A Scare, A Blankie and An Excellent New Swap

This past week, it has been Abbie's turn to give us quite a scare. It all started when Mr. C, who is normally the perfect life-partner, made a Very Bad Mistake. He has the bad habit of not closing drawers, cabinets and closet doors after he has opened them. It irks me to no end, but since he actually enables my yarn addiction, I can usually overlook it. Earlier this week, he made some pork babyback ribs, of which I am not a fan. Even worse, he didn't close the sliding drawer that contains our garbage can after he disposed of the bones. Then he left to run an errand and I wasn't home either. These are the times Abbie often gets herself in trouble if she is left to run loose in the house, usually by snacking from the kitty box or chewing up something of mine.

This time, however, her excellent beagle nose led her straight to the open garbage can. When Mr. C got home, he found her chewing on one of the bones. He found the remains of 2 others. And I mean chewed. Into little needle-sharp shards of bone. And, being a typical man, he under-reacted and did nothing about it, not even calling me, because "she was acting fine.". I didn't get home until about 3 hours later. Of course, I freaked out. Then I went to trusty Google and called up some websites that offered advice to other idiots who had not protected their dogs from pork bones.

What I read freaked me out even more. If she didn't end up with a blockage, she could end up with a pierced or ruptured bowel, leading to peritonitis and a slow, agonizing death. Cooked chicken bones can do the same thing. Several people recommended feeding the dog lots of bread, to help the bones pass through their bowels more safely. It sounded like a good idea to me, so I made Abbie a "bread pudding" with torn up chunks of bread, a jar of lamb babyfood, 2 giant spoonfuls of Greek yogurt, 2 giant spoonfuls of pumpkin and sprinkled on a bit of garlic powder (good for digestion)and she scarfed half of it down. I gave her the rest about an hour later. Our vet told us what to watch out for and bring her in if she was exhibiting problems.

She seemed fine that evening and the next morning, passed a stool that contained a lot of bone fragments. She was not exhibiting any of the symptoms of possible problems, including dry coughing, unsuccessful attempts to throw up, pain in the abdominal area, straining to poop and passing blood (I am only giving yucky details in case any of you ever have a similar problem). By the second day, she had thrown up about a handful of very sharp bone shards, and got us up several times during that night to go out. She started having normal BM's after that and we are hoping we are out of the woods and that there isn't trouble brewing. I really think the bread pudding idea helped enormously, and we are still giving her some yogurt every day.

So I kept her close to me all week when I got home from work, and it is amazing how fast the time passes (and nothing gets accomplished)when I am hanging out with my fur-babies.

But I did manage to get quite a bit of knitting done. I even (gasp) picked up the crochet hook, which I had shunned since I began knitting 3 years ago. The spring campaign for Afghans for Afghans has been announced and they need hats, mittens, socks and blankets for infants and toddlers. I have a couple of wool baby hats I had already made and thought I'd make one or two more as well as knit a blanket. I remembered how much I liked the patchwork blankets we made from squares for the Greensburg, KS project and thought it would be fun, as well as a great stashbuster to make one of the for the campaign. So I knit a few squares and decided to crochet one for the center. After I made the crocheted square, I realized how much faster I can crochet than knit and decided to crochet some more to scatter around in the blanket.

I figured I'll need 40 or 48 squares to make the requested size, and I have finished 13 so far, in a little over one week. Abbie-nursing has made me very productive. I can't wait to see it come together. I have until at least sometime in March to finish and at this rate, I should be able to do another hat and maybe some mittens.

Here's the hat I am working on - I have to check the size as it may be bigger than toddler size.

And here are some of the squares:

And because of Abbie's little mishap this week, I have not been able to blog, which means I haven't been able to tell you that the second edition of the Mix Makers Swap is about to begin and signups are still going until midnight tonight. You can find out more by going to Ravelry groups and looking up Mix Makers Swap. The first round was a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to this next go-round. Of course there's yarn involved, but my favorite part is getting to burn and receive cd's full of music I haven't discovered before. I have a huge music library, but there's always room for more! So if you're looking for a very pleasant little diversion to lift you out of the winter blahs, this could do the trick! And if you're late, go over there anyway and ask Jen, the wonderful moderator, if you can squeeze in. And blame it on me, or rather, blame it on Mr. C.

We are supposed to emerge from our deep-freeze conditions tomorrow - sunny and high in the 60's. I will be outside, soaking up the sun and warmth. Hope it's coming your way soon!


Whiskers on Wednesday: Easily Amused

I am lucky to be owned by two kitties who are not only adorable, but are easily amused. They enjoy a wide variety of hobbies, such as...

...garden gazing...

...jigsaw assembling...

...birdie catching...

...paper romping...

...salsa dancing...

...and, of course, yarn wrestling.

