February 28, 2010

OMG, my eyes!

So after a marathon weekend of knitting, watching TV and some occasional reading (gotta finish the book for book club this week), this is how my vision looks ...

Seriously, I think that's Miles, but it may be Louie. I think my eyes are going to fall out.

Here's a fun kind of flugelbinder that hubby and YD picked up at the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament. And let me just get it out of my system once and for all how ridiculously awful that name is. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!

It's a cardboard box ...

No, it's actually a handy dandy ...

collapsible chair to carry around with you in case there's a lull in the action at the golf tournament.

Gosh, I hope that didn't sound sarcastic!

Knitting and TV Watching

I've had the house pretty much to myself this weekend and have been happily knitting myself into a coma while "holding the remote control" and laughing like a mad woman. Let me say first that I have not felt compelled to tune into the Olympics even once. It's been Lifetime, the Food Network, A & E and true crime shows. This morning I watched "The Net," which is an older Sandra Bullock movie where she plays a computer nerd whose identity is stolen through the computer. She is drawn into murder and mayhem and no one will believe her. This is very similar to the Jeffrey Deaver book I read recently, "The Broken Window." Good and scary stuff!

Since I took the Funky Footsies knitting class, I have been on a mission to single-handedly pump out cozy chunky socks. Somebody stop me!

I started with a turquoise pair that I gave to a friend when we met for lunch last week. Bless her heart, she loves to receive handmade stuff and promptly whipped off her shoe, put on her sock, threw her leg up on the table and posed for a picture in the restaurant. Another pair went to the Granddaughter because purple is her favorite color of the moment.

YD requested a pair in charcoal gray with no frou frou stuff on top. If I did not know for certain that the only 9 pound 3 ounce baby in the nursery was mine the day she was born, I would think she'd been switched at birth.

And a pair for a neighbor who is going through a serious health crisis ...

I just love the decorative yarns in the tops of these socks. Unfortunately, I don't think they're available any longer -- I've had them for some time and pulled them out of my stash.

I was visiting some of my favorite knitting blogs yesterday and as I read Mason-Dixon Knitting, I saw that they're making these adorable little Knitted Neck Scarves. I've seen them pictured before, but never had a pattern. They offered this link to the pattern on the Martha Stewart Living website. Of course, I immediately had to start one. After again raiding my stash, I'm using a sport weight baby yarn that has a sparkly thread running through it as a test run.

It's a very simple pattern and the little pocket that you knit into the scarf to pull the end through is ingenious!

To make it all even more cozy, along with the non-stop knitting and temporary ownership of the remote control, it has rained constantly. Everything from a little drizzle to the roof pounding kind that strains the palm trees and makes the dogs stare out into the darkness and growl. Kinda nice, kinda creepy!

February 27, 2010

Next In Line, PLEASE

Okay, I haven't ranted in a while ... and it's time.

Every retail store out there should train their checkers that when they open a new check stand, they should GO GET the next person in line and walk them over to their line.

I have been to Michael's, Hobby Lobby and PetSmart recently, standing in line when a new check stand opened. Every time, shoppers who haven't been waiting in line at all have walked right up and into the new line, getting checked out and leaving the store before those of us still standing in line. It is so frustrating. And even more frustrating is the fact that when I (or someone else in line) mentions it, they don't really seem to care.

Kudos to Joann's craft store for doing this correctly! They have a single line entrance into their area of check stands so it's always fair and they treat their customers right. Michael's, Hobby Lobby and PetSmart need to go back to customer service training school and initiate some new store policies. That is, if they really care about providing good customer service to all of their customers.

I have previously owned and operated a retail store so I have been on both sides of this issue. I would be more than happy to discuss this with any retail store manager or owner out there. Leave a comment and let's talk ...

February 26, 2010

Reading "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

Our book club chose a book by Stieg Larsson for March -- "The Girl Who Played With Fire." Since it is a sequel to his first book, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," I decided to buy them both and read them before our March meeting, which was a challenge because they're substantial and I only had a couple of weeks.

