watch her being helped out of the car, all the time watching for her grand mama through the kitchen window. Then, as she comes up the walk and up the steps, she is calling grand mama, grand mama. Grand mama opens the door and Dari jumps into her arms with a big hug and kisses. What more could one ask for? After dinner Dari and grand mama sat in the floor and played make-up. This time we had lip glosses, rings, and paste-ons that shine and glitter. The lip gloss was a Vaseline base and Dari was very generous in making up herself and her grand mama. I still have glowing, sparkling stickers on my arms and hands this morning and I still have a star and sparkles on my nails from my Fourth of July manicure by Dariana. Dariana is two.

Maestro is whining to go. We made the mistake of saying we were going to see my brother-in-law and Maestro recognized the name. Now he will beg for us to 'hurry up' until we are in the car and on our way. He loves 'going on vacation', a phrase we use to let him know the ride in the car is going to be a long one.

I have started another tote bag for my ITE-IV partner and it is packed and ready to go on the trip with me, along with material for the lining, a couple of pairs of handles and some rings in case I decide to use them, and everything I need for finishing the bag. I will work on it in the evenings after we have done our day's work in the garden and the kitchen. I don't think I mentioned the bag I originally made for my partner met with a felting disaster, totally my fault from following the pattern. "Sorry, my brain, for not listening to you." The bag is supposed to be in the mail by the 18th and I think it will be. I've let my partner (and posted on the ITE-IV blog) know what happened and that another, and different bag is in the making.

So now I'm off to can butter beans, peas, green beans (snaps to some people), and vegetable soup. I will freeze okra and corn and if there is time and squash available, will make squash pickles. We make squash pickles almost every year. They are so good on a cold chicken, turkey or roast beef sandwich and we give lots of them to friends when they drop by for a visit. We plan to make our friend Ray and his wife a 'personal batch' because they enjoy them so, and because they are such good friends and we love them.

Monday, July 9, 2007

No Sheep In This Basket

Look at all this beautiful yarn and not one skein of it has any wool or acrylic in it. How wonderful that we now have a choice beside wool, acrylic, or cotton. Oh, I know there is rayon, nylon, and such to be had and many beautiful yarns made from them, but there are so many NEW Fibers out there now. For instance, the Tofutsies you see here is made from chitin, a fiber made from crab and shrimp shells. The Bamboo, the green striped yarn is made from 100% bamboo, and the Bamboozel, the blue striped is made from a combination of bamboo,cotton, and elastic nylon. It feels like heaven it is so soft. There is Banana Silk that my Knitter's Treat partner sent me a couple of months ago made from banana fibers. This yarn is luscious to look at and to feel. There is some 100 mercerized cotton in the basket also, but the most unusual is a skein of Tibet, 100% aloo (nettle) made in Tibet. It is beautiful to see, but not soft, in fact it is stiff and scratchy but is suppose to make a fabulous skin scrub. I bought it and a pattern for a washcloth or bath mitt to knit from the yarn at my LYS on Saturday.

One of these yarns and patterns is going to my No Sheep For You partner and one may find its way into the ITE-IV box, but most of it is for me, me, me.

Friday, July 6, 2007

2008 Vacation Plans Are About To Begin

I still have stars and sparkles on my nails. I thought they would be gone by now, after all this was nail polish for a child.

I've completed knitting for my ITE-IV exchange except for adding the bottom (here's a peek of it as it is tonight) I plan to do this tomorrow and to also get it felted. After I share it with my Monday night knitting group I will post it for it's journey north. I plan to visit my LYS tomorrow and pick up the yarn for the last package going to my No Sheep For You partner and I will have completed all the exchanges and swaps I'm currently involved in. Next week is 'me' knitting time and planning for our 2008 vacation.

We plan to return to Great Britain and now that we are both retired, plan to stay for a couple of months and visit some of the neighboring countries while we are there. I'm reading up and DH has begun surfing the net for reduced air fares. Today I began surfing to find a short-term lease on a cottage or apartment that would give us a central location to rest in, as well as vacation from.
This trip we plan to see more of the northern part of England and probably work in a quick trip to Scotland, perhaps Ireland, but definitely plan to do a barge trip up and down one of the rivers in either France or Germany. We've just started the planning stage so things haven't come into clear focus yet but we have an idea of what we would like to do.