But even the most fun-loving kitties get bored with their amusements and wish for a new entertainment. And I think I've found just the thing. Don't you think they'll just love their new BFF?

History In the Making

How awe-inspiring to be a small part of history being made.

Words cannot explain the emotions I am feeling today as I have watched our new president take office to become our leader. I am so thankful that, finally, our healing as a nation can begin. I am proud that we Americans have finally had the courage to look beyond race and political parties in order to exercise our voice for change. I am filled with joyful optimism that, although not easy, our new journey is bringing us to a new kind of prosperity and peace, truly "one nation, under God". I am so happy to be here, at this time and place in history. God bless America and especially, God bless President Barack Obama.


Whiskers On Wednesday (On Saturday): Today the Tabletop, Tomorrow the Universe

Everyone who lives under our roof knows that Ms. Criquette is The Boss. Very few events escape her notice, and she usually needs to supervise it all very closely. So when I sat down at the table recently to organize my schedule, she immediately bee-lined it over to see what I was up to. Deciding she needed to get a better look, she began sit and stare and to harass me until I finally gave in and let her up on my lap. She knows that we can't resist "The Look".

She started off with all 4 paws on my lap. However, that wouldn't do. Within 30 seconds on my lap, she began to sidle her way onto the table, inch by inch, in order to get a closer look at what I was doing, just like she does every other time.

First her left paw, and then the right one. It starts with just the tips of her toes, and then the full paw. Before you know it, she's slid a shoulder onto the table. It's done so smoothly, you don't even realize she's moved.

So then she's reading what you've written and, if she approves, leaves several big splotchs of drool. For this reason, I've learned to use permanant ink. But it doesn't stop there.

A little wiggle, a tiny stretch and she has half her body up there. It's amazing how big and heavy she gets when she doesn't want to be moved.

This last was taken just before the final breach of the table, at which point she had created a puddle of saliva all over my list. As you can see, she had gotten me to abandon my writing and was going in for the final victory of laying fully on top of my work so that it could not be read, which would leave me with nothing else to do except give her lots of pets and scratchies for the rest of the evening.

It takes a brilliant mind to come up with a plan like that. Now you see why we're all just pawns in her quest to take over the house, and then the world.


Christmas 2008 was one of the best I've enjoyed with my family in a long time. Everything just came together to make it perfect. I'm really happy because my idea of giving handmade gifts not only didn't backfire, but got an enthusiastic response from everyone.

One of the easiest gifts to make was the infused cranberry vodka. Not only was this really fun, but it got a very good response from the recipients.

Fortunately, I had about a third of a bottle leftover and got to keep some for myself. Let's just say that it blends so well with cranberry juice and lime that a person could perhaps drink a bit too much before realizing how much they had actually drunk. Ahem. Thank goodness I had the sense to finish preparing the brunch for Mr. C's family celebration before hitting the juice.

The other gift from my kitchen whipped up pretty quickly. It was the brown sugar scrub recipe that I found on Deep-Fried Kudzu. I used Ginger's idea for the packaging as well. We have a really neat shop where I got to concoct my own essential oil fragrance. I blended together some chai, some chocolate and a hint of peppermint for a fragrance I named "Chocolate Chai". It smells so delicious that I wanted to gnaw my arm off after I used some of the scrub on my hands.

Martha, eat your heart out!

The little jars were so cute and I couldn't believe my luck when I found these adorable gift bags in the $1 bins at Target that perfectly matched the lids! These went over very well, also.

Then I dusted off my beading supplies and made some angel necklaces for my sister and her daughter, and a pretty pink pearl bracelet for another niece.

And I made ornaments for everyone. The young ones got some candy canes, made from pony beads strung onto a piece of pipe cleaner.

And I discovered a use for the origami cranes I like to make. I decided to add some beads and turn them into "peace crane" ornaments. Everyone really seemed to like theirs.

There have been some suggestions that I make more of these and offer them for sale. I'd love to do that, but it will have to wait until I can cut back on my hours at work.

I also made 4 blanket-sized snuggles for the younger nieces and nephews. They were a very big hit, especially with the teenaged nephew, which was a complete surprise because ...well, he's a teenage boy. He's too cool for school. But not only did he love his snuggle, but was wrapped in it when I went to visit a few days later. I think the older ones were a bit disappointed that they didn't get one, so they may each have to have their own next year.

And finally, these were not technically a Christmas gift. I made them for my Music Mix Swap partner who owns 4 rescued bassets. I had to show you, because they turned out to be so adorable. I wish I could get more of these beads, but I got the last ones.

It was so gratifying to see how happy everyone was with their handmade gifts. I was really surprised by their responses. I still have some promised knitted gifts for my beautiful nieces. One is finished and just needs blocking. One is finished and just needs a trimmed edge and some blocking. I will show pictures when they're ready to go. The other two have yet to be cast on. Let's hope that I get them completed before Christmas of 2009.


