25 January 2012

Socks Part 2

Well, last night at knit night I started a new pair of socks. I am knitting them out of an awesome yarn I got from Yarnorama in Paige, TX. I bought it on Yarn Crawl. It's a handdyed sock yarn called FiberObsessions. It's an excellent yarn and I am enjoying working with it so far. The pattern is Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder.  She is the designer of the month for Sock Knitters Anonymous,  and I have worked with her patterns before and quite enjoyed them so I thought I'd go ahead and knit another. This pattern is also available as a pdf download on ravelry.

As far as changes done to the pattern, I have a gauge of 8 stitches/inch instead of 9. Since the Monkey socks fit me so well and have the same gauge, I just went ahead and cast on 80 stitches instead of 64 as the pattern suggested. They should turn out very well.

I really love the color of the yarn, but haven't been able to capture it in a picture yet. We will see if I can get it later. It's a very slate or dusk color with a lot of gray and some hints of blue here and there. I think it's gorgous. These will probably take me a lot longer since I have a few other things to wrap up and weave in the ends, so these will be on a backburner periodically. They will be done by the end of February for Sock Knitters Anonymous, though. If you want to follow my progress, here is my ravelry projects page.

Pho VN

Well, last night was knit night with the ladies. Liz, Janna, and I went out to eat before heading over to Laurel's to knit and chit chat until the wee hours of the morning. We went to an incredible restaurant my sister introduced us to and I thought I'd post about it here because it was just that awesome.

The restaurant is Pho VN. San Antonio has a very large number of Vietnamese restaurants in the Northwest area and I have been to most of them. I really enjoy Vietnamese food, particularly the vermicelli bowls.

We ordered an order of fresh spring rolls and they were absolutely fantastic. These are the ones with vegetables and meats with vermicelli rolled in rice paper and served with peanut sauce. They are absolutely great and I would suggest them to anyone.

The vermicelli bowls were great. Plenty of vegetables and meat with the noodles. Tastiness! My sister and her boyfriend have both told me that they also have excellent pho. I am not a general fan of soup, as it is, so I trust their opinion on this.

Liz also ordered a bubble tea. She got coconut flavor and I had a taste. It was very, very good. The tea itself was made with actual coconut milk and not that creepy blue syrup that other places have. The tapioca pearls were fresh and not chewy and very good. Excellent bubble tea.

Laurel got a to go order of chicken fried rice and said that that was also very good.

They had excellent customer service and were very attentive to our needs. The decor and atmosphere is also very soothing well done. I would suggest this restaurant to anyone who loves Vietnamese cuisine or is interested in trying something new.

Everything was reasonably priced and they deliver. Here is the contact information if anyone in the San Antonio area would like to check them out:

Pho VN
3505 Wurzbach suite 102
San Antonio, TX 78238
(210) 647-1444

1.5 Mile Walk/Run

Part of my aerobics class involves a pre and post fitness test. I know that I am not at all fit and this is important to getting better. I have to be honest with myself about my current level of fitness in order to accept and move forward.

So, I did not do fantastically well when we did the walk/run. I honestly did mostly walking. However, that's acceptable. I can only move upward. My time was 26:24 and I don't think that's too bad. I am just happy I lived through the whole thing. There was a point at which I was walking and I felt just... awesome. I was not particularly winded after the whole thing and I felt like I could walk all day long. That didn't lost. The second I stopped moving my body was saying "Nope, we're not going anywhere for a while!". I'm glad I had some time to recover before having to walk the ten minutes to the other building where I had Chemistry class. I have also determined that I need better shoes for running or walking as well. I do have my shape ups, so I will probably use those for that. I need other shoes for aerobics, though, as the curved bottom does not do well with step aerobics since it is not easy to keep my balance.

