Friday, 24 February 2012

Mystery

So, I stopped at a gas station on the way home from school today to put a bit of petrol in the car (it's been running on "E" since Tuesday night.  Yes, I know.)

And the cap for my gas tank wasn't there.

My reaction was to give it a blank stare, and then to say "What?  What?  What?? ... WHAT."  Out loud, and with feeling.  Very much in the manner of David Tennant as the Doctor, in fact, although that did not occur to me until later.

Like this.

I can only assume that someone stole it, because when I tanked up last week I distinctly remember screwing it back in.  Besides, it's attached to my car -- it's not like I could drive off and leave it somewhere. 

But why would you steal a gas cap?  What practical purpose does it serve, when removed from its proper place?  (If the culprit, should there actually have been one, was trying to steal gas, he would have been sadly disappointed.  I had none to give him.)

It is an hour later, and I am still saying "What?  What??  WHAT."  I can't seem to think of any other response.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Anecdotal

I wore high heels to school today.  This is a pretty much unheard-of occurrence -- since I'm already six feet tall, I don't feel the need to emphasise my height any further, and besides flats are far more comfortable.  But I have a singing competition coming up for which I've been informed that it's advisable to wear high heels (something about the way they make you appear onstage?) so I thought I'd get in a little practise.

It's really hard to walk in 3" heels when the most you generally wear is a little 3/4" kitten heel.

Also, high heels make my feet swell.

When your feet swell, those shoes that fit all right at the beginning of the day are suddenly really, really uncomfortable.  So I spent the majority of the day in excruciating pain, trying to smile when people told me how cute my shoes were.  (Well, they ARE cute.  They're lovely.  Just don't ask me to wear them more than once a year!)

**
On the bus going home this afternoon, I was reading a Sherlock Holmes story and knitting.  This is pretty typical of me on the bus, although the book varies.  But I overheard someone behind me remark to his friend:  "Oh look!  She's reading and crocheting at the same time.  Didn't know you could do that."

(As it happens, I can't... crocheting takes far too much concentration, not to mention I have to look at what I'm doing.)

**
Also, upon leaving the bus (headed in to the store to pick up some groceries), a man accosted me with "Well, aren't you the cutest little thing to get off that bus today!"  Part of me very much wanted to say two things; "little thing?" and "So have you been watching the bus all day?  What's your basis for that statement?"  I settled for neither of these, but gave him a bit of a smile.  Whereupon he tried to ask me questions like, what was I doing (Wal-mart), was I getting back on the bus (no), where was I going then (home), what, was I walking? (no)... at which point I managed to shake him off.  It's amazing how tenacious people can be.  To me, a monosyllabic answer to every question, and a refusal to make eye contact, would communicate a lack of interest... but apparently not.

Apparently I should also wear high heels, skirts, and oversized shirts if I want to attract undue attention to myself.  (But not those shoes, not unless I can just sit in a corner and look pretty without having to WALK anywhere!)

(And I've come to realise I have NO idea how to react to compliments on my appearance, especially from men.)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Leap Year Sale!

Baby/lap quilt in the shop (with much younger Conrad.  Kitten not for sale.)
My friends, I've always liked leap years.  I think it probably stems from my early and ardent love for The Pirates of Penzance (in which Frederick, apprenticed to pirates until his twenty-first birthday, discovers that since he was born in a leap year on the 29th of February, his twenty-first birthday will not happen for a very long time to come and he has in fact had only 5 birthdays.)

In which they explain poor Frederick's birthday to him.  I have no idea why the orchestration is so bizarre.

Anyway.  Leap years!  This is one.  And so in honour of that, I thought I would have a sale in my Etsy shop!  For no other reason than because this year has a 29th of February and I think that's pretty cool.

Cowl in the shop.
From now until the end of the month (through midnight on March 1) I'll be offering a coupon code for 10% off anything in my shop.  This includes anything I might list between now and then, also!  So if there's something you've been eying but couldn't quite afford... if there's a gift you want to give which was previously just a little out of budget... now is your chance.  If you were waiting for the opportune moment -- this is it!

