30 June 2012

Spinner Study June 2012: Manx Loaghtan

So, this month I had some fiber I wanted to spin up as a part of the Spinner Study group on Rav. This is Manx Loaghtan from Gnomespun Yarns. I love the color and the fiber was so warm and fuzzy and amazing to play with while in braid format.

I had a lot of trouble working with this fiber, I have to be honest. It had a lot of nepps and stuff and was not particularly easy to get the trick of drafting. I had to massively mess with the tension on my spinning wheel and everything to get it somewhat consistent. It also took me absolutely forever. I can't even begin the rant on that. Spinning fine takes forever. Let's just leave it at that.

The resulting yarn was a light fingering, almost laceweight, at about 330 yards. Out of four ounces, it looks like well over an ounce was burned in the process with the nepps and a bit of loss of the single in the plying process. It was awful. It doesn't look too horrible, though.

I would not call it next-to-skin quality yarn and the skimpy yardage kind of makes it difficult for me to imagine a project. I'll think of something, though.

22 June 2012

Comic Nerdiness

Well, I have fallen down the rabbit hole... yet again. I have periods of time where I just get really into certain things and, right now, it's comics. I went to Dragon's Lair on Wednesday and picked up a few things:

I'm pretty sure that most of the people who would find this particular post interesting are aware of the fact that they are coming out with prequel comics to follow the storyline of the various characters of The Watchmen. I went ahead and picked up the original, as well, because it's been quite some time since I've read it and I do not own it. I have not read the prequels yet, because I've been distracted, but I am going through and rereading the original. More on that later, I hope.

Also pictured is the new Star Trek/ Doctor Who crossover comic. I have not actually read it yet, but from what I saw so far it does seem like it will be interesting.

Behind everything else is Y: The Last Man. This is an older comic, but it was suggested by someone and I have been meaning to pick it up and read it recently. I finally got the opportunity and I wish I had the cash to go and drop on buying the entire series because... yeah. It's really good. I don't know what it is, but I tend to love comics that really strive to deal with the definition of humanity and how we would do in a post-apocalyptic setting, like The Walking Dead. 

While I was there, I also saw a Dresden Files comic that looked really great but they only had issue 6 and, being me, I have to start at the beginning. I was bummed out, yeah, but  it's an interesting project to look in on here and there and see what I can find.

So, fast forward to today and I am discussing this with a friend of mine and he tells me that there is a comic book shop  called Dungeon Comix near his house and they apparently have a great selection. So, we go over there... and I end up walking out with a few things here and there but I also signed up for a membership because, well, I am crazy and the employees were very nice and immediately offered to order everything I was looking for. Plus, members get 10% off. Pretty good deal. I'm looking forward to stopping in there here and there.

I do still have a lot of customer loyalty to Dragon's Lair... but the way I see it they have more gaming supplies, dice, board games, etc... and Dungeon Comix is more of a strictly comic shop. They have tables for gaming and such, but I don't see how this would conflict with my business in either place. We will see.

17 June 2012

Father's Day Favorite

Well, I decided to go back into our family favorites and recreate one of these dishes for Father's Day. I chose to take the favorite classic of baked drumsticks in tomato sauce over some sort of carb and a vegetable side.

First, the chicken! We have always done straight up tomato sauce with this dish, which is good... but I prefer a chunkier sauce rather than a viscous fluid. So, I chopped up a yellow onion and several cloves of garlic to put in with it. This wasn't enough, so I went ahead and added in some canned diced tomatoes instead of some of the sauce. There was still some canned tomato sauce, but not nearly as much.

It looked great going into the oven!

I added a little bit of water to the mix to help the sauce stuff move around and actually cover more of the chicken. After seeing how it came out, I disagree with this and will not do it next time... or only add a teensy.

Now, the vegetable side. We usually had canned green beans with this, but I wasn't in the mood to cook up the green beans and Dad wanted squash. I usually boil squash, but in the spirit of reinvention and doing things a teensy bit differently, I went ahead and sauteed them in some olive oil. They turned out great and I will probably do it this way again.

Last, but not least, we used to typically have this served over plain white rice. Rather than bust out the clunky rice cooker, I just went ahead and fixed some tricolor rotini noodles. Not the best, but honestly it's empty carbs either way and it may as well be interesting.

I also insisted we have a salad with this meal, as I had picked up two rather large packages of different salad mixes when I couldn't make up my mind at the store. It was good and I added in some carrots and mushrooms so it was not particularly boring, but obviously not worth taking a picture.