So, in my aerobics class we are required to have at least one other workout a week and keep a log. So, I have decided to do the couch to 5 k program. I have a few friends who are doing it. I am going to start on Monday with my sister's boyfriend, Brian. He's interested in keeping me motivated and getting to the point of running 3 miles, as well. I am going to probably use the 5k runner app, which my friend Lisa is using and she says it's great. I guess I will be updating more about that on Monday, then. :)

Cottage Pie

Well, on Sunday night I decided to cook dinner. It was a good evening all around and full of enjoyment. I have decided to share a recipe that is a huge hit in my family. The recipe is for Cottage Pie, which is a huge hit in my family. In the US, it's common to hear cottage pie called shepherd's pie, but shepherd's pie refers to the use of lamb or mutton, which we don't really use much here. I confirmed that with a friend the other day since we've been calling it shepherd's pie all along. The more you know! At any rate, it's a family favorite. My brother gobbles the stuff up like you would not believe. It's a good way to get him to eat vegetables since they're mixed in so well.

I would like to note, that this recipe is one that can easily feed a family of seven with at least one serving left over for lunch when served with a salad. If you have a regular, normal-sized family I would suggest using one casserole dish, one pound of meat, and one pound of vegetables.
Also, by recipe... I mean general recipe. I'm absolutely terrible with measuring out actual food items while cooking and am famous for my method of "some" cooking. Put some of this, some of that. Never an actual measurement beyond what I happen to see on packages when I open them. Ha.

2 lb lean ground beef or turkey
2 lb frozen mixed vegetables (I tend to get the ones with carrots, peas, green beans, lima beans, etc)
7-8 medium-ish potatoes (I tend to get the red potatoes and approximately one per person that is a size that would not make them cry if it was a baked potato)
Fat-free sour cream
Worcestershire sauce
Garlic- fresh, minced, powder... we like it all
Ground black pepper
1. Set water to boil and preheat oven to 350.
2. Peel and quarter potatoes.
3. Peel a few cloves of garlic and add in to potatoes. This is optional. We are garlic FREAKS.
4. Put quartered potatoes and whole garlic cloves in boiling water, boil for about ten minutes or until fork tender.
5. While waiting for potatoes to boil, put meat and vegetables into a large pan to brown and cook, adding Worcestershire sauce in not-too-liberal amounts along with minced garlic, ground black pepper, basil, and thyme. Notice there are not measurements because I tend to cook by smell. Also, be sure not to accidentally dump ALL the Worcestershire sauce in. There is such a thing as too much.
6. When potatoes are ready, strain out the water and set aside.
7. When the ground beef or turkey is browned, evenly line the bottom of two casserole dishes with the mixture and set aside. If you use meat with a higher fat content, you may want to strain it to get the oil out. If it's too fatty the oil will bubble over the mashed potatoes when baking. I don't usually have this problem since we use very lean beef or turkey, like I said.
8. Mash your potatoes and add ground black pepper and garlic powder. Add fat free sour cream to the mixture to give it a more smooth and creamy texture. I do this because I am on weight watchers and it is significantly better than butter as far as points go. If you like butter in your mashed potatoes, go for it. This is just a healthier option.
9. Smooth the mashed potatoes over the cooked meat in the bottom of your casserole dishes. I tend to do this with a spatula and make cool ridges and such. 
10. Put in oven and cook for half an hour or so or until potatoes become golden on top. I do not like to bake mine as long since the little dude is usually doing the hungry dance in front of the oven pretty much immediately after it goes in.

Finished Socks

Well, I am happy to say that I have finished the socks I've been working on. They look amazing and are very toasty warm as I sit here typing this in my pajamas. As I said before, these are the Monkey socks by Cookie A in her book Knit. Sock.Love. It is a great book and I would definitely suggest it. She has some amazing sock patterns!

I can honestly say that this is the first project for myself that I have done in a very long time and, well, selfish knitting does have its appeal. The only change I would have made is adding another pattern repeat to the foot before decreasing for the toe. I really hate toe decreases and I had to decrease from 40 stitches per side to 12 and so they are kind of pointy, which I don't love so much. Oh well. Next pair.

12 January 2012

Work insanity with larger socks...

So, the new patient thing did not go exactly according to plan. Specifically because dementia patients can be rather fickle. She threw a paranoid fit about me being there at all and I was dismissed at 2 after the weirdest series of phone calls with the patient's two daughters. So, needless to say, I again am looking forward to a ludicrous amount of time on my hands and even less time to find alternative employment with which to fill it because class starts on Tuesday. Bah.