Mug cozy!  Not on a mug though.
(There's a new mug cosy in the shop.  I love this double knitting thing!  Also, look for some Rose Tyler-from-Doctor Who inspired merchandise within the next few days!)

Not Doctor Who, but still nerdy.  Gryffindor scarf in the shop!  10% off!


So head on over and check out the sale in the shop!  The code is "LEAPYEAR2012" and is good for everyone, everything, shipping everywhere, until 12:01 on March 1st. 

Have fun!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Curly Girl


The Sunday afternoon outfit/photo post seems to be becoming a regular feature.  Today's isn't so much about the clothes, though -- it's about hair!


I think I've wanted curly hair for as long as I can remember.  Back when I was 7 or 8, I remember putting my hair in numerous tiny braids, trying to get some body.  (I probably looked more like Ms. Frizzle than anything else, but it pleased my tiny mind at the time!)

More recently, I've tried all kinds of ways to get my hair to hold curl.  It's naturally straight, straight, straight, and curls often fall out less than an hour after putting them in.  I've tried foam rollers, hot rollers, curling irons both large and small, rag curls, pin curls... and none of them really worked.  (Well - when I had really short hair pin curls worked, but I looked like Shirley Temple, which was a bit unfortunate since I was 20 at the time...)


Then a few weeks ago I tried the tutorial for "Sarah Jessica Parker" curls from the blog Love Maegan.  Mine turned out a little less "big, bouncy curls" and a little more natural and tousled, but that's actually what I prefer so I was thrilled!  I've always loved Elizabeth's hair (from Delightfully Tacky) and I feel this method gives me kind of the same look -- very windblown and casual.  (With the deep side part I feel like I'm channelling Julia Roberts, which is okay with me...)


The method is kind of like pincurls, except you twist the hair even more, and instead of rolling them flat against your head they twist up into spirals that stick out a bit.  I always feel like an alien but  nobody sees me at night so that's okay!  I start with barely-damp hair and sleep on the spirals, and then finger-comb them out in the morning.

Curly hair from a few weeks ago (with extraneous white fuzzy.)
And they stay in!  It doesn't give me ringlets or anything, but my hair holds body and texture all day long, which it's never done before.  These photos were taken about 4:30 pm... I combed out the curls about 9 this morning.  I'd gone for a long walk in the wind also.  And, I get tons of compliments on this hairstyle.  So -- this method is a success, I think!


Outfit information: Coat: Old Navy / Top: Target / Skirt: part of my 2-piece Evan Picone suit (Marshalls) / Tights: Ross or Marshalls / Shoes: Payless / Earrings (should you be able to find them in amongst all the hair: Premiere Designs.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Grad School Problems

I have to write a paper for my music analysis class.  Normally writing papers is no big deal.  I've been writing essays pretty much as long as I can remember... I have a minor in English... I like writing.

But I've never written a paper for a music theory class.  And I never, ever write my papers following any kind of regimented schedule.  (You know: write an outline.  Write the introduction.  Whatever.)

For this class, I have to write the introduction first.  Which I guess makes sense - start with telling what you're going to write about?  Start with the hypothesis/thesis?  Okay.  Except I've always written papers by just diving in -- describing what I see, what I think, what might be going on -- and out of the rambling I figure out what I'm actually trying to say.  THEN I write the introduction.

(Yes - I've usually written at least four pages before I figure out exactly what my thesis is.  I'm sure this is very unorthodox.)

I have to turn in an introduction tomorrow morning.  I've analyised the piece, broken it down into themes and ideas, labeled things, plonked things out on the piano... and I have no idea what I want to say about it, because I haven't "written out" my thoughts.  And of course I procrastinated a little.  (A lot.)  So this might be a long night.  I think I'm going to have to write half the paper before I can write the introduction.

I think I may have a problem.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

New Techniques

I wrote this post on Sunday and was going to post it yesterday... but I forgot, and now it seems appropriate for Valentine's Day, so here you are!

I've been knitting mug cozies lately.  They're just little bands of knitting (or cloth) which wrap around your mug or your cup and serve the double purpose of keeping the mug warm and saving your hands from being burned.


