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Friday, December 20, 2013

A Box of Florida

This box arrived in the mail today! The fragrance in the house is heavenly.
 I always get a craving for citrus when the weather turns cold. The old Florida folk say that you need a cold snap to produce the sweetest fruit. One of my fondest childhood memories of Christmas is bundling up to go orange picking on a clear crisp December day. We'd go all the way to Lutz, which is practically in the center of town nowadays. We'd take "croaker" sacks and pick our way through the grove , then take a seat near a bonfire burning in a clearing and eat some of the oranges we'd  picked, throwing the peels into the fire. Ever since, the feeling of cool December air, the tangy scent of citrus and the sweet-smelling orange wood smoke would mean Christmas to me.
On the down side of the crisp Florida Christmas, it is almost traditional that there be a threat of freeze over the holidays. I seem o remember several Christmas dinners interrupted by all of the guests having to get up from the table, take said croaker sacks and pick the host's oranges before they froze. Good times.
Onto Christmas things. I think that this post is the closest I got to having any Christmas spirit. I've been looking at this scene for a few days now: the Christmas tree in its sarcophagus. It's annoying me with its presence, and I may just have to succumb to the season's non-negotiable social conventions.

I do happen to have a tip for you.
I don't think it will go away.
If you are like me and your enthusiasm is waning but you need to decorate anyway,
just get some centerpieces and throw them around. It's what I call "non-invasive" decorating. You don't have to do any major construction for the effect.

This looks like I might have actually decorated.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Another Florida Thanksgiving - Is There Any Other Kind?

I love Florida Thanksgiving. I might have mentioned that before.
This year's trip was abbreviated by about seven days. I didn't think it would make much difference but I was really sad to leave so soon. Usually we stay another week and Thanksgiving Saturday is spent watching the Seminoles and the Gators take a turn at going belly up for each other. Ever notice how no team seems to actually win? It always seems like one of the teams just let themselves get beat! The Gators had little chance this year against undefeated FSU. I even have some friends that are Seminoles - so congrats, Tallahassee Lassies!

I want to showcase the results of our gracious host Harley`s hobby, collecting and cultivating tropical plants. Collecting began on a small scale for Harley, who was looking for an activity to channel stress. The modest collection  grew to its present state.

Gathering after dinner at the fire pit.
 Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

They Should Have Prayed Harder

In their last regular-season game,  the Gators failed to fill the stadium, attracting only 80, 000 as opposed to the usual 85,000. Still it was a great afternoon with friends and fellow Gators.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A New Post! ( Are pigs gonna fly next?)

I know who you are - you faithful readers. There may not be very many of you - but I know you're out there somewhere. The  FeedJit doesn't lie.
Although this little boy is going to be giving him some competition!
So here are some new photos taken with the spoils of my milestone birthday - a Samsung camera. I do have something to show for my lack of posting - a new kitchen, Christmas cards getting ready to go out, and a new feature I have planned: "The Procrastinator's Guide to the Internet". I swear I'm going to get around to doing it.  I have lots of new technology to figure out between my new camera and a new phone. My last phone wasn't a smart phone; it was a special phone. The one I have now isn't smart, but it is a high achiever.

Milo the Wonder Dog - One of my favorite subjects since I don't have kids.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Remodeling continued

Progress is being made! Slowly but surely, the work is getting done. Roger and Kyle are at it every evening, pulling something down or nailing something up.

Current state of eat-in kitchen, now minus the lovely lino.