The good news is I've got the craziness with my new-to-me iPhone sorted. Witness it, folks. This is history. I am now officially in the modern age. Little Luddite me is typing out an entire blog entry on a smart phone. Do you detect that glorious scent on the zephyr of change? It's the stench of fear and progress. I'm sure the gift shop in Hell is now advertising a great sale on ice skates because it's entirely frozen.

At any rate, things will be ok. I just need to avoid flipping out. Work will have something for me soon. They always do. They told me on Monday that I would have nothing all week and see how that turned out? Things can change quickly in this business and freaking out is not going to help. So, I will leave you with a fabulous picture of my socks so far. Enjoy.

11 January 2012

Spinach/Tomato/Mushroom Chicken

So, tonight I cooked dinner. It turned out amazing and fabulous, as always. *snerk*

The idea initially originated with my sister saying, "You should bake some chicken with lots of garlic and spinach". Challenge accepted.... but I didn't want to leave it at that. So, I got 8 oz of sliced mushrooms from the store... pre-sliced because I am a lazy, lazy woman. LAZY. I got two roma tomatoes and chopped them, which was NOT lazy. It balances out.  I didn't put all of the roma tomatoes in with it, maybe only one and a half. The other half of the tomato went in with green beans. Huzzah. Anyway, there is also spinach. Not the crazy Popeye canned stuff, but the leafy fresh stuff.

Ingredients assembled! Away! I had intended to drizzle all of this with olive oil... but we were out so my dad had this interesting dipping olive oil, sort of like what they give you at Carino's, except purchased from a store and apparently outrageously expensive. So, I used it... and it was good. I have no idea what seasonings were in it, but I am going to shamelessly yoink my success from its clutches and laugh in its face.

So, you put the oil on the cookie sheet/roasting pan thing. Enough to coat. Put down a veritable bed of spinach. Season with garlic powder, minced garlic, paprika, and whatever the hell was in the dipping oil. Arrange chicken. Season again. Smatter the aforementioned tomatoes and mushrooms all over in a pretty sort of assembly.

Did I mention you should have preheated the oven? Yes. To 400 degrees. Place into oven. Cook for twenty minutes. Flip chicken breasts over, which is actually pretty hard because it has spinach stuck to it. Cook another twenty minutes or until done. Huzzah. You are finished. Serve on shameless wild rice in a box and nom until you can nom no more.

According to weight watchers, this has... three points for the chicken breast and I'm going to say 1 or 2 for the oil. Not too shabby. The rice itself probably only has about 5. I also served this with a teensy amount of green beans mixed with the tomato and some onion cooked in the microwave... because I'm fancy like that.

Insanity (with socks!)

So, things have been going pretty insane for me in the past week. I have had a lot going on. Everything pretty much happened on Monday in a two-hour time period, too. I went to drop off time sheets at work and talked to my boss. She told me that the patient I had been working for passed away on Friday and no one was notified, so we could not have anyone attend the funeral. It makes me really, really sad. I am going to have to get a condolences card for my patient's wife. She must be in a very hard place, right now. Poor thing.

The other bad news was that, since he passed away, I was not going to be getting any work this week. That was a real bummer and horrible news since it happened the week before I start school. Oh, joy. I was flipping out thinking I was going to have to spend this week job hunting and hoping for something good to come of it. Anyway, today my boss called and told me that they just got a new patient with a 24 hour care order and I was getting first call on shifts. I went ahead and took Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. It's a hefty schedule, but I am more than happy for the hours and something to do.

Also, the check engine light came on in my car.  It's an older car and I knew I needed to get an oil change and such, so I hoped beyond hope that that was the problem. I took it in to Jiffy Lube yesterday and they changed the oil and the light went off. Yay! Also, they changed out the air filter so I should be getting somewhat better gas mileage, now. That's good.

Also, my iPhone is slowly getting to become mine. We are currently getting my mom's stuff off of it and resetting the settings on it. I'm pretty happy with it so far. All I have to do, now, is change my phone plan and swap the SIM card. I'm so happy. A phone that will not die after fifteen seconds of being used for something. Finally.

