Monday, January 30, 2012

Trying Something New

I'm so excited, ok I'm also such a geek with a meat science background!

I have 3 batches of pork loins curing in the refrigerator turning into Canadian Bacon.  This is my first attempt at curring.  

Batch one is a dry rub with the Morton's TenderQuick and sugar.
Batch two is a brine with the Morton's TenderQuick and sugar.
Batch three is a brine with the Morton's TenderQuick, sugar, garlic, and southwest seasoning.

So,  every day this week, I need to massage the meat through the plastic bags and turn them.  They need to be in the cure for 6 or 7 days, which is perfect timing (for once).

Next weekend, probably Saturday, I'm firing (plugging in) up the electric smoker from Dad and smoking the loins - probably over hickory, because I have hickory small chips.  I have large apple wood and mesquite blocks, but no other small chips.


I can't wait to try them. 

We have the weights of each written down and after smoking, I will reweigh each piece and figure out our loss to figure out what our final yield is.

Sorry, no pictures, because of course, I forgot to take any while we were doing it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Stash Bash Backwards Momentum

I was doing really well.  I mean REALLY WELL only using things from my stash.

I mean throw-away-the-JoAnn's-flyer-well. 

So, awww, phooey!

I made 4 hats - from the yarn stash - this week.  Only have one model willing to wear theirs in front of the camera. That was 7 skeins of fat yarn.  Yeah Me!

One of the hats plus another one being worked on.
I finished this puppy blanket - another 2 skeins of yarn, plus a little.

Then, this happened:

THIS is a 3 foot tall bag of yarn.  Those skeins on the bottom, those are POUND skeins of yarn.  I haven't counted, but I think there are 23 skeins in there.

So, let us tally.  Skeins out = 9   (go me!)  Skeins in = 23  Net GAIN of yarn, 14 skeins and these things are jumbo sized.  sigh

There is a plan for this yarn from my sister.  I'm being tasked with making an afghan for my brother-in-law.  That would be my 6'7" BIL, so honestly, I'm not sure if this IS enough yarn, but jeepers, now I'm probably going to run out and have to go buy matching yarn to finish it with.  Not sure how I'm going to work in the skeins of hunter orange - maybe a stripe around the outside followed by a dark stripe.

So, this week, the stash bash has been busted.  shrug.

I'm joining up with Crunchy Catholic Momma for her stash bash report - where everyone else made some progress.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yarn Along Jan 25, 2012

Hmm,  is it still a yarn along if you aren't working on anything, but got a bunch of stuff done over the past week?

For lack of a better idea, I'm going to say Yes.  So, I'm following along with Ginny over at Small Things again this week.

Since last week, I finished the puppy blanket I was "test-driving" the pattern for. 

I also did up four hats, one for each of my kids and then one for my husband.  All of which are currently residing with their various owners and I have pictures of none of them.

These were all stash busters, except my husband's.  He took me out and we went to JoAnn's (I really love that guy!)  And he let me wander the yarn aisles, but not unsupervised!  So, HE ended up choosing a really chunky WoolEase for his hat.  (My 5-year-old was really disappointed that Daddy only wanted a dark heathered grey, she really though he should have some bright pink mixed in :)  )

Has anyone every participated in a Crochet/Knit Along?  Bernat is doing one starting in February that is a Mystery CK Along - where you don't know what the project is until you're done, after getting clues each week.  Mystery Afghan  I think I'm going to try and follow along on this.  It says that you build on each week's skills, so I guess I'm game to learn something new.

I have nothing going for a project right now.  I can't figure out what I want to make.  I think I'm going to work up some cute hearts again and do a banner for each of my kids' classrooms or at least their rooms.

On the reading front, I've really been on a fantasy kick and the best books out there are in the Young Adult section.  Here are two books that I've just finished and I've ordered the next books in the series from the library.

