Monday, December 30, 2013

The Last of the Turkey Soup

I don't bake. I stir-fry, make soup or use the crock pot. My neighbor convinced me to go to the grocery store on Christmas Eve to score a few bargains at the last minute, like turkey. Why not?? I semi thaw it, hack it into pieces with my cleaver, cook the parts I want right now & bag the rest for the future. I love turkey thighs.

This time around I filled the crock pot with thighs, legs, wings and gibblets. Added a little garlic, some onion, a pinch or 5 of salt,  a couple of cups of water and let it simmer on LOW all night while I slept. Late in the morning, I took out all the meat which I stripped off the bones except for the neck which went back in, added more water,  some celery and let it simmer most of the day. The legs and thighs were delicious.  Half the leftover meat went back into the crock while the rest hit the fridge. I left it on LOW overnight and added dried tortellini the next day. While it simmered, I chopped kale and Bok Choy tops to stir in just before serving with crusty bread that day for late lunch and dinner. Couldn't finish it all so I added more water, more pepper, some barley, baby carrots and the rest of the leftover meat and let it simmer all night on LOW. Had it for breakfast and dinner again.  Best Damn Turkey I ever had!!  And the breast is still in the freezer.

The Crockpot is a lifesaver for the Single person! I didn't get dressed for three days over Christmas & enjoyed several of the marathons that ran day and night. I discovered 'The Amazing Dr Pol' on the National Geographic channel. A lovely show about the comings and goings of a modern day vet in the farmlands of Rural America. I watched Fred and Ginger cavort on the stage in several really old black and white movies on Turner Classics - it isn't really Christmas without them. This year, I did NOT watch 'A Christmas Carol' or 'It's a Wonderful Life' in any incarnation. Why? I don't know - I guess I just wanted something new for a change. 'Hawaii Life' seemed a better option this year, somehow. And while I watched, I knit.

I finally finished the socks in size 12 for the Dental Assistant I see in the spring. I have another pair to knit for her in pink - Pink Frankensocks! But I'll do them later in January.

I decided to knit a coat of many colors for myself. I knit several swatch strips about three feet long with two to eight colors on each to see how I liked the effect. A friend has one that she found in a Thrift Store which I really like but it's basically 5 or 6 colors in big blocks that are pulled from a multicolored yarn that makes up a couple of blocks in the sweater. The multicolored block ties the other colors together nicely. My bag of leftovers ranges from orange to pink, all in solid colors. The pinks and purples sort of make up one lot and the oranges, yellows and  greens make up the other with the tans and one ball of grey working with either lot. And I don't think there's enough of either group to make a sweater for me. I think it would look silly to put all the colors together unless I knit an Adult Surprise Jacket which is designed to use all the leftovers. Or maybe, a jacket with one side going horizontal and the other vertically so it doesn't look silly.

I made the only decision I could and threw it all back into the bag and cast on for a Wonderful Wallaby in blue. I have enough skeins of the Anniversary Twist from Briggs and Little to knit one for myself. Just a simple pull over to keep warm while I sit outside Starbucks with a tea or pound on the keyboard in my cold cold office.  And, by the way, toddle on over to Chez Lizzie @ and take a peek at her new jacket.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Two Days Before Christmas

The socks are all knit, the tuques have left the building, the garbage is hauled, the dishes are done & the only thing left is to live through the event. Well .  .  . I might slide by the grocery store for more cheese, fruit & a jug of milk since I'm down to a litre or so. And if I feel ambitious, I might swiffer the floors & clean the bathroom. I'm looking forward to a couple of days of Peace & Good Knitting.

I have a pair of red lace socks to finish for Moi but I've misplaced the Spin Off Sock book. I'm making the Lacy Arrow socks from the front page only mine are Red. I thought I'd like a pair of red lace socks for a change after all those wild multicolored ones I usually knit for myself. One sock is finished to the toe shaping & the other is barely started but I've misplaced the damn book. It's somewhere in this house & I'm probably looking right at it!!! But, it'll turn up when I stop looking.