New Orleans Trip

Since I'm a New Orleans native, when I go back to visit, I rarely do the tourist thing because I'd rather spend as much time as I can with family and friends, just hanging out and being part of their day-to-day lives for a while. That means I rarely have pictures that would be of any interest to anyone outside of my family, which makes for a boring post about my trip to New Orleans.

So this time I took a few extra shots as I was driving around (my driving while taking pictures skills are improving!). I took these on the day I went downtown to pick up my adorable niece from her rather glamorous and exciting job at one of the big hotels. I-10 runs from the 'burbs into town and that's where I took pictures of 2 tourist attractions.

This is one of the "cities of the dead" that New Orleans is famous for. all of the white things you see are thousands of above ground tombs. This is just a tiny portion of one of the larger cemetaries, which covers several city blocks.

This is the Superdome and the new arena where I believe they play basketball and arena football. I can't imagine what kind of crack the architect was smoking when he or she decided that the arena should look like a gigantic Andes mint with the chocolate sucked off. It's like they had a contest to see which professional sports complex would win the "Fugliest Building" contest.

Here's part of the city skyline. The vast majority of commerce for the city is the tourist industry these days and most of the skyscrapers these days are hotels, not office buildings.

Canal Street streetcar line

Then I was on Canal Street, in the heart of downtown. Canal Street is the original outdoor shopping mall in New Orleans. I remember many wonderful outings to Canal Street with my mother and grandmothers as a child, before the malls had been built in the 'burbs. Everyone dressed in their Sunday best clothes to go shopping. We'd park in the French Quarter, have lunch at a wonderful resturant, like Acme Oyster House or Tony's and then go shop till we dropped. Canal Street was always so beautifully dressed up for Christmas. Because the lighting was lousy, you can't really see it, but all of the light poles and palm trees have garlands and lights. It brought back so many cherished memories.

Most of the big department stores with their magical window displays and luminous light displays are gone now, but it made me laugh out loud to see that Blue Dog is rockin' the window display of this hotel.

In New Orleans, the palms take the place of evergreens so they have to be decorated as well. There were lights and big snowflakes in all of them. I thought they were so cute!

One of my favorite places to hang out in the city is Magazine Street. It's several miles of unique shopping, bohemian neighborhoods brushing shoulders with exquisite mansions, great places to eat and fascinating people to watch. My niece took me to one of her favorite spots, Sucre, a mecca of eye candy which has beautiful cupcakes and to-die-for gelato.

It's also home to the Garden District Needlework knitting shop. This was my first visit there and it was quite an experience. The owner has done nothing to artificially enhance the shop's decor (which is in an old building that has the original exposed brick walls, rafters, floors, etc.). The place is charmingly shabby and overall has a very funky feel to it. It's authentically New Orleans. I was surprised that they carried as much wool as they did (I'd have guessed they'd have more cotton, linen, silk and bamboo) and they had an over-abundance of synthetic and novelty yarns (I am pausing to shudder as I write this). Their inventory was low, since it was right after the holidays, and I was starting to worry that I wouldn't be able to do my part to boost the local economy.

But there was a room packed full of sale items that were all 50% off, so I picked up some lonely single balls of Mission Falls 1812 merino yarn, Noro Kureyon (in the exact colorway I needed to match in order to make a project for my North Carolina niece) and 2 pairs of Lantern Moons, which I have been dying to try. They must have had at least 50 pairs each in only 4 sizes: 7, 9, 13 and 15. Whoever did the buying on that order must have been smoking from the same crack pipe as the arena architect. But I shouldn't complain. I've started a project with the 9's and I can totally understand the degree of needle-worship Lantern Moon inspires. I adore those sharp little points and the silky-smooth glide. Now I want more!more!more! But unless I run into another sale, these will be it for a while.

Speaking of knitting, my 11 1/2 year old niece asked me to teach her to crochet, which delighted me no end. I learned to crochet from my favorite grandmother and think of her often when I'm doing needlework. Tragically, I realized that since my niece is left-handed, and I am not, that I was just confusing the poor girl. So I found her an instructional video on YouTube to show her how instead. I'll have to send her some luscious yarn and some hooks and then maybe she'll think of me when she crochets in the future.

One of the coolest comments I heard during the trip came from my 16 year old nephew, as I was trying to teach my niece to crochet left-handed (before we gave up). He said "V, just don't start knitting at parties like all of the high school girls do, ok?" My teeth about fell out of my head...I asked him to tell me more. Apparently knitting is a very popular activity with a large number of the junior and senior high school girls in their little corner of New Orleans suburbia, so much so that they bring their knitting with them everywhere, even to parties! Now these are young women who have their heads on straight, if you ask me. There is hope for the future! If only knitting would have been this hot when I was in high school and college....I wouldn't have gotten into nearly as much trouble, and would no doubt have had much more fun!

