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Archive for April, 2012

Why is it that when you are growing up you can’t wait to leave your hometown and get started on your own life, but when you are older and wiser you come home for a visit and you wish you never had to leave ?  

I try to go visit my eldery parents at least once a month (sometimes twice during the summer months), they live about 90 miles from my home.   I spent a few minutes on my way out of town to capture some photos of my hometown – Geneva, NY for the purpose of writing this entry.

Maybe anyone reading this blog will not understand my opening paragraph, but in the 70’s we were a wild and free spirited generation (yup, hippies and I am proud of it!) — we did not want to live and die in the same small hometown that we grew up in.  No reflection on our parents ,  we just wanted to be FREE!    I graduated from high school in 1973, found a two year college and left Geneva in August and never came back.   I was the last bird to fly from my Momma’s nest and her only girl.  She must have been so hurt and suffering from empty nest syndrome.  Being a selfish young person I never knew and honestly, I didn’t care.  I was free!

Geneva sits in the middle of New York called the Finger Lakes.   Look at this map and you will see the long narrow lakes look like fingers.  Some say the handprint of God.    I like that.   Geneva is the longest lake and the deepest of all the Finger Lakes.   The Finger Lakes region is famous for wine.  

I never appreciated the beauty and the priviledge of living on such a wonderful lake and living in such a natural wonderland.

My grandpa LOVED this lake.  He was a fisherman, the best I have ever seen.  He was a professional baker by trade and he would go in and bake at 3am and get done by noon and head straight to this old stone pier and fish until it was time for dinner. 

This scene in this picture makes me think of Grandpa…… a solo fisherman out early in the morning.   

Since I left Geneva they developed a beautiful walking trail around the tip of the lake, which is where these photos came from. 

Look how clean and clear this water is.

Before I left the waterfront I couldn’t help but hear this loud chatter coming from a huge martin house!   It was filled with lovely and talkative Purple Martins!

Like  many small towns (Geneva’s  population is 13,268) hotel developers realized the lake was a gem and they came in droves and built up hotels all along the lake since I left.  It changed the look of the landscape for sure.

Grandpa would not approve.

This is downtown.   A small private college is located in the heart of Geneva which adds the dynamics of a college town feel to the mix.

The town also has a cool octagon (8 sided) house. 

And no knitting blog would be complete without a photo of the local LYS.  I took this shot on a Sunday so it was closed.  I haven’t been in it in a couple years but it is your classic small town, come in and sit down shop.

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I was so excited last night because I had found a recipe on line that will use up the left over ham I had from Easter.  I was in the mood for a shepherd pie type of dish (having read and drooled over someone else’s pie on another blog) so I did some research and found:  SHEPHARD’S PIE WITH HAM AND PEAS.

I wanted to blog  just like everyone  else on their blog – taking pictures as I went along etc.  My husband thought I was nuts last night when I would do/prep something and stop and take a picture of it.  “For my blog!”  was my answer and continue like a woman on a mission.

So far so good.  Ham, peas, mushrooms, white sauce made with chicken stock. 

Here is where things went terribly wrong.   The recipe called for mashed white potatoes on the top – either your homemade ones or nice instant ones.   I did not have fresh potatoes and I had already done my grocery shopping for the week) but I did have a box of instant sweet potatoes.  Hmmmm, sounded like a good combination.   I stepped out on a limb and cooked them up.

Ready for the oven.   When I was cooking up the sweet potatoes I could smell that they had put in some surprise spices (like cinnamon, nutmeg etc.) and at first I just passed it off and didn’t dwell on it too long.

As it started to cook I could smell the spices, like a pumpkin pie cooking in my kitchen.   Not good.   The family was patiently waiting for dinner to happen and all they could smell was pumpkin pie.  Again, not good.    I started to panic and squirm in my chair.    I was busy working on knitting up a pair of baby booties that will be felted for someone’s baby shower in a few weeks.  I could feel the two sets of eyes glued on the side of my head while I feverishly pretended to knit (again, on a mission!).

It finished baking, I let it set for a few minutes and I served it.  Ugh.

