Thursday, December 27, 2007

If, for whatever reason, I am not regularly going to work, I tend to completely lose track of the days. I was completely convinced that I would be leaving for Chicago today until I woke up this morning and realized that is not the case at all. I really thought today was going to be Friday until I realized that is not possible. Oh well, extra day for me! I guess I can get the cleaning and knitting done that hasn't yet, or I could just play my new video games.

Ok, so my goals today are to finish the sleeves of Wicked and block it so I can wear it to Wicked. I also want to get my cousin's and uncle's hats done, which wouldn't be a problem if I could just seam them correctly. I had to rip both of them out already. I also need to clean the kitchen, living room, and bathroom, which shouldn't be too bad, so Josh doesn't get stuck with a dirty apartment and company coming over. OUr place has been a mess the last couple of weeks and we have been lazy. Not a good combination.

Just so you aren't completely without pictures of my holidays.

I took this picture after we had a laughing fit while my mom was trying to take a picture of us to send to my aunt. She's making a calendar of the grandkids for my grandma. This was the best pic we got. According to my mom we kept making weird faces.

Monday, December 24, 2007

With thanks to DFly, I finally got some decent pics of the ring. She reminded me of a little used feature on my camera for taking detailed shots! Thanks!

Sorry they aren't the greatest.

As for my baking exploits over the weekend, there were quite a few.

First off, no-knead bread. You can't not love bread that takes about 10 minutes of hands-on time.

Molasses cookies

Shortbread with cashews

Almond coffee cake

Savory parmesan shortbread

and cinnamon rolls for breakfast tomorrow

I still want to make something else, but I should probably shower before heading to my mom's. She might appreciate that. Oh! I should pack too.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sorry, no ring

My camera is incapable of taking a picture of my ring. I think it's too shiny and small for it to focus on it. Someday I will have a nice camera; not my 4 year old cheap thing.

I will give you some other crappy pics though. I can't get any decent light due to the fog and clouds.

Pattern: Unoriginal Hat
Yarn: Cascade Pastaza #4544; held double
Needles: 6.5mm Knit Picks circs
Mods: Added a purl stitch to the end of each pattern repeat

Pattern: Peekaboo Mittens
Yarn: Cascade Pastaza #4554
Needles: 4.5mm Knit Picks dpns

I would say the pic of the hat has a more accurate depiction of the color, but neither are quite right. I am messing with the sleeves on Wicked so they will fit how I want. I want more fitted sleeves than the pattern calls for.

I made a batch of no-knead bread last night but followed Cook's Illustrated's instructions and added beer. It rose much better than my first attempt, but I think that has more to do with the yeast than the beer. I think Josh has requested some chicken and wild rice soup so the bread should go nicely with it. Tomorrow I am attempting cinnamon rolls so I can bring some home for Christmas to share with my mom and sis. Today I plan to make some savory shortbread cookies and something else. Something sweet. Probably molasses cookies for my sister and maybe the peanut butter filled chocolate ones again.

Our hallway smells weird again. Yesterday when I got home it smelled like moth balls and chili or something similar. Now it smells like dirty diapers. Lovely. I know the people downstairs have a baby or toddler, but I am not sure what they are doing with their diapers. I think they must leave them in the hall for awhile before taking them to the dumpster.

I am heading home on Christmas Eve and then to Chicago on the 27th. Apparenlty I may have to sing a duet with my sister at our Christmas Eve service. I don't even know the song yet! Anyway, you may not hear much from me during that time because I am not sure if I will have access to a computer. I want to have Wicked done so I can wear it to Wicked so I better get to work.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Two days of work...

and then I am leaving again. I like that. We got back Tuesday night and spent yesterday recovering. I was so exhausted from all the driving and not sleeping well in uncomfortable beds that I needed a vacation day after my vacation.

It was nice to see our friends again. While there we played video games, watched movies, played with puppies, got engaged, had fondue, and went to an aquarium. It was fun if exhausting. I also did quite a bit of knitting and reading and playing with my new computer.