The Akhenaten Adventure (Children of the Lamp)The Lightning Thief

Both of these are REALLY good and now I'm waiting for the next ones in the series.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It was a Wonderful Weekend

And it's Tuesday when I'm finally getting around to writing this...

Saturday was looked forward to all week.  My husband and I were going to go out and the neighbor was going to watch my children...over night!  (We occasionally swap watching the kids overnight, because it's horribly expensive to find someone to watch 3 kids for 8 hours - eek!)

Bob and I had so much fun.  It was silly how excited we were about this - all week!  We had it all planned out.

We had decided to eat a big lunch instead of going out for dinner, since we wanted to go to a movie and the timing around the show we wanted to go to would have been weird.  We went to a new place that had been recommended to us by a friend.  The Timeline Saloon is a newer place that is actually next to one of the area's biggest Harley Davidson dealers/shops.  I think that there were several reasons that we hadn't tried it before.  One, we aren't Harley people.... not an issue - plenty of Harley representation and plenty of just regular people not in Harley sweatshirts.  And the second, even though it is only 10 minutes from our house, is that is was never on our way to anywhere.  Well, gee, for that food, it's totally worth a little side trip.

We both ordered the lunch BBQ combo platters.  Oh my goodness!  It was SOOOOOO good!  I had the ribs, brisket, and the chicken.  Bob changed out the chicken for the pulled pork.  They have 5 sauces and we didn't know which we would like.  The restaurant has that figured out - you order your meat "naked" and they bring out the sauces in squeeze bottles, so you can try them all.  The Blueberry Heaven was very good on the pork and the chicken - but not an every day choice.  The Hickory had a deep smoke flavor.  The Sweet and Tangy was our favorite - yum.

After stuffing ourselves and still bringing food home, we headed in to Green Bay for an afternoon for us.  We started at the local gaming store, we're friends with the owners, and bought each of the girls a new board game and a new one for us.  Poof - there went the gift card that Bob got from work for his 5-year anniversary, but it was fun.

Then, we headed to Hobby Lobby - where we just wandered.  JoAnn's was a different story, I got some yarn.  Yeah, I know.  Yarn?  Really?  But, I totally had a reason.  Bob picked out some WoolEase chunky for the hat I was making him (and he wore it to work this morning).  Then, I want to participate in Bernat's Mystery Crochet Along starting in February.  I've never done a Crochet Along before, but it sounds like a way to help me build my skills.  Essentially, it's a mystery pattern that you don't know what it's going to look like until the very end when you assemble.  You are given how many skeins of yarn you need, and of course, they want you to buy their yarn, but since you don't know what the pattern is, you don't know how the yarn will end up working together.  So, I bought the yarn (almost - the right stuff) for this Mystery CAL.

After that, we headed over to Barnes & Noble with the giftcards that Bob's grandmother had given us for Christmas.  I bought a sausage making book!  (I can't wait to get over to Dad's and get the sausage stuffer.)  Bob didn't find anything there, but we still had fun looking.

Next, we headed to Shopko and hoped to find a new dartboard.  Ours is 15 years old and bit the dust.  This store didn't have any, but we did get some sweatshirts on clearance.  I really like Shopko's clothes, even though we have to pay a little more.  Their kids' clothes are modest and well-made.  No dressing a 3, 5, or 9 year old in "hoochie mama" clothes, like clothes from Wal-Mart.

Finally, we walked across the mall parking lot to the movie theatre and went to see Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows.  It was better than the first Sherlock Holmes movie.  I can't wait until the 3rd one, because there HAS to be a 3rd one.

We were going to go out for coffee and dessert after the movie, but we ended up going home.  We ate WAY TOO much popcorn, ugh.

Sunday, we got to sleep in.  Which was wonderful, however, we slept late and didn't make it to church..  We played games with the girls, did some housework, and generally goofed off.  It felt wonderful

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Brrrrr and even more Brrrrrr tomorrow

Wow!  It is COLD out there today.

The windchill is went to about 25 below zero this morning.  Tomorrow, will be even lower than that.