Today, not much was accomplished by me. I slept later than usual and was lazy getting a start this morning. My neighbor and I had planned to loaf a bit today, and we did. We drove west today, stopping at a few antique shops but mostly just going for a drive. We had a lunch of handmade burgers in a tiny little town on our way back home. Handmade burgers are not easy to come by anymore with all the Sam's Clubs and Costco's around and their frozen burgers. These were b-i-g burgers with all the trimmings and they were 'messy'; juicy and good. After that kind of lunch all I wanted was a nap and once we got home that's just what I had, a catnap. Once I was back up there was still time to vacuum the pool and take Maestro for a swim and do my water exercises. Tomorrow I have lots of things to get done. A play day is good but it sure puts me behind with other things. I won't see Dariana this weekend, they have gone to visit Uncle Chris in Northern VA. so I'll take the time that I usually spend with her and play catch-up.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

4th of July - "Family Day"

My 4th of July has been a wonderful day of enjoying family. Today is our family's 2nd anniversary with Dariana and it has been a wonderful two years of loving her and watching her grow from a baby that wasn't even sitting alone at the time, to a beautiful toddler full of energy and sheer joy. What a happy family we are.

Today my daughter and her husband had both sides of their family for 'Family Day'. We decided when we were on our trip to Guatemala that we would celebrate every year on the day we were given Dariana and call it 'Family Day'. Both sides of their family would be invited to come and be together and share our love with Dariana and each other. What a wonderful way it is to celebrate the Fourth-of-July, the day our beloved Dariana was given her freedom from poverty in a country where there are too many children born of un-wed mothers and into families so poor they are unable to feed or cloth their own children. And still, they have more and more babies.

People say to us what a lucky little girl Dariana is and yes, I guess she may be in some ways, but it is us, her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that are the lucky ones. She brings us such joy I can't imagine life without her. Watching her and her little cousins play today was such a thrill for me. To see how they interact with one another and to see how they take care of Dariana (she is the youngest) is so sweet. On the swing set it is "watch me Dariana, see how high I can go", and Dariana's reply "push me higher". In the pool it is "look Dari, I can swim underwater" and Dari giggles and kicks her feet and flaps her arms learning to swim with her water wings on. Both families sit on the deck or in the yard watching these beautiful children play and knowing how very lucky we are to have them. Beautiful, healthy, full of love, and having a good time.

I took 'little girl dress-up' nail polish for Dariana today. She has a vivid imagination, much like a child of 5 or 6, and it was only a few minutes after she woke from her nap that she called "Grandmama, lets go put sparkles on our nails", and so we did. She polished over my manicured nails first with pink polish, then red polish, and then topped it with sparkles and stars. I still have a star on my thumb nail, perhaps it will still be there when I go in for my next manicure. I don't mind, it makes me smile and think of Dariana. After she finished my nails she wanted to polish papa's and of course papa complied. The afternoon flew by.

Once back home, DH and I played a game of scrabble and had a glass of wine. As always after a game of scrabble Mr. Maestro ask for his walk, and again papa complied. Maestro knows when the last round of scrabble is being played; I don't know how. We try different tactics to see if we can finish a game without him knowing; so far we've not been able to. Maestro is eleven years old now and I think he knows all the tricks. He lays nearby on the floor and sleeps while the game is in progress and seldom interrupts, but when the last tile comes out of the bag, he is up and whining for his walk. Dogs are amazing too.

I settled on the porch while they were on their walk, then DH joined me once they were back. I knitted and we talked for awhile and listened to some jazz while sipping a glass of wine. A wonderful day. I am so lucky and so thankful for it all.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

My Post-lady Came Bearing Gifts

Yesterday my post-lady delivered a package for me from my No Sheep For You exchange.

Look what was in it.
I love the Bamboo yarn; it is so soft. The color looks like a cup of hot coco, so pretty. Other goodies are a bag of rose tea, a nice bar of soap and a book of inspirational versus for women. Thank you for everything, I know I will enjoy it.