Did I mention Josh and I are engaged? He completely surprised me with it and he is very proud of that fact. I will give him credit since he took one of my rings to a jeweler to get it sized while I was out of town and spent several months doing research. I will go into more details later which may include a pic of the ring if I can get a decent one. Now I have to do some work.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

When I left Iowa it was snowing, barely, but snow nonetheless. When I arrived in Virginia it was 50 degrees and sunny, before the sun set. It was a two day drive but Josh did most of it because I was tired and kept getting headaches. I believe that is partly due to the fact that I am near-sighted and according to my appointment on Wednesday, I am finally at the point where I need glasses for more than just lectures in large lecture halls.

Josh and I are in Yorktown, VA visiting a friend and his family. Josh wanted to go to a couple breweries while we were here, but that hasn't happened. They have all been playing video games and I have been sitting here messing with the computer and knitting mittens. Maybe we will do something tomorrow. They are taking us out for dinner at a fondue place which should be fun. The bed we are sleeping in is not doing my neck any good and neither are the hotel beds, so I will be visiting the chiro and picking out glasses before I leave for Christmas. Today has been all about the wireless guitar we gave the kids for Guitar Hero. They haven't fought over it yet, just the songs they were trying to play.

I have got a lot of knitting done. I also finished the book that was stressing me out. Great book, I just got a little too involved. That always happens to me. Anyway, I am almost done with the Peekaboo Mittens. I need to add the sleeves to Wicked. I also finished another Calorimetry, which I just gave to the recipient. I forgot to get a pic before gifting it though.

I have also been playing with puppies. Our friends dogs had 3 puppies a few weeks ago. They are so tiny, and they aren't able to walk yet. They are really good at scooting backwards. I think they plan on selling the puppies and having their dogs breed again later and try to sell those puppies as well. they aren't a breed of dog I would enjoy having myself, but the puppies are adorable.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I usually don't remember much about my dreams. If I do, the details are definitely lacking. The last couple of mornings I have woken around 5am, looked at the clock and gone back to sleep. During that last hour and I half before my alarm goes off I have had similar dreams. Yesterday morning I dreamt that I was going to my class in which I was supposed to give a presentation on my current research project. The problem was I forgot to bring my iPod which I had saved my presentation to. I went back to the lab to grab it, got distracted by something and rushed back to class. Once I got there I realized I had forgotten my iPod again. I tried two more times to bring my iPod with me before I woke up. This morning's dream was similar, but instead of presenting I was going to my eye exam. In this case I forgot to get off the bus at the right stop or something like that. The details are fuzzy.

A few nights ago I had been working on a red cabled hat before I went to bed. I mis-crossed the cables in the last row, but was too tired to fix it at the time so I went to bed. It must have bothered me more than I thought because I had trouble falling asleep and kept waking myself up because I was dreaming of cables in red yarn.

Well, I did make it to my eye exam this morning and I was a half hour early because I couldn't remember what time I had scheduled it for. It looks like it's time to get some glasses. I am near sighted and if I drive for long periods of time, especially at night, I get headaches. Luckily I can get by without them for the most part, but I think I will appreciate them for driving. Since I have extra money in my health care spending account, I think some prescription sunglasses may be in order as well. Maybe I can squeeze in a massage this year too!

I may not seem like it, but I think I am a romantic at heart. At least when it comes to fiction. It's kind of silly because I will occasionally have to force myself to read the book if it's not going the way I think it should. If the two characters, who I know love each other for some reason aren't going to get together I get a little distressed. Why? I have no idea. I usually overcome this and continue the book after awhile, but for a little while I can't stand the thought. I am a dork. I guess it's probably a good thing I never got into romance novels.

I am totally in the mood for soup. On Sunday I made beer cheese soup. a little oniony but had good flavor otherwise. Last night I made white cheddar and potato soup. It was so good and a great way to make a dent in my potato stash. I am going to write my recipe here so I don't forget it.

White Cheddar Potato Soup

Servings: 3-5 depending on who is eating it.