I do not blame the author of the recipe.  The blame rests totally on me.  It was the sweet potatoes.   I think this would have been an entirely different dinner if I had used nice white mashed potatoes.   All the pictures I took while I did the prep work etc. were put in my computer recycle bin.  I just saved these three to help me tell this horrible story.   Obviously I will not be posting the recipe and NEXT time I will stick to making a traditional Shepherd’s Pie.

I did get one bootie done and started the second one!  There is ONE GOOD THING I accomplished last night!

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NEVER SAY NEVER!

About two years ago I was known to my family and friends as being totally addicted to sock knitting.  I have the tubs full of sock wool to prove it!  I have every Addi turbo circular needle size to prove it too (I love knitting on 2 circular needles) !

Then something happened. 

I could not see to do the fine work of socks.  (Fingering weight wool, size 2 needles etc.)    It came on gradually.   I wear glasses (and have since I was in 2nd grade) and I have had bi-focals for at least 10 years.    I sat in the chair one night about 4 years ago and struggled.   I pushed through that pair of socks and started two more. 

Here they are:

And if that wasn’t bad enough here is another unfinished pair:

They sat in my knitting basket next to my chair since 2008.  Unloved.  Untouched.  Ignored.   My eyes continued to get worse, things came up, money wasn’t there, my children needed glasses, job changes…… the list could go on.   I ended up switching my knitting skills to working on BIGGER needles , and bulkier yarns (worsted and up).  So I went nuts over felting and have been totally enjoying that for the last four years. 

Finally it was time for my hubby and I to have OUR TURN at getting new glasses and I have had them for a week and I am in heaven!   I can see again!    A couple nights ago, I reached over next to me in my knitting basket and pulled out the striped socks.   I had one whole sock done and just starting the heel on the other. 

Look closely again at this picture (which is the same as the one above) can you see that I am now past the heel and on my way down the foot?  Yup, I am “back in the saddle again!”   I can see perfectly to do fine knitting and I am totally feeling the sock fever again!   I remember telling my husband a couple years ago, after he found these stuck in my knitting basket – “Are you ever going to finish these?”     I sighed and said,  “Probably never.”   

NEVER SAY NEVER!!!!!!

I look forward to sharing sock adventures with you!

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What the heck is going on here?  I pulled the drape back on my sliding glass door to find THIS!  Now, I am no stranger to having snow on/around my birthday (which was yesterday) but it still never makes it nice!     For those of you who have only known me a few short months….. I hate snow.

No, let me restate that for you ……    I HATE SNOW!   I spend most of winter worrying myself sick concerning my daughters and husband driving in the dangerous snow conditions.  I also suffer from SAD – seasonal affective disorder and so I spiral into a “woo is me”  state of mind just after Halloween.  I come out of it in mid March when the sun starts staying out longer etc.  

Where we live we have elevation issues – meaning, it may be raining in the low lands, but up in our neck of the woods it is snow.    We have over 30 windmills less than two miles away from our home.   So winter comes early and it leaves later where we live.    Someday, God willing, I want to move off that “hill”.

This “stuff” won’t last so it generally doesn’t throw me into a tailspin…… but I did not like it that I put away all my mittens and gloves and boots and I had to clean the car off with a broom and walk to the barn to get the shovel I had put away last week to clear the porch off!     Hope none of our lilac bushes get broken under the pressure of the heavy wet snow.   That is always the problem with late winter storms………heavy wet snow.

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THE WONDER WASHER!

For my birthday, one of things that I wanted was Wonder Washer!  I do a lot of felting and for the most part my projects are small.  It was putting a lot of wear and tear on my big washing machine, so when the ladies at Ravelry started to rave about the Wonder Washer, I had to have one!

It arrived at work and I could hardly wait to get it home.  I had been storing up several little projects just for the chance to give this little machine a test run on Saturday.

Here are to objects to be felted:

Along with the objects are tennis balls and lint bags that I normally used when I felted in my big machine.  So each piece of wool got put into a lint bag and into the WW they all went!

A lot of the ladies said they put this machine on the kitchen counter.  I was totally not thinking that was a good idea so on the floor it went.

