Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What in blue blazes

... was I thinking?

I have 33 yards of 45" wide (that's over 371 square feet) hot pink taffeta sitting there waiting to be made into can-can skirts for a baker's dozen of 5- to 7-year-olds. It didn't seem too terrible when I thought it was only going to be for eight or so. And when I thought I could get the fabric in town. And before I had the great idea to put a 4" x 50' strip of netting gathered into a ruffle on the bottom.

Since I couldn't find 33 yards of coordinating (much less matching) fabric at the Big Name fabric stores (even on-line!), I turned to eBay. The fabric arrived today. I've got the netting already cut and in a corner of the dining room. I made up a prototype tonight and figured out what changes I have to make. Thankfully the design was spot-on, I just need to tweak the execution a bit. And get them all done in a week. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One project done.

Two down, one to go. But that one doesn't have to be done until September.

If the two recipients ever wear these at the same time in the same place ... I'll have to start calling them the Glimmer Twins. Or something.

These are en route to their new homes. Pretty close to the one below. Maybe the pom-poms could be a little bigger. Or not.

I don't remember where I found this picture. Sorry.

Monday, January 23, 2012


On Saturday, Sweet Daughter and Shorter Half participated in the local Powder Puff Derby (think Pinewood Derby for the Girl Scouts). The Boy Scouts had their Pinewood Derby two weeks earlier, and someone said they had 17 entries. The girls? Close to 80. Yeah. They weren’t prepared for that.
It's hard to focus when your subject is bouncing around like a squirrel on meth.
It was a single elimination tournament, and SD won her first heat, and came in second in her second heat. While she didn't place in the racing, she did win the medal for the “Most Patriotic” design. A flag in the front, and butterflies and flowers in the back – we called it “America the Beautiful”. But her favorite part? She insisted on a little round orange sticker on the back, with “Guns Save Lives” written on it.  Yup. Just like those on the family cars.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Let's see ... I've been working on these and they're almost done:

And there was this little project for Michael W. (cutler to the stars). Bless his heart ... if it involves a needle and thread, he figures I'm good at it. I haven't done any real embroidery work in ... um, I think I did something with yarn for my sister when I was in first grade. Counted cross-stitch just isn't the same. I won't tell you how many times I ripped those stars out and started over, but I quit counting after 6 or 7 attempts. Well, that and the fact he told me needed it at the end of January which translated into needing it in his hands on by today. The photo is horrid, but it hides a multitude of sins. I haven't decided if this has poisoned me on embroidery/crewel work altogether, or if it's now something I need to do more of to prove to myself that I can.

These are on the back of a Civil War sailor something-or-other.

Then there are the skirts ...

Sweet Daughter is in Daisy Scouts. In two weeks time, all the Girl Scouts in the county are getting together for "World Thinking Day". Each troop is representing a country, and is doing a dance and providing food samples, and stamping passports and the like. Her Troop is representing France. Their dance is the can-can. For some reason, I thought that by volunteering to make the costumes (skirts), I could help control the cost. Somehow, I neglected to see how many I needed to make. Look forward to more info on that as we get closer to the event as I'm having problems finding enough inexpensive fabric. Even Joann Fabrics online doesn't have enough in stock. Wish me luck, and send rum.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Just so you know ...

Just so you know this is on purpose, not just lack of content.

Image from here,  and here, and a bunch of other places.

Go read Peter and Alan to see why.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tractor Pr0n

Tractor Pr0n for the Adaptive Curmudgeon.

I learned to drive a clutch on a 1930's Massey-Ferguson. But these have been sitting on the edge of my mechanic's lot for months and I think of The AC every time I drive past them.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Review Haiku

Uncle Oinker's Savory Bacon Mints
Image from here.

Dusty white gems taste
like Bac~Os® dipp'd in Colgate
Short answer: Just don’t.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Car won't start, and won't take a jump.

School bus had a substitute driver and went right past us this morning. Luckily, she saw me chasing her down the road and stopped so I could get Sweet Daughter on board. Apparently our house isn't on the pick-up sheet.

Called my mechanic and they're sending a tow truck out for me, and only about an hour after the original call. Things are looking up. Unless, of course, this is supposed to lull me into a false sense of security before the next round hits.

Good news: The car was en route to the garage an hour after I called for a tow.
Bad news: It was the battery.
Good news: It was still under warranty.
Bad news: It needed new brakes in front.
Good news: We caught it before it got down to the rotors.
Bad news: The dome light still didn't stay fixed.
Good news: The substitute bus driver remembered to bring Sweet Daughter home.

All in all, this was just an (expensive) inconvenience. I wasn't trying to get out of town early for the long weekend. I wasn't stranded with Sweet Daughter 30 miles away in town. All in all it could have been much worse.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Linked by a car blog!

A very nice gentleman named John from My First Car e-mailed me and asked if he could use my story about Mr. Valiant.

Linked by a car blog. What I know about cars can be writen on the inside of a matchbook with a grease pencil. The next thing you know, JayG will be asking me about Harleys, Tam will ask my opinion about pistols, Brigid will want pointers on poetry, and Alan Gura will be asking me for legal advice.