The living room, ready for furniture & accessories.
Current state of pool room: doing duty as ship's stores.
Fridge was relegated to the garage. Making coffee is now a multi-step procedure.
 I'm learning that a major remodel is not for the faint of heart. It is a lot of donkey-work and that takes some adjustment, as I've  been enjoying a somewhat effort-free existence lately. It helps a lot if you have a good teamwork going!
 I admit that I've felt a little exasperated at times. I've been through a project like  this before, but it wasn't because my husband and I were sprucing up our house - it was due to the destruction from the devastating Storm of the Century in March of 1993. This is a much happier event, so that makes the short time of inconvenience not only bearable, but enjoyable, knowing it was by choice and not by some awful force of nature out of our control. I'm sure that in the near future, I'll be alone in my wonderfully convenient kitchen, whipping up a grand meal, wistfully thinking of the closeness the Spartan conditions brought!
I did a little research this morning into the art of eating while your house is torn up in the remodeling process. This article is great: Surviving a Kitchen Remodel.

On to other things, and that, dear readers, is Christmas.
Yes, as a matter of fact, you can think of Christmas right now along with everything else you have to do!
Haul out your lists from last year and get them updated.
Now is the time to establish a general Christmas gift place, particularly for those gifts you do ahead of time like you always mean to do. The big problem is that you forget where you put the stuff  and you end up buying even more stuff to replace the stuff you lost, making for wasted money, and even worse, wasted time. So we're going to assume that if you have children, the best gifts to get right now are gifts you won't have to worry about hiding. I don't have that concern, but I do have to worry about finding the presents at Christmas time!
Due to my purging obsession, I always seem to have a spare Rubbermaid tote somewhere, so I designate one for gifts purchased AOC (ahead of Christmas). The gifts that I purchase are the small, "cute" gifts I share with my SILs and various adult nieces. I usually give the same gift to all of them.
The next thing I do is scrounge for some Christmas cards lying around from Christmases past and make up my cash gifts. It doesn't matter what the cards look like, because the older teens they are meant for will never pay any attention whatsoever to the card. ( Score!)
Start thinking about the Christmas cards you'll be sending this year.. Master your printer's options and use it to address your envelopes. This is a great time saver and a nice touch for your season's greetings.
Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A New (*maybe*)Technique Comes Your Way!

It's called magic-loop knitting.

This picture is from the great blog Knittingdaily
It's an ingenious way to knit in the round on one circular needle. I'm working on a pair of socks using this method.
It's actually less bother than knitting in the round on two circulars - not so many needles flying in your face at once.
I've done a YouTube search so you can peruse the videos and find one you like. Those girls do a much better job on those tutorials than I ever could!

Autumn is quickly arriving in the country. I`m enjoying the early fall hacks through the countryside. Thanks for reading. If you feel like it - leave a comment.

My favorite view.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Revisiting the Dishcloth

The perfect starter project, the perfect small project to take with you!
Here is my pattern:

Cast on 4 sts
Increase:  K2, YO, K to end of row.
Continue in pattern until dishcloth is as wide as you'd like. With worsted-weight cotton crafters' yarn and size 7 or 8 needles, I knit in pattern until I reach 35 sts.
Decrease: K1, K2 tog, YO, K2 tog.
Continue until there are 4 sts on your needle. Bind off.

Knit a bunch for your friends. They'll be thinking fondly of you as your lovely and useful dishcloth helps them complete those tiresome domestic chores.

We're redecorating around here.

This is the "during" phase. Roger's doing all of the work, including the decorating!
Thanks to all my readers - I see where you are trickling in. Many thanks especially to my Boston reader!
Have a safe and happy Labour Day.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Individual Trifles

I love trifles.

But you have to be one of the first to dive into a regular-sized trifle, or else you get stuck with the slop in the middle. My solution is individual trifles!
I started out with these glass candle holders form the dollar store.

Use your favorite trifle recipe for this - it's basically all about presentation! If you've never done a trifle before, layering is easy.

First is your dessert cream. Ue your favorite. I used the vanilla pudding recipe from Betty Crocker, only I added almond extract instead of vanilla.

In next are your cake pieces. Incidentally, this is a great way to salvage a failed cake!

Top cake pieces with fruit and more cream.