On a different day, Mr. C and I drove across Lake Ponchartrain via the twinspan bridges on the eastern edge of New Orleans. New Orleans East was a thriving and rapidly expanding community before katrina struck. There were very upscale neighborhoods, miles of apartments and condos, numerous old fishing villages and modern waterfront communities covering what used to be marshes and wetlands. It was virtually destroyed and wiped out. The media didn't give any coverage to this part of town after the hurricane, so when we drove through on this trip, we were astonished at the destruction, as well as the overall lack of rebuilding. It's creepy, like you're driving through a modern day ghost town.

Shopping centers, medical offices, schools, libraries and even the hospital (seen in the background) all remain deserted.

Apartment buildings and homes have been deserted. It's a city of ruins.

The amusement park, only a few years old when Katrina struck, now in ruins. It would be a great site to film a post-apocalypse movie.

So my poor, beautiful and beaten-up city is still here, but struggling. The people who have stayed are like pioneers - they're tough, determined and are not going to give up. When you read the history of the city, it's a testimonial to the staying power of it's people that there have been plagues, fires, wars, and hurricanes that have destroyed large parts of the city over the years, but the people stay and rebuild and don't give up. And after all the hard work, it's time to have a good party. Food, music, family and friends, all together, celebrating the joy of getting through the day and being alive. It's the spirit of New Orleans. It is unique and it is what makes people fall in love with the place. I am proud to come from such strong people and I am reminded of that every time I go back home.


Mix Maker's Swap 2 & 3

Lots of people experience a post-holiday letdown when all of the festivities are over and life settles back into the usual same old/same old. And I am one of them. So it was reallyreallyreally exciting when I got home from work on Friday and found a package from my Mix Makers Swap pal, Sarah.

The first package was so much fun, and this was double the fun because she combined the second and third packages into one big "superpackage"! Look at all of the goodies she sent for me:

Lots of yummy things to eat and drink including some hot chocolate mix, salt water taffy, raspberry tea, some delicious chocolate cookies, a bag of interesting Japanese snack food that I am looking forward to trying and a big box of chocolates that contain pieces of tropical fruits and macadamia nuts ( I looooove mac nuts!) that I can't wait to try. Now that the holiday treat supply has disappeared, it's good to have delicious little nibbles around.

There were lots of fun little surprises tucked in - a stamp with a beautiful design, 2 packs of large sticky notes, a notebook and address book. I can never get enough office supplies and notebooks! She also sent me 2 really cute little toys. One is a grow-my-own polar bear (it's been cold enough here for the polar bear to feel totally at home) and the other is a tiny go-fishing game. I plan on using the game at work - kids usually love playing this game (and I do too).

Sarah sent me a pattern for a beautiful headband that she designed. I definitely plan on making at least one of these but I have a feeling that it will be addictive and I'll have to make more than just one. I'm looking for a new, quick project to cast on and this will probably be it. My bangs are growing out and in that awkward stage so the headband will be very useful.

Last but definitely not least is the scrumptious yarn she sent me. I love both of the color choices she chose. The deep blue teal is Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine and is so incredibly soft I want to marry it. I think it will make an amazing shawl, and I have a few patterns stashed away in my favorites over on Ravelry that would match up well with it. As I was going through my closet this past weekend, I was somewhat amazed to see how many pieces of clothing I have that are in the blue/green/teal color family.

And the luscious buttery yellow yarn is a wool/silk blend called Creme by Crystal Palace Yarn. Sarah must be psychic, because I was thinking I needed some wool/silk for a lightweight warm and soft spring scarf. The color is just right for spring!

And of course, there were 2 cd mixes that I've been listening to all weekend. Both are so addictive. Sarah is a genius at putting together interesting mixes that really flow well. The song choices are so eclectic, yet they sound like they all belong together.

So thank you Sarah, for the great package and cd mixes. Once again, you picked goodies and music that have made me very happy. It's been fun to have a swap pal who gets me. You've been great and I hope you have been spoiled well by your pal, too!


Happy New Year!

I hope you all had wonderful holidays full of family and friends, good food and lots of laughter. I certainly did. My visit to New Orleans did not last nearly long enough, but I guess the sign of a good visit is leaving before you're sick of the people and the place. We had a wonderful time in New Orleans and I will tell you all about it when I get all of my photos downloaded.

I am looking forward to catching up with you all over the next few days. We are hosting the Christmas celebration for Mr. C's family on Sunday, and I have a fun brunch menu I am trying. I'll take pictures and post recipes of whatever turns out good.

Finally, I would like to wish all of you a healthy, prosperous and love-filled 2009. Full of yarn, of course.