In the meantime, I've decided to work on a Wallaby in strips! I'm going to try it. It'll be so much easier to knit in strips 8" wide than casting on All Those Stitches to work it in one piece. I'll knit the strips to the yoke, including the sleeves & then make a solid yoke & collar. I think it'll be so much fun. At least I'll knit the front strips & put them together to see how they look. You'll see me coming even in a snow storm because I have every color from orange to purple in my leftover bag. Not sure I want a pouch & I'm not certain I even want pockets yet - who knows - afterthought pockets can be fun too. So, let it rain, sleet, snow or hail - I'm ready for it all.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Same Song, Different Verse

Part Two of Dealing with Government - Just because I assessed & paid the tax at the bank yesterday didn't mean I was done with the Government Collections department.  This took up most of the morning on Friday. Hopefully, by Monday morning, my guy's business bank account will be functioning again & I can get paid. What??? You think I did this out of the kindness of my heart??? I have YARN to pay for.

Not quite yet. The bank remits payments when they get a bunch of them. This means any time from the day you pay to SIX WEEKS later. So, if you've paid & want your bank account back with the money intact - you better call the Collections department & be prepared to back up your claims with faxed proof. Don't even think about asking for a refund of money taken in error, it was your error - not theirs & they will just issue a credit to your tax account.

It was lovely today, to watch the snow fall & not to have to worry about going out in it. A friend tried to convince me that his lack of planning meant that I would have to drive him across town to Langley at lunch time but my Collections call had not yet come through so I got to wiggle out. I did think about it though since my favorite Soap & Candle supply place had a sale on .  .  .  and my favorite Sandwich Shop - home of the best Roast Beef with pickles .  .  .  .  oh oh oh .  .  .  was just down the block but common sense ruled & I waited for my call. I'll go tomorrow. 

Did the math for the Wallaby but am still trying to make up my mind dickering about whether to finish the sweater I started from the Cabin Fever Gal's new booklet, "Need an Plus Sized Cardigan?" All the designs are Top Down & mine is already down to the bottom of the V-neck. I was going to make the Sleeveless Lace Frock & wear it as a Vest for Spring & Fall like Deb does. Since I don't have long sleeved anything - I just push em up to the elbow so why bother??? - I'll have to put sleeves in this sweater. Why start from scratch???  I wanted a Wallaby dammit. Either way I have to unwind skeins & wind them into balls for knitting. I can try Deb's design on as I go & make adjustments but the Wallaby better be right because it knits from the bottom up. I just want to pull it on & go .  .  .   Will I, won't I, will I, won't I .  .  .

So, in the meantime, I'll just wind all the skeins into yarn cakes on my ball winder just in case. I love this thing. When I first brought it home, I wound up every skein I owned as well as all the leftovers. I still think it's the handiest fibre tool I've ever owned.

Nothing to do with Knitting

Christmas is less than a week away & it seems it's the hardest time of the year to deal with Government. Well, except for Fridays & Mondays all summer. I think Government employees take their holidays in long weekends all summer & no one's in on Fridays & Mondays. Not a bad idea if you don't like to leave your work to a 'temp' & have to spend two weeks fixing it all when you get back. Anyway, since I do paperwork to support my Fibre Habit & sometimes even have to do some work, today was one of those times. It seems to be my week to deal with the Government .  .  .  .

My job today was to file overdue PST forms for a business that normally files 'NIL' returns. The PST people have 'assessed' an "amount owing" & froze the business bank account. The outstanding returns are both 'NIL' returns as usual. I spent most of the morning on line trying to file these returns on the net which is the fast & easy way to deal with this problem. No dice. Seems I need a GST return with an amount not zero that has been filed before August 2013 to prove who I am. I don't have one. Technical Support is overloaded & can't take my call. Customer Service can't help me & can only transfer me to Technical Support or Collections. Collections won't take my call. I can leave a message for an appointment & they will call me or I can use the On-Line registration form to do it myself . . . .

After banging my head on my desk, I assessed the business for ONE CENT on both forms & headed to the bank to stand in line & get the damned forms taken care of. Did I tell you the Bank won't take 'nil' forms???? I told the Commercial Teller my sad story & she made out special receipts for me for ONE CENT for each of them. She attached one to the copies going to the government too. Now to get the bank account released .  .  .  .    It's a good thing my favorite cafe had REAL turkey today to soothe my rumpled nerves!