And of course, it wonderfully sunny and deceiving, so Fixit wanted to play outside.  ABSOLUTELY NOT! 

I froze just taking the dog out and getting Bug on the bus.  Dog was so cold that she did everything before we got to the end of the driveway.  I really have to make her a jacket, because she has no fur.  Ok, she has hair, as evidenced by the results of daily sweeping, but it's so fine and thin and short.

Well, had a nice Etsy sale this morning so that is packaged and will be on it's way to International Falls, MN. I hope she enjoys her two Valentines gnomes.

Also, got my Valentine swap present sent out today.  I made my person a crocheted banner of hearts and included one of my regular, but pink, wool gnomes.  I hope she enjoys them.

Back to looking at soup recipes - it's definitely a soup day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Yarn Along - Jan 18, 2012

Good Morning!

I'm going to join Ginny for her Yarn Along again this week.

I got Fixit's blanket done last week and to my great joy, she has slept with it every night. I wasn't sure if she would like it, because it wasn't her "blankie." 

I also am working on pattern testing an "easy" puppy blanket for Mel over at Lazy Daisy Crochet .  I've redone the head twice, but I think he's kinda cute now.  Not the greatest color choices, but oh well.  So here's a picture of the head I've been working on, after several froggings. (you know, "rip it" out!)

Plus, I'm working on a project for a swap - that I'm supposed to send out by the end of this week!  I should make it.

But here is what I've been reading and working on for the kids.

Erec Rex is a series from the Young Adults section at the library.  It's where I've been able to find the best fantasy books - and I love good vs evil, where you know good is going to win, eventually, but also having to deal with internal doubts and struggles.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

To Do Tuesday - Jan 17, 2012

Today is a day of To Do

It did start out with a problem, darn dog got away from me this morning before Bug got on the bus.  Once Marley runs, there is no stopping her.  She actually came back 45 minutes later.

So, to do today:

- work on crochet pattern I'm testing
- make pumpkin muffins
- laundry
- dishes
- play super hero with Fixit
- look up sausage recipes
- figure out how to take care of the casings to get them ready

Monday, January 16, 2012

Some Days, It's Just the Little Things

Today is a day of little things.

Little things like:

*being able to enjoy a cup of coffee with my husband, instead of having it after he left for work. (He had the day off.)
*getting to play pirates with Fixit and getting to be the pirate captain!
*enjoying a few hours to myself to do whatever I wanted while my husband took Fixit to the store
*watching the kids play Simon Says in the driveway before getting on the bus
*having the neighbor call "Gun Shot!" instead of "Shotgun!" to be first in line to get on the bus
*playing fetch with the dog in the house and watching her TUG with me and just gently give the ball to Fixit
*catching up on some blog reading
*catching up on some fun reading
*having my husband cook the kids' lunch while I got to do a little running around
*while running around, I picked up hog casings and sausage cure - I'm so excited by this, I'm almost giddy...I know...isn't it silly, but I've wanted to try making our own sausage for EVER and now we'll get to!  (he he, little kid giddy)
*finding out that my Dad doesn't just have a meat grinder, but that he has a sausage stuffer and an ELECTRIC, I don't have to babysit out charcoal smoker, outside, while it's cold!
*ok, really, this whole meat/sausage thing for me has been a dream for a long time - I really was born in the wrong century, I'm good at this self-sufficiency stuff.  But, I'm also glad that I can do it as a hobby instead of as a HAVE TO
*and, getting asked to judge adjudicate two more forencics meets.  I'm up to 6 meets this year, so far!  Last year, I judged 8, which was a personal high for me.  So, I'm still hopeful.  I've learned that I have to send my letters the first week of the year, because no body else thinks of it that early!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


The puppets are done!  The puppets are done!

They are in the box and the postage is printed for them to get sent out tomorrow.  Check out some of the cute hair and eye combos that I can now do.