So the best felting results come from HOT water, lots of agitation and a small amount of soft soap.  So that is what I “fed” Mr. WW.

Put the lid on and set the timer for 9 minutes.  It went by fast and I checked the progress.  Hmmm, not liking what I am seeing.  No change.  The water was starting to cool down so I drained out the water in Mr. WW (and that is a VERY easy thing to do, so I was not put out by that at all!).  Refilled the tub with super hot water, a dab more of soap and THREE tennis balls.  I also did not feel that there was enough agitation so I DECREASED the amount of the water.  I set the timer for another 15 minutes.  When that was done I saw a better amount of progress on the felting process, but still, by now my big washer would have had this stuff felted right down.  Again I felt like the water was getting cooler, so I dumped  the water and refilled with more HOT water and no more soap, there were plenty of suds in there.  Kept the water level even lower, just hardly covering the items.   They were all tangled up in the bags into a ball so several times I had to stop and untangle them.   I think that the tangled mass definately added to the problem of not felting as quickly as they should have.

Another 15 minutes and I deemed them as done as they were going to get.  (Besides, I was now late for an appointment which I thought I had plenty of time to get to because I thought the felting process would not take as long.)

So here they are all done and drying.  A felted item to me is like clay and the job of felting is not done until you have molded the “clay”.  That is why I inflated a balloon in the basket and shaped the other items.  Ignore the brown thing on the left…..it did not turn out at all like I wanted – and it had nothing to do with the WW.  I have since thrown it away!  Ha!

And today this is the basket all dried and ready to fill with an arrangement of dried flowers.

Here a few things I have learned and discovered about my WW.

1.  It requires a lot less water and three tennis balls   2.  I believe that I put too many items in and need to just limit it to two or three things AND items can be put into the WW without lint bags.  The whole purpose of the lint bags is to prevent fibers from clogging your washer machine and twisting around your agitator causing severe and costly damage.   The set up in the WW is so different there are no parts that can get damaged by fibers.  When you are done with the water in the WW you can walk it outside and dump it – the birds will love the fibers for their nests!   3.  The moebius basket I knit was knit with too large needles and only one strand of wool – it should have been two.   4.  I am a little concerned because on the finished pieces I saw spots where it had felted completely and other spots where the stitches were still visable.  I think that also has to do with the lint bags and the over crowding. 

So, I will rate the Wonder Washer as about 85% right now because I believe if I do things differently from all levels this little machine will perform perfectly!  I will keep you updated as I continue to learn and work with this machine.  I don’t regret getting it at all.   I have to knit up some more felted items before I can use it again.   I am currently working on a huge cat bed, and when I am finished knitting that I will have to put that in my big machine.

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It sure is easier to get up in the mornings now that the sun is there to greet me at 6am.  Even on my day off I love getting up while the rest of the house sleeps on because there is something about the stillness that is soothing to me.  I have Misha and Raina to keep me company (my feline sisters) and my “best morning friend”:

My Keurig with a fresh brewed cup of coffee.  I know there are so many pros and cons about coffee, but this old woman needs her cup of joe to get started and to keep going.  I find that life is too short and evil pleasures come in all different levels.  I don’t think coffee drinking is on the top ten evil pleasure list!!!!!  If you were here I would offer you a cup!  This morning it is Nantucket Blend with cream.

The weather people are saying that the east coast is going to get hammered with lots of rain this weekend and in some of the mountains (Adirondack) it will be snow.  This will not be the first time that I have had snow on or around my birthday.   All the snow tires have been removed from the vehicles and I personally put the shovels away last night in the 80 temperatures.  This type of snow storm will not last.  It sure puts a wet blanket on letterboxing (http://pookahclan.blogspot.com/)though.

I started another moebius project – Cat Bordhi’s Red Rose Cat Bed.  Many years ago a dear friend gave me all her “left over” Wool of the Andes Lopi bulky.  100 grams of 6 different colors!  Now I have stewed and waited patiently for the right thing to do with this 600 grams total of bulky wool and I found it!  My darlings, I believe, are going to love it!  No matter how I lay out the stripes.  And I will be very excited to see how it will felt.   It is rather large right now, with a moebuis cast on of 200 stitches.   It is maxing my 47 inch cable to its full abilites to function!