I picked up Dragon Tattoo in trade paperback size. It was "translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland" and the translation was published in 2008.

Information on the author:

Stieg Larsson, who lived in Sweden, was the editor in chief of the magazine "Expo" and a leading expert on antidemocratic right-wing extremist and Nazi organizations. He died of a heart attack in 2004, shortly after delivering the manuscripts for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," The Girl Who Played with Fire" and the third novel in the series, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest."

I had trouble getting into Dragon Tattoo until about the fourth chapter (page 69 of 590). Then I could not put it down. I think at first it was all the Swedish names -- people and places -- which I found confusing. The main character is Mikael Blomkvist, a financial journalist who specializes in exposing corporate crooks in his publication "Millennium." He writes an article on industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerstrom and, due to unfortunate circumstances, cannot substantiate his claims or sources. Blomkvist is indicted on libel charges, sentenced to a fine and a few months in prison.

He has decided to take some time off and distance himself from the business, leaving his partner to run Millennium, when he is contacted by Henrik Vanger, patriarch of a prominent, wealthy family. Vanger offers him a 2-part freelance assignment: research and write a book on the history of the Vanger family and -- secretively -- investigate and solve the disappearance of 16-year-old Harriet Vanger 36 years ago. Although her body was never found, Vanger believes that she was murdered and has become consumed by the mystery.

Lisbeth Salander, the actual girl with the dragon tattoo, is a personal investigator for Milton Security who becomes embroiled in the Vanger investigation with Blomkvist. She has a strange, sad background and leads a solitary life, but has incredible research talents.

Stieg Larsson 1954-2004
Telling any more of the story would just be a spoiler, although I will say there are some extremely x-rated, as well as violent, situations in this book so if you're the least bit squeamish, this isn't for you. The solving of the mystery and the plot in general were great and, yay, I was able to immediately pick up Played With Fire and keep reading. The same characters, Blomkvist and Salander, continue on in this book. I'm looking forward to reading the third in the series and am saddened that this talented author passed away at such a young age.


February 23, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - What is this antique dish called?

I'm sorry this isn't wordless, but I'm trying to figure out what this antique serving set is called so I can do a search on it. There are 6 individual cobalt glass dishes that fit onto a silver tray. There are no markings. I sent pictures to an antique dealer, but they told me to buy their book and look it up. I would if I knew what it was called. Haven't been able to find anything like it doing searches for cobalt glass or silver serving trays. Anybody?

Wordless Wednesday

What's Cookin' - Chicken en Papillote

We had a small dinner party Saturday night and I was looking for something creative to serve. I remembered a recipe that I haven't made for a while, but is so easy and healthy and delicious!

Chicken en Papillote is from the "Colorado Collage" cookbook published by the Junior League of Denver in 1995. This is a beautiful cookbook and there are a number of them available on eBay if you're interested.

Our guests were arriving as we were still putting this meal together and it is so simple, we were able to visit while we chopped and prepared and wrapped up these cute little packages. I wish I had a photo to post but, believe me, this is a fun dish that everyone enjoys.

Chicken en Papillote basically means chicken in paper. You need to have good quality parchment paper to wrap each serving in. I used a light weight brand once and the chicken juices soaked through the bottom and tore the parchment. We made a big pot of white rice to serve over and some crescent rolls. Yes, the Pillsbury crescent rolls from the can that YD calls crack because they're so addictive.

Because we're big fans of mushrooms, we also threw in some creminis. The beauty of this dish is you can really substitute any vegetable you like. While I haven't tried it, I'm sure you could use other meats such as pork chops or tenderloin or salmon. People enjoy unwrapping their own little bundles of meat and veggies so it's part of the entertainment, too.

February 22, 2010

The After Bath

Miles with bath head ...