Back in the Knitting World. Not a stitch was completed by me today! Oh, I wound skeins into balls, frogged a couple of samples from the past & did the math for a Wonderful Wallaby for myself. My basement office is cold this time of year & I want something easy & warm to throw on for work other than my purple Ginny which I've worn to ribbons.  Ginny was made up of two sweaters I'd made for myself years & years ago. I salvaged the yarn & knit it up again a couple of times. The yarn was an expensive wool from Germany - Scheepsjawool was the brand & I bought it out of the SALE bin before 1982 when I moved back to Surrey!! Poor Ginny's full of pulls where the old cat snagged her or I caught her on something. She needs another good soak in some wool wash but I need another sweater to wear so I can take her out of circulation for a few days!! I thought about making a Wallaby - I
made a lot of smaller ones in the last few years for kids & women in Afghanistan. And I made one for a Carpenter that got snagged by his visiting mom. So, I think it's about time I knit one for myself. I have enough 'Grape Heather' wool - not quite dark enough to be Eggplant but a lighter shade with red glints in it. I also think I have enough Briggs & Little Anniversary - a light blue twisted with a dark blue - to make one too. The nice thing about the Wallaby is that most of it's mindless knitting that can be done in front of the tube with no sewing up when you're done except for two spots under the arms. My kind of sweater.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tis the Season

Here we are again - the Season I love to hate. The time of year when Good Cheer is supposed to reign but it's more likely to be Bad Manners & Short Tempers that rule.

This year, for the first time in my life, I'm a Gimp with a Parking Pass. This means that my cane & I are guaranteed a parking spot outside the door of Just About Anywhere. Sounds delightful, right?? Nope. Seems those Handicapped Parking spots - that we pay for incidentally - are handy as drop off, picking up & various other excuses that people without passes use to park at the door. A running van, loaded with kids, was left in the Handicap Spot while the Owner ran an errand. I pulled up & had to force myself not to park directly behind it while I went into the mall to find the Post Office. It was my Good Deed this year.

And speaking of Canada Post - another sore spot on my agenda. Seems Canada Post in it's wisdom picked December, a week before Christmas, to stop delivering parcels to my Post Office box at the UPS Store. Not only will they not deliver parcels to my box, they decided NOT to drop them at the Postal Outlet at the end of the block in the same strip mall but instead, drop them inside Guildford Mall, at their new Postal Outlet. Is this advertising for their new site?? I tried to get it redelivered to my box but NO, it has to be signed for. Since I thought it was my new cheques, I made the trip. Turned out to be a box of knitting magazines. Last year, I ordered everything by internet & had all parcels delivered safely to my Box at the UPS Store, even the US ones. This year Canada Post changed the rules. I wasn't surprised to hear the Canada Post is cutting everywhere - they are overpriced, top heavy, inconsistent, slow & inefficient. Problem is, they're cutting at the wrong end to save money. The mail carriers are the most important part of the service! Without them, Canada Post might as well shut down.

And now that I've vented my spleen, it's time to get on with Knitting. I dropped wrist warmers & a tuque to the delight of my favorite Industrial Cafe on Friday. They all got a bottle of Port from the batch I made two years ago too. They make the best soup from scratch every morning & chicken/swiss on rye to go with it whenever I drop in. This time of year, they're cooking turkey constantly so I get REAL Turkey on rye instead. Today, I lucked out & took home leftover Turkey & Veggie soup - a whole gallon!!! I love that cafe! Monday, I dropped off tuques to the Front Room in Whalley  with promises of more to come. My bus driver pal will pick up some more after Christmas to hand out on his skid row run.

Since I'm so done with tuques, it's time to relax & knit for me. I need a couple of sweaters. I want one big unstructured one for indoors that I can snuggle into while I read or watch TV. I'm not a shawl lover but found a Berocco sweater which is just a very long rectangle with two openings for arms & one for neck. A button band is picked up from the front hem around the back neck & down the other side to the front hem. It can be knit as wide as you like & forms a shawl collar. The sleeves can be knitted with a cuff on the end or left as they are. Another in Interweave Crochet is a sweater called Red Rocks Wrap. It's also basically a rectangle joined to a very long rectangle which is wrapped & crossed around the body & joined with buttons at the side with a crocheted waistband.
I could knit a standard sweater in strips using leftovers. As seen above, the strips run shoulder to hem - basically 2 to 4 per side in the front & 2 to 4 in the back. Each sleeve is made up of 2 & an additional strip could be fitted from underarm to hem for extra shaping or more room at the hip if necessary. I just love this sweater in the classic sweatshirt configuration. What a great way to use up leftovers!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Slip Sliding Away

Now that I'm officially a Senior - gad, what a thought - the days are going faster & I can't figure out what the hell I did during those hours. I'm sure it didn't take me 4 hours to get out of bed & dressed for the day, if I got dressed at all. One thing about working in your home office is that it really isn't necessary to get dressed for the day. The laundry gets washed less often as a result & WOW, your Carbon Footprint is smaller. Makes you think, doesn't it?? Maybe the Nudists were right all along.