The first one I knit was just a simple strip with a cable down the middle.  It's not finished yet though because it needs a button and I can't find my button jar.  (Finished it last night but it's a little short, so I'm keeping it as a prototype.)  So I knit another one, and I taught myself some new techniques!

I wanted to knit something with hearts on it, because I had scraps of red and white wool and it just seemed appropriate.  But I wanted a nice finish on both sides.  So I taught myself double knitting!

Scraps - my work station.
I had to learn to do the tubular cast-on.  It's complicated and looks like it would never work out, but then you get this really cool cast-on that doesn't show at all, and you have a piece of knitting which is a different colour on each side.

The cast-on.
 If you just kept knitting with one colour on each side, you'd end up with a tube or bag of knitting.  But I wanted a pattern in it, which sort of knits the two sides together.

After the first four rows.
 When you knit the pattern in, you sort of switch the sides of the knitting.  The basic technique is this: You have twice the number of stitches you actually need to produce the length of fabric you want, and you knit the first stitch in one colour, the second in the second colour, and keep alternating.   Then to knit in a pattern, as I did with the hearts, you reverse the colours, so that you knit a previously-white stitch with red, and the corresponding red stitch with white, to make the pattern.  (I think if you wanted a tube that was all one colour you would knit one, slip one across, and then knit the slipped stitches and slip the knit stitches on the way back. But in my mind it's easier to knit a solid-colour tube on circulars or DPNs.)  That's a really bad description but it's the best I can come up with.  And you get this!


Totally reversible.


And with hearts on it!


It fastens with a little loop and bobble affair, and it's in the shop today!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

A 1940s Dress


This is another dress I finished quite a while ago (in the fall of 2010, in fact) and never got decent pictures of.  These still aren't great - the self-photography idea didn't work quite as well this week as it did last time! - but they're better than nothing!


It's hard to believe that a week ago I was cavorting about in a thin silk dress and a light cotton sweater.  Today it was just above freezing and I was glad of my wool coat and the cowl and the stockings and the gloves!


I made this dress as a costume for a play at Union back in my senior year.  It wasn't actually made for me, but the girl who wore it (my best friend) and I manage to share clothes despite being built totally differently, so at the end of the play I got to keep it.  All I had to do was let the sleeve hems down.

I did iron it this morning.  But then I sat on it during church.  Sigh.
The pattern is a repro from 1946.  (Can't find the pattern online now to link to it...)  I made it up in a 100% wool suiting fabric with a really nice drape.  I remember it being a little fiddly to put together - all the asymmetrical pieces - but it wasn't too bad and it turned out pretty well.

The pleats need to be pressed out and re-done; I arranged them for Shannon's figure, not my own.
I think I'm not quite the right shape for late '40s styles - they're very straight up and down and I'm a little curvier, so it's perhaps not the most flattering dress on me.  But it's a comfortable dress so I'll keep wearing it!


Also featured: a vintage hat from Pam, one of my dear church ladies from Jackson, and the cowl I just knit for my Etsy shop.  (Find it here!)

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Lessons Learned (and a scarf in the shop)

This week is not one I'd care to repeat any time soon (or ever.)  But I think I've learned some lessons... so here they are, interspersed with photos of the latest item in the shop.


They always tell you to keep records of your money - what you spend and what you earn.  Do this.

If you don't do this, you will end up with an overdrawn bank account.

As if you're not poor enough already when you've overdrawn your account, the bank will then charge you a fee for doing so.


When you buy a car, first thing you should do is run (don't walk) to the hardware store and get an extra key made.  Or possibly three.

I didn't do this.


If you don't do this, don't lock your keys in your car.

I did do that.


If you're going to lock your keys in the car, don't pick the coldest night of the winter so far on which to do it.

And don't lock your keys in the car the week your bank account is overdrawn and you've used all your free service calls from AAA.


However, if and when all of this happens, it's nice to have a father who is willing to talk you through trying to jimmy a lock (with a knitting needle), phone AAA to try to persuade them to give you another free call, and when all else fails, gives you permission to use the parental credit card to pay the locksmith and just pay him back when you get money next week.

