Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Smith Island Cake!

I have this fascination with the things that get designated state so-and-so's. For example, Maryland, the state drink - is milk. Now I like milk. (Goes great in tea!) But honestly, Maryland, to my knowledge, is not a particularly large milk producer. I don't think Marylanders drink more milk than other people. But hey, they can make their drink whatever they want.
Well, now Maryland has an official dessert. Yes, as referenced in the title it is the Smith Island cake, which was apparently conceived by original settlers in Maryland.
I am not going to wonder overlong, how my relative proximity to Maryland, my even living in Maryland for several years, I somehow missed the memo on the Smith Island cake. But it is an eight to ten layer cake with frosting separating the layers. The yellow cake with chocolate seems to be considered the standard, but clearly in the last few hundred years, there have been several variations.
I tend to be one of the people that eats around the frosting, but this frosting sounds pretty good. Hmmm. Maybe I'll be doing some baking.

Info about Maryland stuff here.
The Smith Island website has a recipe here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

Books: Enlightenment for Idiots

I received an ARC of Enlightenment for Idiots: A NovelIt was possibly bad timing to start this story just after listening to the Will Write for Wine podcast about goal and motivation. See, Amanda has sort of fallen into each job by accident almost (which I actually might resemble a bit). And Amanda grew up with a mother who got burned by her first love (Amanda's dad). So, finding a globe traveling commitment-averse guy for a boyfriend, is well, not a huge shock. I am a firm believer in a phenomenon Jodie Foster once spoke of: that the pattern of your life is often only visible in retrospect. However, I have my limits.
After two weeks (which is an insane amount of time for me, I am a fast reader), I am only halfway through.
See, Amanda decides to split (again) with the commitment-averse guy because, well, she really kinda wants commitment. Or at least monogamy. And she accepts a job to write a guide about enlightentment (hence the title) especially since it involves a trip to India. And she sort of picks up a scraggly guy in India (traveling companion only, so far). And she goes to places various people suggest - fellow travelers, taxi drivers, other yoginis. But, Amanda makes very few decisions or plans. She's blown by the wind a lot. And I recognize that this is her journey right now, but I am apparently not in the right frame of mind to read about a decision-averse character. It's a shame, because I really like the writing style. I just can't get into the story right now.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Money, Money

It is quite surreal experience, but I got money in the mail today. Not a check, not a gift card, but actual cash. And it's not my birthday. I won't detail the reasons overmuch, but I am participating in a survey voluntarily, and this was sent to me as a token of appreciation, for my time. It was a teeny amount, enough for a plain tea at Starbucks, not a chai. And yet, since it was unexpected (and surreal) I am quite thrilled.

Pretty Yarn #3

I don't know what it is about the Farmhouse Yarns stuff - I always seem to end up with some. But tell me - could you leave this sitting there?
Famrhouse Yarns Andy's Merico
In fact, as I carried it around the shop one person tried to steal it, and another needed directions to the right shelf (it was a little busy in there).
I have this theory that if I could find a way to utilize yarn in my decor (shadowboxes maybe) it could be like those people who have seasonal knickknacks - mine could just be yarn that doesn't have a project yet.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

April Yarn

My April stash club yarn is Live 2 Knit's Joan Sock Yarn (superwash Merino). My colorway is Alchemy.
IMG_0796

Monday, April 21, 2008

More Review Ranting

Yes, I know. I once again want to state for the record that everyone has the absolute right to feel or write whatever they want about a book. And I can only imagine how hard it would be to be an author to watch people put negative reviews about your books on a widely used website. And certainly as an author, your opinion of your book, is as valid as anyone else's. But to give yourself a five star review stating, "Hey, it's my book and I like it," makes it look like your just trying to boost the stars. Certainly as an author it would not be good form to start a flame war or even a discussion about the book in a product review format. (And apparently some authors have done that, so I guess this is better.) But I don't know - something still seems weird about it. Perhaps I should be thrilled. After all the person was totally up front about who they were. Certainly it wouldn't be a huge stretch to imagine someone at some point in time has a created a handle that disguised their identity so they could go give their books a good review. And yes, I do sometimes wonder why I even read these things.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

If You Don't Want Change

The thing I find fascinating about makeover shows - for both people and places - is the number of people that participate and yet think that not much will change. Now, for the purposes of today I am excluding shows where you are surprised and only talking about shows such as "Trading Spaces" or "How Do I Look?"* or "Restaurant Makeover".
Now I recognize that part of this is the process, after all people do not intentionally dress badly or design their room or space badly. But once you have agreed that it is time for a change - well, it's time for a change. And part of that hook of these shows is that the change is, well, different. If it was just a coat of paint or a haircut - well, you wouldn't need a show for that. And as with the rest of life, when other people are giving you money to do stuff, you lose control - they get input. Or, with most of these shows, they get to decide it all, and you get to live with it. I understand that it's all easy for me to say this from my couch, but, still. And of course I am sure they edit it to make the contributers look more worried because people who are relaxed and happy are not generally considered good TV for some reason.