Top with whipped cream and a jaunty garnish and you're all set!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I WIll Have a Bust in the (Flycatcher) Hall of Fame

Last Saturday while relaxing on the deck of the cottage, I caught sight of something small flailing about in the water. Several seagulls tried to attack it, whatever it was.
A closer look revealed a tiny bird had gone in the drink - probably after skimming the surface for bugs. Luckily the little thing had enough sense to flap over to the floating dock where I could scoop him up. The result? I think I have a friend for life in the bird world.
He snuggled up in the hood of my sweatshirt and nestled there for about forty-five minutes to dry and warm up. For a while it looked as if he had no intention of ever leaving!
Milo probably thought he was going to be blessed with yet another "sibling".

Monday, July 8, 2013

Have you seen this horse?

He's not missing or anything. I just want you to see how awesome he is!
Thank for visiting!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Donkeys

I've gotten a few requests for this pattern that I'm knitting for The Donkey Sanctuary's gift shop, the Long Ears Boutique.The first attempts at this were a tiny bit frustrating, but I managed to handle the learning curve and I do believe some honest-to-goodness knitted donkeys will be going to the donkeys!
Large Woolley Knitted Donkey Stands 9" high

MATERIALS - Makes 2 donkeys

Two ounces of any 50 gram ball of double knitting in grey, brown or cream and small balls in yellow, black & white, and a few inches in red; No. 10 - 31/4 mm knitting needles; a short length of black 2 ply fingering for the features. Riling.

Note: This pattern is British. Work garter stitch throughout unless otherwise stated. Feel free to knit donkeys in any wool you have available, any colour or texture, as they all have individual personalities, just like their larger real donkey relatives here at the Sanctuary.
Key: Inc. in next st. = knit into front and back of next stitch p. = purl; k. = knit, St-St = Stocking Stitch; sts. = stitches

MAIN PART (For ease in following, mark one side of work with a marker or piece of scrap yarn as RS)

Front Leg:

Cast on 8 sts

Rows 1 RS ( place marker or scrap yarn) knit

Row 2 knit

Row 3 (RS) Inc. 1 st. at the beginning of the next row (9sts)

Rows 4 - 6 Knit, ending with a WS row

Repeat these last 4 rows 4 times (13 sts.)

Break off wool and push the sts to the end of the needle.

Back Leg: On to the same needle, cast on 8 sts.

Rows 1 - 2 Knit

Row 3 Inc. 1 st. at beginning of next row, then k. 2 rows. ending w a S row

Row 6 Inc. 1 st. at end of next row, then knit 2 rows.

Row 9 Inc. 1 st. at each end of the next row (12 sts) then k. 3 rows.

Row 13 K. 2 tog., k. until 1 st. remains, inc K. 3 rows

Row 17 Repeat row 13, then k. 2 rows

Row 20 Inc. 1 st. at each end of the next row (14 sts.), then k. 2 rows.

Row 23: K 14, turn and cast on 10, turn and k. the 13 sts. from the front leg. (37 sts.) Ending with a S row


Row 1 : Knit all stitches.

Row 2 : Inc., k. to end.

Rows 3 - 4 Knit

Row 5 : Inc., k. to end. (39 sts.)


Rows 6 - 11 Knit, ending with a S row

Row 12 K.2 tog., k. to end.

13th Row: Inc (head end), k to end.

K 5 rows.

Repeat the 13th row and then the 12th row.

K. 2 rows.

Repeat the 13fh row and then the 12th row. (39 sts.)

K. 1 row.

Cast off 25 sts. at the beginning (tail end) of the next row. (14 sts.).

Neck - Inc. 1 st. at beginning of next row, then k. 5 rows.

Head - Cast on 4 sts. at the beginning of the next row and 3 sts. at the beginning of the following alternate row. (22 sts.)

K. 1 row, then inc. 1 st. at the end of next row.

K. 8 rows.

14th and 15th Rows: K. until 10 remain, turn and k. back.

16th and 17th Rows: K. until 9 remain, turn and k. back.

18th and 19th Rows: K. until 8 remain, turn and k. back.

20th and 21a Rows: K. until 7 remain, turn and k. back.