Tomato Baked Chicken Recipe:

12 - 16 drumsticks (please decrease this if you need, we just have a gigantic family)
3  8 oz cans of tomato sauce, no salt added
2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes (in this case I got flavored: Italian and Garlic + Olive Oil)
1 yellow onion, chopped
5 - 6 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 F
2. Arrange drumsticks in suitable pan for roasting with some space between.
3. Pour tomato sauce, diced tomato, onions, garlic over drumsticks
4. Add a small amount of water to mix the sauce a bit
5. Sprinkle black pepper over chicken
6. Bake in oven for 40 minutes
7. Remove from oven and turn drumsticks over, then place back in for another 40 minutes
8. Serve over rice or noodles with sauce ladeled over and enjoy!

15 June 2012

A Breakfast of...

Well, one of the great things about being me is learning all sorts of strange things.

For example, I really, really do not like unsweetened Greek yogurt.

In an effort to help my diet, I went ahead and mixed up a cup of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt with half of an apple and a teaspoon of honey. I really have no idea what I was thinking, because there is no way in the Universe I am ever, ever eating an entire cup of yogurt, even if it's loaded with sugar. So, I think I will take the 3/4 I could not manage to eat, put it in the fridge, add a bit more honey tomorrow morning and not be surprised when I can't more than 1/4 of it then, either.

It looked pretty, though.

14 June 2012

Humongous Pot Roast

So, yesterday I got the wonderful idea to make a really good pot roast. Unfortunately, this light bulb went off after dinner and I was without the necessary ingredients so I decided to wait until today.

I woke up and went to the grocery store to get all kinds of groceries. I am going to be on a pretty serious cooking kick here soon because I have found out that I gained back all but 10 lbs that I lost while on Weight Watchers... which I completely just stopped doing for no apparent reason. So, I'm giving MyFitnessPal a try and am looking forward to seeing how it goes. I feel I am going to be successful. If you are on there, please feel free to add me. The username is rabidtriangle. I am horrendously predictable, aren't I?

Anyway, I ended up getting probably the hugest pot roast I have ever seen in my life. 4.8 lbs before cooking. There was this little part of my brain thinking that that was probably too much, but the other part was saying something about having a large family, so I bought it. It pretty much filled up half of my Dutch oven!

Behold! My gloriously large meat!

So... yep. The meat is actually very lean and I am not too worried about the fat content at all. I also tried my very, very best to fill it up with as much vegetable matter as possible before pouring in a bit of salt free beef broth and seasonings. Sadly, I didn't get as much on the veggie front as I usually manage but it ended up being okay. No one felt it necessary to go into a rage because they were mushroom deprived. I also overcooked it somewhat, too, because I turned up the heat a bit about halfway through. Shouldn't have. I was just worried because it's more to have to cook through. Ah, well. At least I know for next time.

I think it turned out very well. I don't know if anyone else does this, but we tend to eat all beef pot roast with a slice of pumpernickel rye bread and a bit of butter. The taste just goes perfectly. As you can see, I shamelessly nommed a bit of the bread before it even made it to the bowl. Sorry, wasn't thinking.

12 June 2012

D-Man Birthday Socks

I really apologize for the long wait on an update. I have had so much stuff going on and I do have a spinning project in the works, but I will have to talk about that later as I am not pleased with how it's going at the moment.

Well, on June 1st I began knitting up some socks for my brother's birthday. Yes, his birthday is in September but I have quite a bit of holiday knitting ahead of me, as well as baby blankets for kids due in the Fall, so I figured I should get a head start on it already.

I used the Elizabeth Bennett's Perl Sock Program, which used to be available online but it does not look like it's working currently. I wonder if my sock was the last pattern it churned out? Hm. Anyway, it's a sock generator program and I'm sure there are others out there like it. I know that the pattern I ended up with was sort of wonky and had some incorrectly placed numbers here and there, but I got the trick of it soon enough and I have knit enough socks to identify where the mistakes were.

So, I have finished the first one:

By the look, it seems to fit him very well, which is good. I think what I will do when I weave the ends in is to actually take a different yarn and make a kind of lifeline so that, as he grows, if the width of the sock is still okay I can just go ahead and snip the end of the toe and re-knit it in a similar color so that he can wear them for a much longer period of time.

One thing I will note... please do not ever knit Patons Kroy sock yarn on a size 0 US needle. Your hands will really, really thank you for the consideration. I tend to prefer a very dense fabric for socks, especially for Dax, because he is pretty rough on his feet. Anyway, Patons Kroy is a very thick sock yarn and I would not want to knit it on zeros again after this next one is done. I am knitting fraternal twin socks, so the other one will look slightly different.