Later in the afternoon the post-lady returned with another package for me. She failed to leave it on her regular route and brought it back on her way home from work. I already had my knitting basket and purse on my arm ready to go meet with Pat's group for a few hours of knitting and fun. There was two things I could do, open the box and stay home and post a thank you like a polite person would do, or take the package with me to knitting and show-off. You know what I chose to do, I chose to show-off and how thrilled the ladies were to see what was in my package. Here's a photo of the bag sent to me from Jennifer in KC .
Look at the size of this bag, it is huge. Jennifer filled the bag with all kinds of goodies, two skeins of one of my favorite yarns to use for felting items (that enough to make another bag, but not one this size), there was some of the largest paper clips I have ever seen and a green stickem note pad, a memo pad, lots of yum-yums and a big box of of crayons for my precious Dariana. Look at this:
Now, let me tell you something special.
Jennifer dreamed this bag up and as she knitted, she made notes for the pattern. Isn't she smart! She plans to tweak it a bit then offer it for publication. I can tell you a bit about it. It took seven (7) skeins of cascade yarn. That's 220 yards x 7 skeins = one thousand five hundred and forty yards of yarn.
This bag will also make a beautiful basket beside my fireplace holding whatever project I'm working on at the time. The color grape is used in the window treatment in the great room and I have a green upholstered chair in that will go. When I ready to go, all I'll have to do is run the long loop through the short loop and I'm ready, see:
Can't wait to start using it.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Knitting Friends Are Special

On Saturday afternoon a couple of my knitting friends came for a visit. It was so good to see them again and the time just flew by. We didn't get a lot of knitting done but we did share what we were, and have been working, on and we shared lots of laughs (good for the soul). DH grilled us a burger to go along with fresh fruit, pasta salad, and dessert (some of the cheese cake I made and put away for their coming); we drank Sangria.

I'm worked on a bag, while Pat worked on a prayer shawl and here I am modeling the afghan Donna is knitting for her sister.
And here is the three of us being ourselves for a memory picture.
This became my knitting corner during the time I was taking chemo treatments and so has remained. I keep an array of yarn, needles, book and magazine, and knitting accessories beside my chair always. Life throws us many curves that we learn from and I've learned a knitting basket full of yarn is not something that has to be hidden to neaten- up a room for visitors, not for true friends.
Pat has a small knitting group that meets at her home each Monday night which I've never been to. Not that I haven't been ask to come over and over again, but because my LYS met on Monday nights and during the winter months I don't like the drive from Richmond to Powhatan on the dark, curvey roads. Anyway, now that my health is much better and the dark doesn't fall until near nine o'clock I've decided I will go tonight. Can't wait to meet the other ladies in her group, some I know, some I know of but haven't met, but I know its a good group of ladies that enjoy knitting together and having a good time.
I've had a terribly sad thing happen this weekend, my niece with leukemia passed away early Sunday morning. She was diagnosed a year before my Hodgkin's was diagnosed. We grew up together, in the same house and did all the things that children and teen-agers do when growing up, having lots of fun, and a some quarrels too . Vickie, was a year older than I; me being the youngest of 10 siblings, and her mother next-to-the-oldest of my sisters. It's very heart-breaking to me; in some ways she was more of a sister to me than some of my older sisters. It was hard for me too, with us both having cancer at the same time and knowing she wasn't going to make it through hers. I saw her in March when I went to Georgia and we said our good-bye then, knowing it would be our last time together. That was a heart-wrenching experience but I'm so glad to have been able to be with her for that little while and to be able to tell her how much I loved her and that I would miss her. I do more than ever it seems.
DH has been building another raised bed for plants. The last couple of days has been terrific weather to be outside and we both took advantage of it. I pulled a few weeds yesterday and watered the new beds we'd put in earlier this year. Today I want to add some of the dwarf and medium iris to the new bed. There is so much work to be done.
My first retirement check has arrived in my checking account. Now I can truly say, I'm retired and get on with a retiree's life so gotta go - the garden is calling.


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DH'S Cardigan

Ruffled Shawl

Ruffled Shawl
Knitted Prayer Shawl with Crochet Ruffle

Knitting Class

Knitting Class
Teaching Co-workers to Knit

Wave & Shell Shawl

Wave & Shell Shawl

Plum WIne (SDB-Iris) 04/01/07

Plum WIne (SDB-Iris) 04/01/07

Chemo Hat

Chemo Hat
Chemo Hat

Chemo Hat

Chemo Hat
Peaches & Cream Yarn

Felted Hats

Felted Hats
Gray Hat Before Felting

Felted Hat

Felted Hat
Gray Hat After Felting

Baby's Hat

Baby's Hat
Dariana's Hat