22nd and 23rd Rows: K. 2 tog., k. until 6 remain, turn and k. back until 2 remain, k 2 tog.

24th and 25th Rows: K. 2 tog., k. until 5 remain, turn and k. back until 2 remain, k. 2 tog.

26th and 27th Rows: K. 2 tog, k. until 4 remain, turn and k. back until 2 remain, k 2 tog. (17 sts.)

K. 1 row, then cast off.

Make another piece in the same way.


Work as for the main part until the 5th row of the body has been worked (39 sts.)

K. 2 rows then cast off

Make another piece in the same way. Sew the cast-off edges of the underbody together, leaving an opening

in the centre for stuffing.

Sew along top of head & back of main parts to the top of back legs, then from top of front legs to the

beginning of head, leaving front of head open. Sew the underbody to the main part, leaving the leg ends

open. Turn to right side and stuff. Sew up the opening in the underbody.

Large Woolley Knitted Donkey - Women's Weekly 1954

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Make this bracelet!

It's a row-counting bracelet and it's easy.
It's a great project if you haven't done any beading before. The design and directions are from a very generous and talented blogger (wish I knew her IRL!) and you can find them here. You can also find a different style here, but I haven't tried it yet to tell you how easy that one is! That might be next on my list.
In my charity knitting, I'm still doing the donkeys for The Donkey Sanctuary. The instructions are English and 60 years old, so there was a learning curve I'm finally starting to overcome. Again - thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring Anyway

Looking back, I can't imagine what has kept me from posting for so long! I believe it was the ennui brought on by the long winter. I spent my days in front of the TV, knitting and watching scary shows like The Haunted.
This morning I woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground. I had two thoughts - one was '&@#% snow', and the other was: "Let it snow- the calendar says it's spring anyway."
Signs of spring: The return of the swans.
They fly in every year around this time - a sure sign of spring. Cars line up along the concession road to photograph them. They make a high pitched "toot" that distinguishes them from their geese cousins and grouped together by the thousands in a barren cornfield, they sound like cicadas.
Recent hair-brained idea: Join The Knitting Guild of AmericaThe Knitting Guild of America and attempt the Master Handknitting Program. I was just going to purchase Level One of the Master Program when my eye wandered over to the fine print in the course descriptions. It was gently suggested to first complete the "Basics, Basics, Basics" course. I smugly hit the 'check out' button and waited for my first lesson to arrive.
By the time my first lesson was returned to me, I quickly realized that this path I'm on is going to be challenging! The course instructor was kindly but firm about two things: my blocking technique and my tension. I'm on my Lesson 2 swatches and I've never stressed so much - even more than I usually obsess over swatching.

I've been thinking about being warm lately so I've been cooking tropical foods for dinners theses days. The latest was the all-time Cuban comfort food favorite, picadillo. Per usual - I didn't take a photo, but trust me to high-jack one from somewhere on the web.
Thanks for reading! It's Tuesday so Milo and I are off to Woodingford for our weekly visit.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Back again - with a great recipe!

THis is the BEST chocolate cake!
Sorry I don't have a real photo - I ate the cake already.
If you've ever struggled with chocolate cake recipes that are too dry, or not chocolate-y enough, this is the one for you. It's also very easy - you just mix everything up all at once and pour into the pan. It's so moist and sweet that you may not want to frost it, especially if you just make a sheet cake.

2 Cups Flour
2 Cups Sugar
¾ Cup Hershey's Cocoa
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
2 Eggs (I use large eggs)
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Buttermilk
Note that you can freeze buttermilk so you have it to make another buttermilk chocolate cake recipe later.
Can't find buttermilk?
Here's how to make a substitute...
Add 1 Tablespoon of White Vinegar or Lemon Juice to a measuring cup. Add milk and fill to 1 cup (240 ml). Let it stand for 5 minutes.