*I know some people on "How Do I Look?" are nominated by others, but the subject agrees so the show starts after they have agreed to participate.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

March Yarn

I picked up the March stash club yarn in person (which is part of why you see so much stash growth since some other yarn ended up in the bag.) It is Kollage Organic Cotton - Hope - undyed cotton. I saw somewhere on Ravelry suggestions for tea dying which may be a great idea. If I use it to make a bag (the accompanying pattern), well, it wouldn't stay this pretty for long.
IMG_0795

Monday, April 14, 2008

FCS 3 Swap

Well, as always I got a fabulous swap package. My first hint that I was being spoiled was when I opened my favorite color swap box and saw this...
FCS 3 Swap Box
In the box were:
Noro, Noro, Noro. (Really I do appreciate other yarns too. But still. How can Noro not make you happy.)
Some lovely Sugar N Creme. (How did she know I was running low?)
Chocolate (Mocha Ganache and a truffle bar which sound decadent.)
A book. (A fat book even).
A Yarn Cutter.
Needle protectors.
FCS 3 Swag
I am a very happy camper. Thanks, 3grrlsknit!

Pretty Yarn #2

Yeah, so, continuing what some might call a yarn buying binge of sorts, I happened upon a sale at the LYS (totally by accident I assure you).
And, since knitting progress is boring right now (up to seven repeats on the Parthenope, trying to focus most of my knitting energy there, so even less progress on other things) let's talk yarn!
Noro Silk Garden lite
Look at all the pretty Noro (Silk Garden lite)! Despite the fact that it looks like I did my crazy color matching thing - nope these are in fact all the same colorway. (2014, if you are interested.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Happy Belated Bobmas!

Happy Bobmas!
No, it's not a UU holiday (per se), it's a holiday celebrating the birth of Ravelry. I was in a swap where one participant asked - should they be on Ravelry. Well, to each his/her own, but let me say here are eight things Ravelry has helped me do.
1. Make friends. I have found stitch groups in my neighborhood - some started only with Ravelers. (This is not to say that non-Ravelers can't join, it is to say that the networking provided by Ravelry allowed us to get a core group going.)
2. Find all sorts of knitting (and crocheting)sub-groups - stitching UUs, stitching readers, stitching football fans, and so on. Or even just throw something out into a more specific ether (there was a thread all about SSKs just the other day.)
3. Organize my stuff. Sure you can flash your stash on your blog (and I do - more to come). But my blog doesn't put it in this neat category where I can track how many and what dyelot and stuff like that. I can also track needle sizes and
4.Track needle sizes. It even prints out in a pretty list, shouldone need to shop for more. You can also track books.
5.Track Projects. Of course this now means all sorts of people know I am working on a lot of things. It also helps inspire me to finish some.
6. Track future projects. Oh - the queue. Let me tell you, I used to just do bookmarks. But that got nuts, so I organized the bookmarks into folders. But it is so much easier to scroll through a list with pictures than clicking each bookmark trying to find that thing I wanted to make - you know, the one with yarn?
7. Look at what other people have done with a pattern. We all know that sometimes you look at the picture that accompanies a pattern and you just don't know. There's something you like, but you hate the yarn, or the yarn color, or you can't afford that yarn or whatever. So - in the old days - you did a search and hoped you didn't just get a bunch of blog posts about people thinking of making it. But now - now, I can look through and see all these different people. People who made it with different yarn, or a different collar or who found out that there was errata or - all sorts of things.
8. Look at what other people have done with a yarn. It happens to us all. You see a skein and it calls to you. And then you get home and you look at it, and you have no idea what to do with this yarn. You've never knit lace weight or with bamboo or chunky yarn. Why did you buy it? But it's so pretty. You feel it deserves more than to just sit on a shelf (not that there's anything wrong with that). Well, thanks to Ravelry I can scroll through other people's projects and get ideas. Or do something completely different, but at least I have ideas.
So, thanks Ravelry. And thanks, Casey and Jess and Bob! You have brought me organization and community and that's just the coolest thing. (See you at Sheep and Wool!)
For local folks, the DC/MD/VA official Bobmas celebration will be next week. Keep an eye out.

Brain Space

I heard once on the radio*, they were talking about how in the eighties there was that whole period of urban flight. And then some of the folks that moved out to the suburbs decided to move back since they were spending all their time commuting. But after they moved back, their stress levels were still high. And it turned out that they lost that time alone - the commute - that one period of every day where they were away from the immediate demands of others (except the other commuters).
I am a born multi-tasker. I tend to have rows of programs open when I work - and I am only marginally better when not working. I read during commercials and knit during the show.
And yet - as many say - I often come up with great ideas in the shower. So, possibly, if I give my brain enough space, I actually work better. Instead of thinking I am better an more productive for doing part of two (or six things), I could do one thing - or nothing for a bit.