Have you seen this neat little trick with the M&M candy containter?  I got this hint from the wonderful people on Ravelry.  It is really coming in handy during this project because there are so many stitches on the cable that even if I carefully layed it down I believe those silly little stitches will magically work themselves right off my needles!  I can say I know that for a fact because it happened yesterday!   I don’t know whether my gray/blue darlings (the are Russian Blues) had anything to do with it, but I am no longer taking any chances!  I got out my trusty M&M needle holder and use it to keep everyone where they belong!  They also protect my needles (I use the harmony wood needles from KnitPicks) and I don’t want anyone with big feet to step on them.  I can be lazy at times and get up from my chair and just lay everything down on the floor thinking I will come back, and then saddly –  I don’t!

I have a surprise for my next blog entry (hopefully tomorrow) – I ordered and got my Wonder Washer!  I have several projects I am going to felt today in this little counter top washer and I certainly will document it  with my handy dandy camera and I will let you know how it goes!

Time for the rest of the house to get up and start their day.  I spent too much time on this computer placing a KnitPick order and checking Ravelry.  I want to clean the house quickly (called a lick and a prayer) and maybe get some knitting in the later morning early afternoon.  It should be raining by then……..oh joy!  (Actually, we need this rain.)

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I have expressed to several friends and family that I am feeling quite frustrated because I just don’t seem to get ANYTHING done in a day other than put in 8 hours at my job.  I get home and it is feed family, feed animals, do laundry, do dishes, pick up house ……go to bed.     What is up with that?????

Thought it would be good to show you what I do for 8 hours.  I certainly wish I could knit for 8 hours, but since that is a dream that will not become reality until I reach (God willing) the ripe old age of 75!

I am a your worst nightmare.

I am an independent  insurance agent.

 

 

You buy a car and you need to get insurance to put it on the road.   You call my office for a quote and possible policy.   I open up an online rater we have in our office that will automatically quote you with ALL the companies we represent in our office, saving us a lot of work in finding you the best company that will meet your insurance needs.   This can be done with auto and home.

(And yes, I do have two monitors and I LOVE it!  I wish my laptop had two monitors!!  You can get a heck of a lot of work done faster with two monitors!)

So I work up your quote which if I don’t get interupted by the phone can be done in about 10 minutes.  Everything is pretty straight forward and the machine really does all the work…… you will more than likely hear back from me within 30 minutes. 

 

 

I call you back, we discuss all your options, coverages, payments etc. and then hopefully you decide I have served you well and you make an appointment to come in and set the policy up!

 

 

You will sit at my desk, we go over everything one last time to make all information is correct.  I then hit the magic button and BAM you have a policy number, and ID cards for your vehicle and you are on your way!

 

 

You sign your name, give me your money, shake my hand and you are now legally ready to drive your new car!   Thanks for letting me help you with your insurance needs!   Let me quote your home now!!!!

There you have it, what I do for a living.   Since I graduated from high school and left my hometown for the “big city” I have worked in the insurance industry.  My first job was in the mail room of a large insurance company and from there I  worked my way up the ladder.   When I left the insurance industry to educate my two daughters – almost 20 years of working – I left with the title of  Workers Compensation Claim Supervisor.    

After finishing up with the job of educating my girls (they are now 24 & 21) I came back into the work force (I was absent for almost 17 years) .  I felt like Rip VanWinkle – I fell asleep under a tree dreaming about handling papers and manually calculating wages for my claimants.   I woke up to computers, two monitors, paperless office practices and a totally digital world.   I was so SCARED and so intimidated!    I am old enough to be my fellow workers mother!   I am old enough to be the owner of the agency’s mother!!!    I can’t tell you hard (and painful) this own experience has been!  

I needed a job and I believe the Lord gave this job to me.  I hung on, learned as fast and as best as I could, I prayed and cried a lot BUT here I sit.   It will be four years in September 2012.   I am now a licensed agent in the State of NY (which is no smal task in itself!) and will, God willing, retire in a few years.

This is where all my engery goes.   Just in case you were wondering!!! 

 

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