1 Cup Mazola Vegetable Oil
1 ½ Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Boiling Water
You can use 1 Cup of strong coffee instead of the boiling water. Doing so intensifies the chocolate flavor. If you're making it for children you might want to stick with the boiling water.

1. Preheat Oven to 300° F
(This is not a typo! This is a slow bake chocolate cake recipe.)
2.Use Crisco Shortening to lightly grease and flour the
9 x 13 in. Baking Dish.

(Note: You can this recipe for cupcakes and as a layer cake. I included the baking times for each option below.)

3.Place all the ingredients on the left except the cup of boiling water into a mixing bowl.
4.Mix at medium or medium high speed. After about 1 minute add the 1 cup of boiling water. Then continue to mix until all ingredients are blended and smooth.
5.Pour into greased and floured baking dish
6.Bake for... ◦9" x 13" Baking Dish Bake for
1 hr.


◦Cupcakes: 22 - 23 min.
Be sure to use cupcake liners.


◦(2) 8 in. Round Cake Pans - 45 min.

7.Test by sticking in the middle with a knife. If it comes out clean... it's done! If not put it back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes and then test again.
8.Allow to cool.

Here's the link to the recipe:
If you've a mind to - drop this blogger a line to tell her how delicious your cake was.
THis is what my recipe looks like after baking this cake for two years now.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Entertaining for Valentine's Day

Roger and I hosted a little Valentine's dinner with Jeff & Lisa - my bIL and his lovely wife.
With just one other couple, with whom we're really close - it was easy to throw together a special celebration.
The advice I first go to is from a dear friend's mother. She advised me that when you're having a dinner party - do your table first! If you're not quite together when your first guests arrive, your table - all set and pretty- will make you appear the most organized hostess since Martha Stewart.
For Valentine's Day, the red tablecloth I use every Christmas does double-duty. Polish your silver and crystal, arrange your flowers and you have a lovely table to welcome your company.
I finished  another item in my stashbusting campaign - this is out of  "Hempton". The pattern is available on Ravelry. Many thanks to my lovely model, my SIL Lisa

Monday, February 11, 2013


It's February.
Yay! Like I always say, the beauty of winter is the promise of spring. Have you ever read any of the "Miss Read" books?  There's a line I love in the very beginning of Gossip from Thrush Green. I couldn't find the exact words so I'll paraphrase. The character says what's nice about February is that we can take walks after tea. I'll be looking forward to longer days myself!
I've been busy with two new projects:  my new membership in TGKA - The Knitting Guild of America, and stashbusting.

This is the first project to come off the needles: socks for my sister, Noel - a most enthusiastic recipient of socks, hand knitted or otherwise.
 I simply have to use the yarn I have, but I probably will go down to The Wise Owl in Ingersoll and make an apology purchase. I haven't been in that shop for ages1 Mala most likely thinks me dead.
I'm also going to knit a few projects for Tabby's Boutique in St. Thomas. Of course, I'll include the famous "hat for a cat".

Some scenes to leave you dreaming of spring.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What's Your One Little Word for 2013?