1lb potatoes cut into 3/4" cubes or as close to cubes as you can get them
1/2 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced or pressed through a garlic press
3 tbl of butter or olive oil ( I did a combo because I didn't add enough butter initially)
3 tbl flour
3 c low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 c white wine (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried parsley
3/4 c half and half, whole milk or some cream (I would use less cream)
I think condensed milk would work fairly well if going for a lower fat version
1 cup shredded white cheddar ( I used 50% fat free because it's what I had on hand)
salt and pepper to taste

1. In 4-5 qt pan on medium heat add oil. When oil is shimmering add onion, carrots, garlic and celery. Cook until soft, 7-10 minutes

2. Sprinkle flour over the veggies and stir a lot. Cook for another minute.

3. Pour in chicken broth, wine (if using), bay leaves, parsley and tarragon. Bring to a simmer and add potatoes. Cook with lid on for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.

4. Stir in half and half and return to a simmer.

5. Turn heat to low and slowly add the cheese while stirring constantly.

6. Remove bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Best served with crusty bread and a big glass of milk, in my opinion.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I am completely baffled. The university has canceled classes due to the weather. The last time this happened was when we had a tornado the night before. I attended or worked at the university since 2001 and and this has never happened. Funny thing is, I am supposed to have a class this afternoon. I am supposed to give a presentation in it. Classes are even canceled on the medical campus, which, since it is associated with the hospital, is even stranger. I just talked to the head of my lab and he says they have only canceled classes one other time in the 20 years he has been here, which I guess would be the tornado.

In knitting news, I have finished two hats and a mitten and have plans to knit a couple scarflets to complete the sets. Since these are all gifts, I am going for small things that require small amounts of yarn and small amounts of time. I have a lot of car time over the next few days so I should be able to complete some stuff. I am on a stitch pattern hunt for the scarflets, so if you have any good ideas let me know. I want something that doesn't curl and looks interesting with minimal work. i want to stay away from cables and lace, but other than that I am open to anything.

If I could knit as fast as this woman I would be golden.

As long as I don't also fall off a cliff.

In other news probably very few who read this blog will care about, my fave UFC ref has retired.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Christmas has never been about traditions for me or my family. Christmas was usually at my grandparents in Ames and then we would go to my aunt and uncle's place in WI between Christmas and New Years. We never baked cookies together or had special ornaments. There wasn't a fancy meal or advent calendar. We had a fake tree, so we never went as a family to pick out the perfect Christmas tree. Since my parent's divorce it has been even less about traditions (unless you consider my dad's gift of a check or cash in a card for every occasion as a tradition) and more about juggling schedules.

When I moved away from home, I didn't have any special ornaments. I bought all my ornaments last year at Target to supplement the few Josh has from his family. I got some glass balls and snowflakes that I thought were kinda pretty and the cheapest on the racks. I think I am going to make one this year so I can have my own. I was just reading Brooklyn Tweed between some washes on my latest experiment and saw his little sweater ornament. I really want to make one or two or three or... Not that I need to give myself anymore knitting projects right now, but they look so cute. They remind me of the sweaters my mom used to knit for my Barbie dolls. Mini socks would be fun too! I even have a pattern for one.


While wasting more time between washes I stumbled upon these little guys! I must make them and these Pac Man and his ghosties.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Apparently the blue blob is out to get us! I hope Josh is home when my boots are delivered so I don't have to wait an extra day. I ordered the Columbia boots because I will be in Chicago just after Christmas and will probably be doing some walking. They look like good walking boots and they are kinda cute.

I actually kinda enjoy my French cigarette comments. My comments come to my email and I usually read them there before looking at my blog. For some reason the cigarette comments and a few others didn't get sent to my email so I had no idea why everyone was commenting on my French cigarettes. I was so confused!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I am in search of winter boots. I have had a pair since high school, but they are too small for me and pinch my toes which makes them cold and numb, therefor totally defeating the purpose of the boots in the first place. I like the idea of boots without laces so I can just pull them on or off easily to change to my regular shoes or slippers when I get home. Trying to untie boots with partially numb fingers is no easy task.