So, I'm going to work on my project for my secret Valentine exchange.  Then, on to pattern testing a crocheted blanket.   Sometime in here, I have to finish Fixit's blanket.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

More Puppeting

The eyes all turned out cute.

I have to cut out hair today.  (I'm hoping my SIL can come over and help me with that this afternoon.)

On my regular puppets, I do girl hair in pigtails and boy hair which is essentially the pigtails cut off. :)

I'm going outside my comfort zone to do these personalized puppets.  I need long hair, wavy hair, bowl cut, short hair and in about 6 different colors.  I know I will get it done and I know they will turn out cute, but gheesh.

I have decided that I will be taking pictures of all the "options" I can now offer and I think I will offer personalized custom puppets on Etsy.

Back to the felt and the scissors.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Busy Day with Custom Puppets

Had a wonderful surprise at the beginning of the weekend.  Someone messaged me on Etsy. 

Would I be able to do custom puppets for every child in her class?  Absolutely!

It took a few days to iron out the details, including price - which I was nervous about.

Price was not an issue - phew.  So, I set up my custom listing for 22 puppets! (and received payment promptly!)

So, I am now cutting out circles for felt eys (which is new to me, I usually use googly eyes).  I will be gluing the eyes together for them.  Then, I need to work on some rather custom hair styles - a departure from my normal short hair and pigtails.  Then, I have to sew an assortment of bodies.

Everything needs to be done and ready to be mailed on Friday.  Definitely doable, but I'll be feeling it by the end of the week, especially since I have a 3-hour catechist class on Thursday. 

But, the eyes will be done today, probably even glued.  Then, I can start working on the hair.

If I get desperate, I can plunder from my stock of puppets, but I would prefer to not do that if I can help it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Popular Toys - How Should They Fit in our Household?

How can I justify the girls having fairies and gnomes and "secular" toys (and me making them - even if they are handmade?)

How do these things fit into the Catholic household that I am trying to achieve?  Why aren't all our toys Saints and Mass Kits and  etc  . . .

I had a revelation about this, because I've really been thinking and praying and pondering.

Imagination = good
Acting out "real world" scenarios = good
good vs evil = good
wholesome activity vs brain-rotting TV time = good
watching them nurture and care for = good

My kids have religious toys.  Probably more than most people I know.  They also love Christian music and they listen to the Rosary on CD.  I will admit that getting the "GOOD" Catholic toys is cost-prohibitive.  They are made by little companies doing things the right way, but they are expensive.  I'm sure the cost is totally justified and that they are worth it, but it only stretches so far.

So, instead of stressing that they got a secular toy with no "meaning" for their birthday or Christmas, or heaven forbid, that I bought it for them....  I'm going to let them be kids and have fun with some of the "popular" toys, while encouraging their choices to go for quality instead of quantity.  (always a problem when the object is how many did I get? - we're working on that, too)

So, as always, it's a work, a progression, an attitude, a self-realization.

p.s. They just have to watch their toy boxes when I get on a role to donate all that "stuff."


I've been noticing a theme among the strong Catholic women that I follow through their blogs:  they are tired, they are discouraged, they are trying to find the light.  This disturbed me.

How could I find the faith if these ladies were having problems?  After all, I'm only little ole me, and these ladies are well-thought of, vocal, published, important women.

Maybe that's the issue...  I'm not helping them keep their lighthouse burning, by not keeping my candle burning.  The light in my heart needs to be strong to help them.

So, I took a small step this morning: instead of allowing myself to be mad at K for not doing dishes last night, I just did them! 

And, it only took THREE MINUTES

I was holding those ugly thoughts for longer than that. 

Those three minutes allowed me to realize that the flow of the house, our health, and our mental well-being work better when Mom isn't cranky and the house is at least straightened up.

So, I took another THREE MINUTES to wipe down the stove and the cupboards.  It'll take more than three minutes to go through the dumping zone of the cupboard top, but if I break it down into three minute segments, I bet I'll just keep at it, and the house will feel better.  If the house is clean, it is that much easier to keep it clean.