01 June 2012

Louise's Road To Recovery: The END

Woo! So, Louise had an appointment with Dr. Powers yesterday. It was originally on Thursday, but my work schedule changed so we had to move it around a bit.

Anyway, Dr. Powers took a look and said she looks awesome! She was running around the exam table, getting into things, and generally being a credit to her species as far as mischief goes. It's an excellent sign!

As you can see, she still has head tilt. It's quite likely that that's permanent, as it got better and is staying at this level and has been for the past week or so. The doctor did not seem worried and is very pleased with her recovery. The only thing is she wants me to give her her ear drops for another week or so because she still has a teensy bit of inflammation. Will do!

I would like to thank everyone for all of their support through this. It has really meant a lot to me. In a world where, sadly, many people would think that an animal's life and happiness is not awfully important it's been wonderful to have the support and positive thoughts for Louise. She may be a teeny, tiny animal that I purchased for $12, but in that purchase I took her life, health, and happiness as my responsibility and I take that very seriously. Her recovery has been worth every penny I have spent on it and I know that she thinks so, too!

Such A Quitter...

So, one of the things I have neglected to really discuss on this blog is the fact that I recently quit smoking. I had my last cigarette on the morning of April 26th, vowing to let that be the only nicotine fix of my 23rd year of life. So far, it has been a success. It hasn't been easy, obviously, but one of the things that really got me through the whole ordeal was spinning.

I am very proud to say that May 26th, while on vacation, I picked up 4 oz of roving and began to spin in celebration, though I wasn't aware of it because I had totally forgotten at the time. It's a good sign when you forget to count how long it's been since you quit, right? Right!

I bought the roving from Lazy Pi Farm. I have spun her fiber before and it is absolutely great and my experience with this Corriedale was no different. It is not as soft as the merino I had been spinning, but that's the nature of the wool. The color is fantastic (hello purple!) and I loved every minute of it.

I went ahead and wound it into a ball and plied from the outside and center, though I think I will try the Andean bracelet or "handy" form of plying next time because I was very frustrated when the two singles would twist around each other as I unwound them from the ball. I think part of that was overspinning, though.  I'm not sure. It's worth a shot, though. The only problem I see with it is you have to finish plying before you can really go anywhere, as you are sort of tied to the spinning wheel at that point.

Anyway, it plied up into 330 yards of 2-ply in a fingering weight yarn, finally! I mostly use sock yarn so finally getting sockweight yarn was just... awesome. I'm so happy! Some of it was actually finer, I'd call it a laceweight, but it plumped up a bit with thwacking so it's all good. I'll probably knit up a tiny shawl with it! Squee! I'm very well aware that I have simply swapped one addiction for another. Don't judge me!

Into The Dyepot

Well, on Tuesday my little brother and I went ahead and dyed up some yarn! I had a partial skein of Lion Brand Fishermen Wool and thought it would be perfect for the kool aid experiment.

So, I went off this tutorial and got one kool aid packet per ounce. In this case, there were 4.75 oz of yarn, so we went for five packets. Dax chose two lemon-lime and three ice blue raspberry. The kid loves green, I'm not sure why I was surprised. Anyway, we rinsed the yarn off in the sink and dissolved the packets in some water in our huge stock pot on the stove. The huge benefit to kool aid dye is that it's food safe (duh) and you don't have to get another set of pots like you do for acid dyes.

So, we put the yarn in and added some more water to cover it, put it on high heat until it was almost boiling and let it go for half an hour or so, stirring every 8 - 10 minutes to make sure the dye was soaking in pretty evenly. The only thing I didn't see mentioned was perhaps having something to weigh the yarn down so it's not all floating above the water and not getting any dye. I went ahead and took my collander and set it on top, balanced on the handles of the pot and it weighed it down without pushing it to the bottom. Success!

He seems quite pleased with it, though he was not happy with posing for the picture. I set it outside to dry on that chair for the rest of the afternoon and took it in to hang up and finish drying on the towel rack in the bathroom and voila! It dried and looks great.

It's sort of a minty green color and reminds me of mint chocolate chip ice cream! The big problem I have with it is that I tied the ties too tightly and the dye did not soak in very well in those places. A friend mentioned that he usually takes a bit of the dye bath out before putting the yarn in so that he has some to spread over those areas and touch up, using the microwave zapping method. Others mentioned moving the ties around, which seems like a great idea but honestly messing with the yarn in its wet spaghetti form is really not that fun. Add hot water to the mix and we are a sad panda, for sure.

Anyway, I'm hoping to knit him a hat with it for Christmas or something. He will be happy with that. :)