While I was out of bed, I DID finish more tuques. I've changed my method of tuque knitting - I was knitting them with a double strand of sport yarn to make them really warm & toasty but my Tuque Tester suggested making them thinner so they'd stay on at night in bed. In BED??? My Tester is bald & currently suffering from Cold Trailer Syndrome. More cold is coming in that he can chase out in this cold snap we're having. Apparently he wakes up in the night with a freezing cold head. He wants a finely knit hat to wear all the time & a thick one to wear over the fine one when he goes outside. I suggested another heater or more insulation might be the solution. And then knit up another tuque with one ply of wool/acrylic. The tuque was perfection. 

So now that the rough edges have been taken off the tuque, I'll probably knit all the others the same even though, I like the thick ones better. Maybe my bald friend has a point in the end, some people have little or no heat & may have to wear it to bed to keep warm.
Meanwhile, there's a skiff of snow out there today. Looks like about a half inch to me. I can look out from my home office to the back stairs & railing & see how much is sitting on the railing. Looks like just enough to send a Senior gimp & cane sliding down the hill at the Chinese grocery store. I think I'll go there tomorrow instead!! I find a skiff is far more dangerous to a walker than several inches. You might have to work harder with more snow but at least you have some traction!!

Today, well, I guess it's Laundry Day. Good day for it. I'll clean out the fridge & make soup with all the findings too. I know there's tomatoes, potatoes, a whole cabbage, some kale & one sushi carrot in there that I can see & a few containers of leftovers in there too. Mmmmm - looks like Creme of Veggie soup or even Italian Soup to me.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Knitting to the Boob Tube

I do most of my knitting in front of the Tube.  Always have. I do most of my spinning in front of the Tube too. I have my corner chair surrounded by all the detritus of a fibre fanatic. My scissors, crochet hook, darning needle & needle sizer are on the right, my kleenex box & tea mug on the left. Just lately, I've added a tilting table on casters just big enough for a laptop, dinner plate or pattern. Since I'm in no shape to go shopping - even if I could - I'm churning out tuques & socks. Always hoping for something interesting on the tube especially this time of year when it gets dark & cold so early. The biggest problem is finding something good enough to watch. Tis the season of Christmas reruns.

In the wasteland of television, I've found several series interesting enough to add to my small collection. Foyle's War is one of them. I just added season 7 to my library. The series so far is shot in the English coastal town of Hastings during WW2. Detective Inspector Foyle, against his wishes, is assigned to Hastings as Police Chief to keep him busy & out of the way. He turns out to be an industrious investigator to the shock of the Government & roots out secrets no one was ever supposed to know. The series exposes the inconsistencies, brutality, lawlessness, deprivation & favoritism of war while telling stories of the people of Hastings so realistically that Historians have found only 3 mistakes. Seasons 1-6 each cover one year of the war. Season 7 starts after 1946 when everything is still rationed & the Cold War is just beginning.

Another series I bought is 'Call the Midwife'. Shot in the gritty East End streets of London in the 1950's, it's a small slice of a world just entering the modern age. While not as historically accurate as 'Foyle's War', it's the memoir of one woman who worked
those streets. It's a place where people still live without heat & a lot without sanitation, cooking facilities & running water in their own quarters. Medical care is almost unknown. Swarms of dirty children play in the narrow cobbled streets & the hospital is still a place you go to to die. Still, it's a happy series focusing on the successes & joyful moments of the Nuns & Midwives as they try to deliver healthy babies & maternal care to the poorest women.

And just for fun - If you're over 50, you MUST see 'Last Tango in Halifax'. Childhood sweethearts Alan & Celia were separated in their teens when her family moved & he didn't get her new address. Now in their 70s & widowed, they meet again on the internet. Seems they still care about each other & decide to meet up. Sound like a simple love story?? Well, it isn't. They both have families & 60 years of baggage to bring to the party. You'll laugh so hard you'll pee your pants & then cry real tears when things all go wrong. This is one you shouldn't miss.