So, STAND BACK SATAN  and let me do my little part to keep my candle burning and help these public woman stay strong in the fight to enlighten and enrich others with the FAITH!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

That was a Good Nap!

You know you have fallen asleep HARDCORE when you wake up to the phone ringing and realize that it wasn't your 5-year-old that crawled on you in your chair, but the 55# dog.  Yep, she decided to take a nap with me in my chair.

Man, I was warm...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

More Yarn

I'm going to Yarn Along with Ginny again this week.

I'm working on Fixit's blanket.  I am determined to use up some of my fabric and yarn stash - so I can justify getting more. ;)  So, I decided to make it challenging.  I've had this pink for Fixit since last fall, the funny thing is that Grandma made her Christmas vest out of the same color.  Then, I start working on her blanket and she told me that she doesn't like pink anymore.  Hmm, really?  Yep, my favorite color is blue.  sigh  Here's what it is starting to look like:

It's the first time that I'm purposefully switching colors before I just run out of a skein.  I'm following the Clever Blocks pattern from the book I'm reading - because I'm horrible at following a pattern.  I finally have this one figured out, but it sure involves juggling the skeins of yarn, because the colors are carried up the side.

Here's the book:

The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet: *All You Need to Know to Crochet *The Essential Reference for Novice and Expert Crocheters *Comprehensive Guide ... Charts, and Photos for 200 Stitch PatternsI got mine at Hobby Lobby with a 50% off coupon, but I think it would have still been worth the $24, because there is a ton of information in here - along with picture diagrams for every stitch.  I can't follow the pictures, but somethings it just helps to see where the stitch is supposed to be.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Yarn...Precious Yarn....

Stash Buster:

Ok. does it count as a stash buster when you give some of it away?  I think it does and it's my blog, so I get to say "Yes!"  (Down 8 skeins to my mother, today!)

However, I had to really hold back jealous, covetous thoughts, when my mother came over to get some wool yarn. 

Now, I TOLD her that she could come over.  I even showed her which shelves the wool yarn was on.  However, I was not exactly expecting her to take 8 skeins of my precious wool yarn. 

I mean, my mother is going to use it for hats and scarves and socks for the grandchildren.  How could I think evil thoughts about her?  (especially since I showed her the yarn and didn't limit her selection - ok, I did, but only that she couldn't take the Wool-Ease that I have no project planned for, yet).

If you're going to make socks, take ugly yarn.  Nope, she took some cute purple and bright pink and light pink and some green.  I was actually okay with the pink and the bright pink being sent home with my mother.  The green, she could have taken all of the lichen colored green.  I let myself get upset that she took my cool purple and then she took 2 or 3 skeins of my white/cream color.  It was the white that got under my skin.  How dare she take my white wool.

Step back, Satan!

First things, first.  This is my mother.

Secondly, She's making my kids socks.  (and it's my mother!)

Then, I told her what shelves to go shopping from.  (and it's my mother!)

Fine. (agreed to quite begrudgingly)  I hope I at least get a pair of socks out of the deal.

If only I hadn't seen this tutorial Dyeing with Easter Egg Colors today of all days.  I had this urge to turn my wonderful white into gorgeous colorways of my own creation.

Ok. I'm going back to my corner now and working on Fixit's blanket done in wonderful Red Heart acrylic, but it's not as nice as my wool yarn.  sigh

Monday Musings in a New Year Jan 2, 2012

Right now...  It is 7:07 a.m. It is COLD (brrrr) outside.  Temperature is about 5F, but the wind chill is below zero.  Everyone in the family has a cold.  Bug is on the bus for the first day back to school.  K is staying home sick after having a stomach bug yesterday.