So yes.  From now on I'm pretty sure I'll be a lot more careful about how much I spend, and about keeping track of my money!  And the first thing I'm planning to do when I get my paycheck is run and get copies of my car key.


(Scarf: 8" wide by 7.5' long, not counting fringe.  Extremely soft acrylic yarn in scarlet and gold.  Based on the Gryffindor scarves from Harry Potter movies 1 and 2.  On sale in the shop!)

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Best Potato Pancakes


I think this is a first, two recipes in one week!  All my craft projects are in states of not-quite-finished-ness, so nothing much to blog about on that front.  Neither of these is very recipe-ish -- my cooking tends to be rather inexact and spur-of-the-moment.  However, here's my method for potato pancakes.  These are one of my very favourite things to make for breakfast - or really any other time of day!  I like savoury breakfast foods and these are perfect.
I may have gone a wee bit overboard with the butter.
You want to start with mashed potatoes.  One medium/large potato is plenty for a single person, so just multiply according to how many you're cooking for.  You can use leftover mashed potatoes (the easiest way) or, as I did with these, microwave a potato until cooked, then add in milk, butter, salt and pepper to taste, just as you would for regular mashed potatoes.  When you have your mash how you like it, add in a sprinkle of parsley, and mix in an egg.  (You don't need an egg per person.  If you're only doing one potato, still use a whole egg, but after that it's about one egg per two servings.)

Melt some butter in a skillet (or I suppose you could use oil or bacon fat as well, but I love the taste of butter!)  Drop in dollops of potato mash and let cook until golden brown on one side.  These burn easily so keep an eye on them -- but don't try to flip too early or they'll fall apart.  They still taste fine but they look a bit of a mess!  Flip over, flatten down a little bit, and cook until done.


Top with more butter, and salt and pepper if needed.  They're good with a sprinkle of cheese too!  I like to make these and a fruit smoothie for a really filling breakfast or a light dinner.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Fruit Crumble

I've been hearing a lot lately about how eating wheat isn't that great for people, especially those who struggle with blood sugar levels.  Obviously that's a big concern for me, so I thought I would experiment with cutting out wheat for a while and see if it helps.

This is sort of difficult.  If you know me, or if you've followed my blog for a while, you'll know I make a lot of breads.... pastas... desserts.  Especially desserts.  Bread and pasta can kind of be replaced by rice and potatoes, but what about sweets?

Well, fruit is good.  (So is fudge.  Someone tell me to step away from the fudge!)  I had a lot of frozen fruit from this past summer, as well as a few apples, so I experimented with the classic fruit cobbler/crisp/crumble/whatever-you-like-to-call-it, and came up with this.



Mixed-Fruit Crumble

1 apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 cup other fruits, fresh or frozen (I used about equal amounts of sliced frozen peaches and strawberries, and some blueberries
1 T lemon juice
2/3 c. oats, approximately
1/8 c. sugar (brown or white, or even try honey?)
3 T butter
1/2 tsp salt (or 1 tsp kosher salt, which is what I did)
1/4 tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg

Prepare your fruit, pour lemon juice over top, and place in a smallish oven-safe dish.  In a food processor (or probably a blender would work too), whiz up the oats for a while until most are in very small pieces. (This won't be as fine as flour, and there will probably be some bits left mostly whole.  That's okay.  The texture is sort of like grits.)  Add in the remaining ingredients and process until the butter is cut in and the mixture starts to stick together.  Pour/press this over the top of your fruit, pop in a 375F oven for 45 minutes*, until the fruit is soft and bubbling and the topping is golden.  Pull out, let cool until it will no longer burn your tastebuds off, and then serve with whipped cream or simply milk or cream poured over the top.  Yummy, and healthy!

Well.  Less healthy once you put this much whipped cream on it.  It's just the angle of the photo, I promise!

*I have to admit I forgot to set a timer.  I just baked it for as long as it took to watch the next episode of Doctor Who...

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Full Bloom


 Amaryllis in full bloom.

I have two of these beauties in my windowsill, with one more still to come later.


The translucent beauty of their petals in the sunlight is mesmerising.