Just because they're so darn cute after their baths and act so crazy, here's Miles and Louie ...

February 18, 2010

Funky Footsies and King Cake

I absolutely loved taking the knitting class with my BIL and learning how to knit socks. These are the big, bulky socks on size 13 needles that are for sittin' around feeling cozy in. The class ran 2 hours on 2 nights. Here is what I had done after my first class ...

Understanding the construction of the sock, turning the heel, learning all the little tricks was so great. Plus our instructor, Marti, was fun and made everything simple. And my other classmates were a hoot. One conversation during our first class was about everyone's favorite cuss words while knitting. I think we all laughed 'til we cried. There was a class going on in another room, but we were the rowdy bunch. This is the first knitting class I've ever taken and I really enjoyed the camaraderie.

So here are my completed Funky Footsies on my feet ...

I love 'em, I love 'em, I love 'em!

We had a fun surprise on our doorstep yesterday ...

... a FedEx package from Louisiana. YD's BF is home visiting family this week and sent us a King Cake to celebrate Mardis Gras!

It is like a delicious giant cinnamon roll covered in icing and sugar crystals. And it came complete with Mardis Gras beads and babies. You can read about the History of Mardis Gras and King Cakes at MardisGrasDay.com. Thanks, YDBF, for a wonderful treat!!!

February 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy Birthday, Mom!
Hope your day is
Love you bunches!

February 15, 2010

What's Cookin' - Bowtie Pasta

YD requested my 5-ingredient Bowtie Pasta dish for our family dinner last Thursday night. It is so easy and so delicious!

Bowtie Pasta

12-oz. package wheat bowtie pasta

4 cups diced cooked ham

14-oz. canned sliced mushrooms

1 cup frozen peas

1 jar white sauce (whatever you like; we used Bertolli Garlic Alfredo this time)


Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions. While it's cooking, dice the ham, open and drain the mushrooms, measure out all the ingredients. Once the pasta has cooked, put it in a colander or strainer to drain.

Put the same pot back on medium heat and toss in the mushrooms and ham. Let it heat up for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; add the frozen peas and heat some more. Then add the white sauce and stir it in. Finally, put the pasta from the colander in and stir it all together. Once it's heated through, you're ready to serve!

You can have this dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes (depending on how long it takes your water to boil :) ). It makes a pretty good sized pot of pasta. I would say we get 8 good bowls from this recipe. It also freezes nicely.


The prior Thursday, YD's BF offered to make and bring dinner and dessert because he wanted to give me a night off! Is that the sweetest thing you've ever heard? He tapped into his Southern roots and brought Jambalaya, garlic bread and a bar cookie called 8-in-1. What a nice treat. It was really delicious ... and they even did the dishes!

February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Hope you all spend time with people you love ...
doing things you love ...
in a place you love!

Happy Anniversary to my sister and her sweetie pie!!!

February 13, 2010

Chocolate Affaire

Last Saturday, we attended the 15th Annual Chocolate Affaire festival in Glendale, Arizona. Hubby and I went with YD and her BF and, let me tell you, you could actually smell chocolate in the air. We went late in the morning so we could -- as hubby said -- have lunch, eat a bunch of crap, then have the rest of the day to throw up. While nobody blew, we all consumed our fair share. Between the four of us, we bought fry bread tacos, chicken strips, sweet potato fries, caramel apples, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate dipped pretzels, caramel pecan clusters, peanut clusters and root beer floats. Some of it we took home for later. ;-)

Since downtown Glendale is a historic district with tons of antique shops, we did a little browsing.

We had some blue skies, some overcast and a few sprinkles of raindrops here and there. Once we left the festival, we stopped at the Cerreta Candy factory and took the tour. I have never seen so much chocolate in my life! The equipment was amazing. It was a fun little tour to take.

I'm almost embarrassed to say that after this wonderful day of chocolate indulgence, we went out for Mexican food. Yum!

Here are some photos ...