Sometimes I can't stand the little twee things that become popular on the internets - but this "one little word" business I can handle. Last year it was "dignity". (I did my best with that word. Honestly I did.)
This year, in honour of my New Year's first activity  my word will be "volunteer". I'm hoping I'll do that word more justice than I did "dignity".
After a thrilling NYE falling asleep while watching Liz & Dick, (review: LiLo isn't as pretty as Elizabeth Taylor. Actor who played Dick had much better skin than the real thing.) I woke up bright and early New Year's Day.  Milo and I put on our uniforms and headed over to Woodingford Lodge for some visiting.
I volunteer one day a week. When you think about it, it's not that much time. I clock two hours with my grooming time and travel time. That puts me in the 100+ hours a year category: the volunteer elite.
(I'll pause now for the pats on the back and the "attagirl".)
It doesn't seem like that much work - KWIM? And I'm in the volunteer elite? Let me just repeat the old truism: if I can do it, anyone can!
I've done the traditional "pink lady" volunteering, starting with Tampa General Hospital in the mid-80's.The training was comprehensive and well-organized. I''ve used their standards of volunteer training as a bench mark in my volunteer life. I worked three hours a week in the ER. I was appreciated and treated well by all of the staff - and I got invited to some great after-hours parties. It was a great place for a single girl to do some community work - the men (attractive, well-educated) outnumbered the women. All you did was pick the age, the weight and size.
I volunteered later on as a "cuddler" in the NICU step-down unit at Shands Hospital. The training was sub-par and I had to fight sleep while cuddling the little nippers, but my volunteer experience fast-tracked me to a sweet part-time job in the hospital.
I'm happy to say that my training with the therapy dogs of SJA was just about as thorough as my TGH volunteer training. Support and training I think are the back-bone of a good volunteer experience.
You don't necessarily have to participate in an organized volunteer activity. I've thought about more volunteer activities for myself so I'll pass them off on as suggestions.
This is part of my stash. Modest in comparison to some, but enough to give Roger a facial tic.
For example - I was going to post about my latest knitting-related project: stash-busting.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Favorite Cowl Pattern

This is what most of my family/friends received this past Christmas. I've made about ten of them and everyone loves them. They're fun and quick to knit - it only takes one skein although the original instructions from Bernat say to use two - I haven't used more than one skein on any I've made.
The shaker rib takes a *teeny* bit of getting used to. I usually have to frog several times before I get my groove going - but since you only cast on two stitches at the beginning - who cares?
Bernat® Mosaic
(100 g/3.5 oz; 191 m/209 yds)
44315 (Ninja) 2 balls

Size 5.5 mm (U.S. 9) knitting needles or size needed to obtain gauge.

14 sts and 30 rows = 4 ins [10 cm] in Shaker Rib Pat.

Cast on 2 sts.
1st row: (RS). Inc 1 st in first st. K1.
2nd row: K3.
3rd row: Inc 1 st in first st. Inc 1 st in next st. K1.
4th row: K2. K1B. K2.
5th row: Inc 1 st in first st. Knit to last 2 sts. Inc 1 st in next st. K1.
6th row: K2. P1. K1B. P1. K2.
7th row: As 5th row.
8th row: K2. *K1B. P1. Rep from * to last 3 sts. K1B. K2.
9th row: As 5th row.
10th row: K2. P1. *K1B. P1. Rep from * to last 2 sts. K2.
Rep 7th to 10th rows until work measured along straight edge measures approx 12½ ins [32 cm] ending on 10th row.
1st row: (RS). Inc 1 st in first st. Knit to last 3 sts. P2tog. K1.
2nd row: K2. *K1B. P1. Rep from * to last 3 sts. K1B. K2.
3rd row: As 1st row.
4th row: K2. P1. *K1B. P1. Rep from * to last 2 sts. K2.
Rep last 4 rows until longest straight edge measured from corner cast on measures approx 28 ins [71 cm] ending on a 4th row.
1st row: (RS). K1. K2tog. Knit to last 3 sts. P2tog. K1.
2nd row: K2. *K1B. P1. Rep from * to last 3 sts. K1B. P1. K1.
3rd row: As 1st row.
4th row: K2. P1. *K1B. P1. Rep from * to last 2 sts. P1. K1.
Rep last 4 rows until 7 sts rem, ending on 4th row.
Next row: K1. K2tog. K1. P2tog. K1.
Next row: K2. K1B. P1. K1.
Next row: K1. Sl1. K2tog. psso. K1.
Next row: Sl1. K2tog. psso. Fasten off.
Sew center back seam.
Note : to make the edges of this item much more tidy, do the following:
at the beginning of every row, knit the first stitch through the back. At the end of every row, slip the last stitch purl-wise.
I'm not being sponsored - although you guys can chime in at any time! but please consider signing up at Bernat. They have tons of great patterns and lots of info.
Thanks for reading - and happy knitting!