Also, I have started some socks for me. I started working on them because I was in dire need of therapy knitting with everything going on and I like them so far. It's a pattern called Monkey by Cookie A. It used to be a free pattern, but she published it in a book and, well, it's not free anymore. I like it and the other patterns in the book enough to have purchased the book, so there is that. The book is called Knit. Sock. Love. by Cookie A. If you enjoy knitting socks, I would suggest this book. I have it in .pdf format on my Nook. Very handy access, there. Also, I have another of her books called Sock Innovation and that one is very good, as well. I must admit, though, that I have never knit any of the socks in the book. When I purchased it, I was still very much a sock knitting newbie so I was sort of terrified of them. Not anymore. I plan to knit at least two other pairs of her socks this year. Probably for me. Because I want to be selfish so there.

I do not have current pictures of the sock, but I started it at 1 am on January 10th and have already turned the heel on the first one. I guess that's fast knitting? Anyway, I have the ravelry project page if anyone's interested. I will add pictures soon because I absolutely adore the yarn and the pattern. I promise. I just need to get a good handle on my phone/camera situation. I do have a sort of crazy initial picture to post, though.

06 January 2012

Kiddo Armwarmers

So, I told my little brother that I would be making him some armwarmers for Christmas/Yule. I decided to make him some Gradient Mitts. The pattern is very simple, has a size that would fit for him, and would go by very quickly with a bulky weight yarn. Well, I decided to go ahead and get some Cascade 220 Superwash and hold it triple stranded for this particular project. I think that was where the problems really started. I HATED those mitts. It has nothing to do with the pattern and everything to do with the crazy yarn mess and the fact that, when he tried them on, they did not fit very well. To be fair, he has freakishly large arms for an 8-year-old. After measuring, we have figured out that he and my sister (19) have around the same size.

So... what to do? First of all, I didn't want to go through and undo the one I had made previously and the yarn tangle was still making me pretty angry. So, I decided to go ahead and make up a pattern and get new yarn. I went to The Yarn Barn, which is the only place in San Antonio to get Cascade 220. I have never been particularly fond of this store because I always thought the customer service was sort of... odd. However, the lady who helped us there was very nice this time and allowed my friend, Liz, to use the swift and winder there. I don't know what her name was, but she was knitting the most fabulous beret out of a (probably mohair judging by the halo) laceweight. Aside from the weird customer service, though, I have had the issue with leaving this store with a ball of yarn that looked like a completely different color inside than it did outside. I don't know if it's the lighting or what, but the first time I thought I was picking up ecru and opened the bag at home to find white and THIS time, I got black and blue and found black and purple when I went to start on these armwarmers. Knitting for an 8-year-old boy is not exactly a purple sort of thing. I would suggest to people going to make sure you know what color yarn you're looking at (like hold it up to the window or something) before you buy. That would solve the problem I have had there and, should I need to go there again, I will be doing so. Anyway, the kiddoo has taken it like a champ, so I'm going to get my act together and knit another pair out of the yarn currently tangled and in the other armwarmer.

Anyway, let me go ahead and give the dimensions of what I knit for him and a picture to go along with. Please feel free to use if it appeals to you. If you are interested, my ravelry page for this project is also available, though I think the same information is here, as well. It's just a few mashed numbers to result in a tube. Seriously, not very difficult at all.

Dax's arms are about 8.5" around at the widest point, right below the elbow. From that point measured down to the base of the thumb joint is 10". 

My gauge was 5 stitches per inch on size 7 US needles.

I cast on 40 stitches in color A, split onto four dpns. Knit 7 rows in color A. Switch to color B and knit 7 rows. If you are annoyed by the little jog in the stripes and want to avoid that, TECHknitting has a really awesome tutorial

For the thumb hole:
Row 1 of 3rd stripe: Switch back to color A, knit 17 stitches, bind off 6, knit 17.
Row 2 of 3rd stripe: Knit 17 stitches, cast on* 6, knit 17.
*I used the knit cast on. A video tutorial can be found here.

After you are done with the thumb hole, continue knitting in stripes of 7 stitches until there are 12 total (or longer, if you need it to be...?). Bind off and weave in your ends and there you go! Arm warmers!

He seems pretty happy with them: