Scary Knitting

Okay, I'm starting something really scary today. I'm taking my next steps as a newbie knitter by branching out with a sweater! Actually, a tiny sweater, more of a kimono actually - a straight knitting pattern that involves lots of shaping and then sewing 2 seams - I think I can manage this. I am making the "heartbreakingly cute baby kimono" from the Mason-Dixon book, which is also the first book of knitting patterns that I have bought. Wow, I feel so knitterly! I am also knitting on tinier needles than I have previously used - size 6 Clover bamboo. And the yarn, luscious and satiny-soft, in ghostly white (appropriate for Halloween) is Classic Yarns Cashsoft Baby DK.

I am going to try casting on and knitting in between little visitors seeking high-octane sugar treats, we'll see how that goes. Have a fun and safe and sugary H'night!


Funky Halloween

Let's Party!

Remember the pieces of fabrics I showed you last week? They got ripped into strips, tied together then knitted in garter stitch on sz17's to become this - a funky Halloween scarf. It's so cute, even Chloe, who is normally freaked out by things that shimmy, begged to try it on! Then of course, Abbie had to get in on the act - note that she even agreed to wear a spider headband. My girls let me costume them!!! Does this mean they'll let me turn them into reindogs for Christmas?

We went to the annual High Spirits party last night, a fabulous bash thrown by some friends of ours, Gene and Terri. Terri is an incredibly talented artist, crafter and decorator whose favorite holiday is Halloween. Gene serves the role of affable host and jokester. Plus he keeps a wicked bar. Practically every inch of their home is covered in spooky decorations that are creepy and elegant at the same time. These photos don't begin to do even remote justice to how over-the-top it is, but here are a few of my favorites:

I had never costumed for this party in the past since many of the guests are talented artists in their own right and make creative costumes. So I thought I could wear my usual (boring) black top/pants/jacket but add a really funky scarf in black, purples, greens and orange. Since yarn was just not going to get the effect I wanted, I bought a variety of fabrics in different colors and textures. I love the way it turned out! But it still wasn't funky enough, so at the last minute I decided to be a zombie rock groupie and had to get creative with my usual makeup. Since I garnered lots of compliments, I guess it turned out ok!

Zombie Girl, Nosferatu, the incredible Terri

It looks like I have a big monkey mouth, but that's really lipliner that I artfully smeared around my mouth to look like blood. Actually, none of my zombie makeup effects or crazy hair are showing up because of the flash. I looked much deader than that, really. Terri's home was actually all dimly lit so these pix don't capture the true spooky atmosphere.

Unfortunately, between the free-flowing adult libations and delicious food (Terri spares no calories in her recipes AND makes the absolute world's best brownies and I should know since I've eaten at least 20,000 lbs. of my weight in brownies over the years), I had wayyyy TOO MUCH FUN and am paying dearly today. Yuck. But we did have a great time, so thank you Terri and Gene and I hope you never stop having these great parties!


*True Confessions* Wednesday

Um, I'm not sure what this says about me as a person, but there is something I find strangely irresistible about animals dressed in clothing.

Could it be the unbearable cuteness?

the silly ridiculousness of it?

the anthropomorphism (of which I am often guilty) that we humans engage in to bond us closer to our little companions?

some unconscious Freudian thingy caused by potty-training-gone-bad?

Who knows and who cares - I am a sucker for this kind of thing and if my pet children wouldn't shred my arms off (the kitties) or fall onto the floor in embarrassment and despair (the pups),
I'd be an animal dresser of the worst kind! Oh the costumes they would wear! Oh the pictures we would take!

"Bring it on, costume girl!"

So instead, I satisfy this secret longing by stalking the 'net for pictures which I then collect as clipart, because you never know when you're going to need a good laugh and warm fuzzy feelings and something to put on your blog when you can't think of anything else to post.

Also, as a simple google search for "animals in costumes" (or similar searches) will prove, I am not the only nutjob who enjoys this questionable pasttime. Just don't report me to the PETA police. Please.

And because I am an advocate of equal opportunity, please check back next *True Confessions* Wednesday for my gallery of "Dorks in Animal Costumes".


Sunday Supper For A Cold And Dreary Day

I wonder what she's cooking up this time?

One of my favorite things about colder weather is the opportunity to indulge in 2 of my favorite foods - soup and muffins. So, what better combo to cook on a chilly, dreary day like today?

Following my usual improv style of cooking, I made these 2 recipes up as I went. They pass my criterion, too - healthy, quick, and easy.

Prairie-Mex Bean & Barley Soup

Here are the ingredients:

2 cans of soup beans (any kind of beans will do)
2 cans of low-sodium chicken broth (sometimes I substitute veggie broth when I'm going meatless)
1 quart roasted pepper and tomato soup
1 cup quick-cooking barley
6 oz. dark ale
1 tbls McCormick's Mexican Seasoning
1 tbls powdered garlic
1 tsp dried minced onion
Dump all ingredients except the barley into a soup pot and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Add barley and cook an additional 15 minutes. Serve hot with Pumpkin-Chili Corn Muffins and a bottle of dark ale. (Today's beverage of choice is "Left-Handed Brown Ale". It's crafted in Colorado and has a smoky, chocolatey flavor. The perfect choice for this Sunday's supper.)

Pumpkin-Chili Corn Muffins

1 box Jiffy corn bread mix
1 box Jiffy yellow cake mix
1 can pumpkin puree
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 tbls pumpkin pie mix
1 tbls chili powder
1/4 cup dark ale (or enough to make stiff dough)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease muffin tins.
Dump first 6 ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix together. Add enough ale to make a stiff dough (consistency should be like a soft cookie dough). Spoon into muffin tins. Bake for 18-22 minutes. Makes approximately 36 mini muffins or 12 regular muffins.

So here is what it looks like without the liquid added,

and with the ale added:

After the muffins have cooled to the touch, you are ready to eat.

I am happy to report that both the soup and muffins got rave reviews! Bon Appetit!

Now that my mouth and tummy are happy, it's time to start my next project. Can you guess what it is? Stay tuned...


Funky & Pretty & Soft, Oh My!

Look at this little piece of prettiness! My partner, Valerie did good! Not only is the yarn incredible, but the colors are luscious. Since I almost always wear dark colored jackets to work, I can toss this on and really jazz up my look. The kids I work with are just going to love it too! I'm wearing it Friday and can't wait.

Valerie was also incredibly generous with the other gifts she sent along. I received the rest of the yarn from the scarf and I am thinking of trying my hand at a moebius headband to keep my little ears warm as well. There were some delicious candies, all of which are some of my favorites - candy corn, punkin peeps (I started eating them the second the picture was taken), some decadent Lindt truffles, and some sugar-free (LOL) Jelly Bellies. (BTW, I use JellyBellies in my work with OCD germ-issues - we smush them on the floor and then eat them- yes I am crazy, but the germs haven't killed me yet and the carpet dirt adds a yummy layer of texture and besides this is a legitimate behavioral technique called exposure.)

And look at these treasures! My first sock yarns! 2 skeins of Koigu and a chunk of Scout's hand-dyed loveliness, all in some of my favorite colors for wearing! I was just wondering the other day if I was ready to learn sock-knitting. I guess this is a sign. Does anyone have any suggestions for a beginner on which pattern to start with? How did I get so lucky? Thanks, thanks, thanks Valerie - you have made my first swap special and something to remember.

And here's the really funny part...I heard back from MY secret partner who was none other than....Valerie! What fun! I wonder if she knew...hope I didn't mess up with the same email address and such.

Finished watching Project Runway...Wednesday nights are sure going to boring now, knitting without anything good to watch on TV. I originally wanted Michael to win, but felt his collection was the weakest of the 4. I loved Laura's collection but never liked Laura very much - too tightly wound and a tattletale at that. I have liked Uli's clothes but didn't think she could make it as far as she did, until I saw her collection which was so lust-inducing and I am not a fashionista by any means. Jeffrey 's actual style isn't something I can relate to, but I do admire his overall artistic sensibility and to be honest, felt there was something likeable about him despite his tough persona. Bottom line: I was pulling for Uli to win but I'm not sorry to see Jeffrey win. Dad's who love their kids hit my soft spot.

Finally, I have been in denial about something that is hard for parents to face. You want your kids to be happy and healthy and when they're not you blame yourself and go into denial. Well, I can't deny it any more - Abbie has trichotillomania (hair-pulling) and dermatomania (skin-picking) both of which fall into the OCD spectrum. See the big patch on her tail and the scab on her haunch? How ironic that she did all this damage while I was at an OCD conference! She had a "hotspot" a while back (remember the cone of shame?) but it had no cause the vet could discern. And she mostly does this when she's bored and stressed. Just like the kids I treat who pull their hair and pick at their skin. So how do you do relaxation training and habit reversal with a beagle? Is there a dog shrink reading this? Help! PS: She keeps stealing the cone when it is put up somewhere and is trying to eat it - she has about 3/4's left to go.

Where's the Puppy Prozac?


There's No Place Like Home, Toto!

Just got back from an intensive weekend in St. Louis, stuffing my tiny brain full of info about OCD and effective treatments. I got to meet a few of the "OCD Gurus", who are all very funny, as well as extremely knowledgeable about a very challenging disease. I also had the chance to make some great new friends and colleagues - thanks to Jennifer, Ann, and Nancy for making the workshop extra fun! I can't wait to try out some of my new techniques on the very special kids with OCD that I have the pleasure of treating. Anyone who may be interested in learning more about Obesessive Compulsive Disorder can find excellent information from the OC Foundation.

The drive over to St. Louis was such a joy - I-70 runs through some incredibly beautiful scenery - and it was one of those gorgeous, golden autumn days. The hotel I stayed in was right by the lovely Forest Park and was an unexpected surprise. I had a great view of the skyline - can you see the Arch in the picture? (Hint: It's in the center, near the bottom of the picture. Trust me, it's there.)

And look how cute the room was - kind of funky for a chain hotel, no? - sort of Mid-century modern although it may be hard to tell from these pictures. And the bed, with its incredible puffy duvet, fluffy down pillows and sinkable mattress just made it even better. I hated to leave it each day. I loved the bed & co so much, I wanted to marry it! or at least have a honeymoon with it and just stay in it day and night. And the staff seemed to go out of their way to be friendly and helpful. So thank you, Hampton Inn, for a great stay!

The only sad part of the trip was that there was no time to find and visit any yarn stores :( so I came home empty-handed. I did get some knitting in every night, snuggled in my wonderful bed, though.

But the best part of all was coming home tonight and being greeted by the welcoming committee - C gave me a kiss, hauled in my luggage and told me it was time for me to be home, Abbie had stuffed 3 of her toys in her mouth as my welcome home gift, Chloe did a wild yipping/crying/moaning/runaroundthekitchen dance, Criquette begged to be picked up and then commenced to drool all over me, and Bitsy BonTon came out from her hiding place for about a second, looked at me, hissed, then ran away. There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home...


Funky Scarf Is Off To A New Home

Happy Fall Ya'll

Okay, she's finished and off to her new home, where it's nice and cold and she will (hopefully) be used often. This is the multidimensional scarf pattern, (which I have temporarily misplaced so I will have to post the source on my next posting). It was lots of fun to knit, feels like it goes quickly and makes a person (such as me) seem like a better knitter than she really is. The yarn is Trendsetter Tonalita knit on Clover bamboo straights, #10. I will definitely be knitting with this yarn again - it's yummy! Hope my pal thinks it's funky enough.

And because my pal loves autumn as much as I do, I sent along a few other goodies to help her celebrate fall, including some pumpkin peeps, sour apple candy corn and a Cherry Mash, which is a strange, yet tasty confection made locally - 2 bites are enough to get you all sugared up for the rest of the day! - also some cute party napkins, some Paton's soy/wool yarn with the multidimensional scarf pattern, and some beaded stitch markers (or 3 pairs of earrings if she prefers).

This was the first swap I've been involved in. I had so much fun, I can't wait to sign up for another knitting swap as soon as I can.

Meanwhile, I frogged the basketweave man-scarf because it was too wide, and because there was a weird knot in the yarn that I didn't think I would be able to weave in. So I have restarted it and have about 6 inches so far. That's the only project I am actively working right now, The grey urban camo is waiting for an order of more yarn to come in, since I foolishly didn't buy enough at the start. I am going to start on a scarf for one of my office staff which I will be making with a pretty handpainted lavender merino and I hope to decide on a pattern this weekend.

I will be at an OCD workshop this weekend in St. Louis, which will give me lots of knitting time, at least in the evening, since I am going to be all alone in a lovely hotel with a cushy king-sized bed, and nothing to do at night but watch movies, eat chocolate and knit - poor me LOL! Hopefully, I will find time to sneak off to the lys and buy a little souvenir for the stash while I'm there. After all, why would I travel all that way without having something soft and wooly to show for it?

If it's soft and wooly that you want, why not take me?