This weekend...  was New Year's Eve which we brought in as a two-snore salute.  I took Bug to the doctor, because I was sure she had a sinus infection or bronchitis.  According to the doctor, it's just a bad cold.  I better not have to take her back in later this week.  Originally planned on doing something with the neighbors, but we didn't feel good all week, so we did nothing.  I thought about going to Mass Saturday night, but I had been up half the night trying to sleep in my chair with Bug and I'm pretty sure that I would have fallen asleep.  After all, there is always Sunday Mass, right? 

Unfortunately, that didn't happen yesterday.  K woke up vomiting and with diarrhea.  So, instead of getting everyone sick at church and to stay and take care of K, we didn't get to Mass.  I know that it was probably the right choice, but I missed it.

Other than being sick, it was a weekend of relaxation (and taking care of sick people), so it was a weekend of naps and snuggles and drinking ginger ale.  I did manage to get a bunch done on Fixit's new blanket.  Only problem on the stash busting attempt is that I only had one skein of a certain blue, so I think I'll have to go get one or two more skeins of that color.  (But in the interest of stash busting, I had enough of the pink and the white, and I'll end up using probably 5 skeins from the stash.)

Some plans for this week...  Today, call the gas station I applied at to try and set up an appointment.  Working a few nights and some weekends would really help the cash flow around here, with the added benefit of getting me out of the house.  I also need to snuggle with some sick kids and suck down the tea and elderberry syrup myself.

Some time this week, I need to update my letters for forensics judging and get those mailed out.  I would love to judge again, plus the money helps out.

With everyone sick this weekend, the house looks like it.  SO, double time on dishes, laundry, and straightening out.  (There is a benefit to K spilling a box of cereal on the floor - the floor has already been swept! :) )

I took inventory of my Etsy stuff this weekend and it is now contained in one box.  However, that led me to realize that I have LOTS of stuff that I have to take pictures of and get on there.  (I hate setting up my stuff for taking pictures, so I have to get is set up and be able to leave it up for a couple of days, so I can take LOTS of pictures.)

I'm hoping to finish Fixit's blanket, if I can get the rest of my yarn.  I'll check with Mom to see if she can stop after work one day and get them for me. 

Friday, my sweet sister-in-law is coming over for a girl's day.  Ok, all the kids will be here, but we haven't seen each other in over a week.  We're used to seeing each other twice a week, but now that my brother is laid off for the winter, he watches my nephew.

This weekend, we have another play practice at church. Sunday is the day of the big performance.  My kids are so excited.

If I can find time for myself, I want to...  work on Fixit's blanket. Go to the library and get a couple of books.  Ok, in all honesty - I want to kick this cold and feel better.

Some prayer intentions for the week...  That we all start to feel better...that my sister's ankle continues to heal after being casted last week and that she stays off it...that the weather cooperates and my younger sister and her family can make it this weekend...

Something that makes me smile...  Wow, my brain just froze up and I can't think of anything.  I'm not saying that nothing makes me happy, just that my brain is tired and I can't come up with anything right now.

I hooking up with Nadja over at Patch O Dirt Farm today with Monday Musing.  Ok, I've got mine done before here, so we'll see if she does one today. :+)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year 2012!

Well, 2011 ended with a "two snore salute."  None of us made it to midnight.

Took Bug to the doctor yesterday with what I thought was going to be a sinus infection or bronchits.  According to the doctor, she doesn't have an infection - just a really bad cold.  I'm hoping he's right and that I won't end up back at the doctor's later this week.

Rang in 2012 is a less than glamorous way.  The stomach flu has been running through the house this past week, but I thought we were over it.  Nope.  K started with the "bucket" portion and has now added "stool" to her not feeling well.  I think it's another Sunday of staying home and taking care of the family instead of Mass.  I'm pretty sure that everyone at church will be glad for us to stay home instead of passing it around the congregation.

On a new awakening note - we got about 2 inches of snow last night to cover the brown outside.  So, outside looks like a whole new world.  Something I need to remember when guiding this year:  there is always a new beginning.  God will always give us a new start.

Happy New Year and here's to new beginnings with God's Blessing upon you.