*My googling skills were not able to turn up any supporting documentation, so make of that what you will.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

More Harlot

The Yarn Harlot was in Annapolis last night and I was there. (I can just feel my cool quotient expanding.) I got there about six and snagged some chairs across the atrium from where the Harlot would be standing. (Turns out the speaker was kind of obscuring the view, but it was fine. In fact, if you have great eyesight and check the picture on her blog, I am the person in the first Annapolis picture who is taking of picture of the pictures.)
The Yarn Harlot photographs the crowd
The Harlot talked about losing her luggage in Atlanta, but how - using the measure of naked in Calgary as the low point - still better.
The Harlot talked about how when people discover you are a knitter it befuddles them because knitters fail to fall into neat categories, despite people's attempts to force them to. And that as humans we like things in definable categories. She mentioned this also is what drives a lot of knitting and yarn retailers to drink since no matter what you offer, about half the knitters are bound to tell you it is crap.
The Harlot spoke of studies proving that repetitive actions make you smarter, happier and better able to handle stress. One study in particular mentioned that they weren't sure what to do with this since it supposedly (they said) would not be practical to carry around "emergency knitting".
She talked about her friend Denny knitting in a doctor's office and having another person tell her that she was glad she had never been bored enough to knit. Denny responded that she was grateful she knit, since it kept her from being so bored that she insulted strangers.
I was number 168 in line and waited happily knitting away (Parthenope still, I'm being fairly loyal so far and have made it to the second skein). The harlot complimented my nutty Greenjeans, which I will possibly be mentioning to people for some time. I met lovely people while waiting and listening and in line - none of who's names I remember. (But all of you - lovely.) I do recall a lovely princess child who was just a bit ahead in line, and she will likely make a blog appearance, so we'll hold out for that.
Yarn Harlot - can see the end of the signing line
And, as always, when surrounded by knitters, I learned something amazing. The Fibre Company has a stand at Sheep and Wool. In my blitzkrieg approach last year I missed a lot of things - but this is the one that has cemented for me that no matter how much I think I have enough yarn (for a while) - still must go to Sheep and Wool.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Go Caps!

The Caps have not only made it to the playoffs, but they have executed
the biggest turnaround in NHL history.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Fifth Graders are Smart

Oh the muttering in Paleobiology staff at the Smithsonian. Apparently a notation on the Tower of Time in the Museum of Natural History mistakenly references the Precambrian era. And yet the notation has remained since the tower was placed in 1981.
But, a fifth grader noticed the issue and brought it to the attention of museum staff. Kenton Stufflebeam got a letter back from the museum, indicating that he was correct and that they would likely remove the word era from the tower. Sadly, the letter spelled his name wrong.

PS - Thanks to the friend who passed this story on to me.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Knitting and...

I am a multi tasker. I sometimes have trouble doing just one thing. My father could not understand how my sister and I could get any studying done with all that loud music. When our school had us take a test to determine our dominant learning style, my sister and I both tested haptic or kinesthetic. One of the suggestions for haptic learners was listening to music while studying. My father was so annoyed by this (clearly not a kinesthetic learner himself) he called to school to see what they were trying to do. This is not to suggest my father did not want us to learn, it was that it was so foreign to his way of studying, that he could not wrap his head around it. He may have been a little sick of the music too.
At knit night last night, there was talk that a politician's spouse had whipped out knitting during her spouse's speechmaking and that people were annoyed. (Non-knitters one imagines, although if the ravelry knitting in church thread is any indication, perhaps not.) Now - first - she may listen better if her hand are occupied. I do. I am much better on conference calls if I can knit. Second - one has to imagine she has heard the speech before. Third - if she had whipped out a blackberry, one has to imagine that folks would not have minded so much - and yet - she could be playing solitaire on that blackberry for all we know.
I wonder if, because in this day and age knitting is no longer a necessity and so is considered frivolous, people resent the spouse doing something fun while they are trying to listen. I will give these folks the benefit of the doubt and assume that they, like my father, are differently-abled listeners, and so, are currently unable to understand that some of us listen better while knitting, rather than tuning everything out while knitting.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Insurance Giggles

When working on some of the more mundane benefits related tasks, I sometimes struggle to find things that make it - well - less mundane. So thanks to those of you who designate yourself as the beneficiary for your life insurance because (while recognizing the you were likely understandably confused by the terminology) this never ceases to amuse me.
And for those who might still be wondering the beneficiary is the term for the person(s) to whom your life insurance payout would go, in the event you pass away. So, sadly, you will not be around to enjoy this, much as you might wish to be. I also find twisted joy in the people who have a $5,000 policy and divide it between eight people. Since one assumes that part of what these people need to do is pay for your funeral - that $600 a piece, while very generous of you, is not going to help them much.
Yes, it is a good thing I don't believe in hell.