I really like this pair of Keens, but they are more than I want to pay. This pair from Land's End is definitely cheaper, but I am afraid they won't be really warm. This pair from Columbia is cheaper than the Keens, but still more than I want to pay. It's also kind of a cross between the first two boots. I want something I can wear with jeans to work and not have to take off if I don't want to. They need to be able to keep my feet warm while standing and waiting for the bus, which is notoriously late during the winter months. My current pair (similar to these)is so inflexible that it can be hard to walk after awhile. I figured after almost 8 years it's time for some new boots.

Any suggestions?

Monday, December 03, 2007

I think I must have purchased all the jeans I am wearing regularly during the summer or at least when I was wearing flip-flops. My jeans are too short, for the most part. I have one pair that is way too long, no matter what shoes I wear and one that is just about perfect, but I didn't wear them all summer because they were too long then. The other three pairs I have are too short to wear with any shoes other than flip-flops or other really flat shoes. Not only are they too short, but they are too big. I think I bought most of these jeans during a couple shopping trips to the outlet mall over the summer after all my jeans seemed to die at about the same time. I must have had a bad shopping month.

I just found this link to some great tips for making food prep easier. I think my fave is using the CD spindle for a bagel holder.

And another link. I used to work in the lab of Richard Smith. His daughters and sons would work in the lab during the summers and sometimes during the school year. One of his daughters has a kidney disease and is on dialysis. Her mother nominated her as a Kidney Idol and she can win a dialysis-friendly trip if she gets enough votes. Click here to vote. Her mother's entry is the one entitled The Lightness of Hope. You can vote every day until the 10th.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

This will be a long post

Yesterday was very interesting, to say the least. Not only did we spend almost 9 hours driving through a snow and ice storm, but I competed in a cooking competition at Le Courdon Bleu Culinary School in the Twin Cities. I am not sure why I didn't mention it before. I found out I was a finalist two weeks ago today, which was right before the Thanksgiving craziness and I guess it kinda slipped my mind as blog material.

Anyway, 10 people were picked based on a 250 word essay. I, along with 9 others, was picked to participate in the Panier de Marche Scholarship Competition. We had an hour and a half to cook a meal consisting of a protein, a starch and a vegetable. We were limited to a list of ingredients they provided. I made lemon and herb cous cous, salmon with a lemon butter sauce, and green beans with roasted onions. Just for participating we received an apron, hat, embroidered chef's jacket, really nice chef's knife and $125 towards culinary books. The prizes were $1,500, $1,000, and $500 scholarships for the top three.

I placed third and received the $500 scholarship. I really didn't think I was going to win anything. I was just happy to get a new chef's knife! The guy that won looked about 14 years old and the 2nd place winner is a sous chef somewhere, I think. I am still surprised I won anything because everyone's dishes looked really good. We were judged on taste, presentation, and sanitation. I really wish I could have seen the scorecards. I washed my hands a lot to kill time because my meal was really simple and quick to make. I could probably finish it in about 45 minutes, but since I had 90 minutes to kill, I tried to waste my time in a constructive way.

The drive home was almost as interesting as the competition. The snow started during the competition. By the time we left it looked like there was almost 5" of snow on the ground. We decided to stop at a coffee shop so we could check the road conditions on our new laptop, which luckily arrived Thursday. We decided to head home after grabbing a celebratory lunch at Red Robin.

The roads weren't great, and we saw a bunch of cars and trucks in the ditch. It made me very thankful my tires are relatively new. It took us around 9 hours to get back to Coralville, but I think we made the right decision because the Twin Cities weather wasn't supposed to be any better today, so we may have gotten stuck for another day if we had stayed.

I finished a Zeebee. While it is too small for the intended recipient, it fits me nicely. I am working on another one, that will hopefully be a better fit. My gauge swatch wasn't terribly helpful, so I am guessing as I go. I may need more yarn for the second one! Well, technically the third, since I intend to make two for Christmas gifts. The first one doesn't count because it's for me. I am really enjoying the garter stitch on Zeebee so I am not complaining.

I have finally gotten a decent picture of Foliage. Not an action shot, but better than nothing.

Pattern: Foliage
Yarn: Cascade 220 #7811
Needles: 4.5mm