Anyhow, go check him out, and if you like, offer to share your first car story with him.

Most of you have already see this, but

To the half-dozen of you that stop by here and don’t follow the gun blogs, go check out A Girl and Her Gun, and her post about the gun community. That pretty sums things up for me, too.
Also, if you’re one of the 3 women in the above group, you may (or may not) be interested in her give-away.  Many more items have been donated as well - check out her side bar.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm 2 today!

Sweet Daughter reminded me that today was my 2nd blogiversay. I’d thought it was somewhere during the second half of the month. Oh well. To say I attract (and least once before they run screaming) an eclectic bunch of readers would be an understatement. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been linked by the likes of JayG, Breda, Tam, SayUncle, and all the rest I’m inadvertently insulting by not mentioning them. I got included on the first Gun Blog Black List. I got to meet Alan Gura. I’ve been linked by Jane Austen’s World. S.W.A.T. magazine via Facebook. Some forum in Russia (no, not THAT kind, it was gun-related). I’ve been red-shirted (well not really, I didn’t die) by New York Times Best-Selling Author, Larry Corriea. I got linked to a very well respected 18th century knitting page. I got invited to the Second Amendment Foundation Dinner at the NRA convention in Pittsburgh and wore 5” werewolf shoes. I got a hit from someone searching for “milf dogs”. I got to be one of the instigators of “Open Carry Day” last June. I got to review a product for Brownell’s. The first time I OC’d, a Fud accused me of “bristling with ammunition”.  It’s all been pretty awesome.

Thanks to all of you for stopping by. I really appreciate it, even if you’re only stopping out of idle curiosity. Here’s hoping 2012 is just as entertaining. But not in the Chinese “may you live in interesting times” kind of way.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Stop the violence

Go over to Weer'd's place for the backstory.

Light a candle to stop violence? If I light five, will that stop more violence? How about I carry the means to keep myself and my loved ones safe, instead? You know what will stop more violence? Two extra magazines.

That's my Springfield XD. 16 +1 in the tube. There's 32 more rounds that go with it. I won't start a fight. I will do my best to walk away from, or talk my way out of a fight. I'm blessed I've never had to use it. But I'm also blessed that I have the right to carry it.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New nomenclature

Sweet Daughter acquired several new games during Christmas. I've had the pleasure of playing them with her, and she's quite ... proficient.  She regularly creams both Shorter Half and me at cribbage, for instance. She started owning us at Uno. I'm still holding my own at Mancala, but I'm running out of adjectives for getting soundly beaten at Concentration and the like. There's getting "spanked", "getting beat like a rented mule", being told "You're going down!" and the ever popular "I'm going to beat the pants off you!"

Which, of course, evolved into "I am SO going to Robb Allen you!"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Why I love the internet

I've had this book “Tea drinking in 18th-century America: Its Etiquette and Equipage”on my Amazon wish list of years. It's out of print. There is one copy available on AbeBooks for $144. This afternoon, I applied my best Google-fu and I managed to find a course syllabus from 2005 that had this listed as one of the readings. Lo and behold, the email for the professor was included as well. I figured what did I have to lose? So I shot a brief note asking if she knew how I could acquire a copy and she got right back to me with the name of an anthology that includes it. It's now on the way for under $15, shipped.

Why now, all of a sudden? Well, Military Through the Ages is less than 2 1/2 months away, and it's time to build up to "full panic" mode. Our cook has some rather ambitious ideas for a menu, and we're trying to find some warm bodies to play wounded soldiers.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Another knit cap

The knitting deities have not been kind to me this past year. Regardless, upon flipping through my print-outs from The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, I found this cap: [original]
The description is courtesy of Google Translate. It's not really an ikat, but it gets the point across.
and decided I wanted to try to reproduce it. Why? I have no idea. Maybe because it’s so completely unlike anything I’ve seen. Maybe it’s because I’m a glutton for punishment. But on Christmas Day, I got started. Technically, I should have dyed some blue wool and then taken that and some white wool and spun them into a variegated yarn. Not happening, so I went with Plan B.

So first, I took a skein of blue wool yarn that very closely matched the original picture, and I tried to see if I could bleach the blue out of it. Nope. Using a few strands to experiment, I increased the ratio of bleach to water and found it started to dissolve the wool but it didn’t lighten the color. On to Plan C. Next I took a skein of natural merino wool, and wrapped it around and around the back of a dining room chair until I had a giant donut of yarn. Then I loosely tied it in a few places and pre-wet it. Then I folded it in half, and in half again, and put two of the resulting bends into a small crock-pot, with the other two bends sticking up.

Yes, that's Sweet Daughter's Hello Kitty toaster in the background.
I went down to my Rubbermaid tub marked “dyeing” and dug around hoping I had some acid dye in blue left over from a project over 15 years ago. Score! It was a rather bright blue, but it was all I had. I trotted back upstairs, read the directions for using it in a washing machine, and then extrapolated what I would need for the crock-pot. This highly scientific method meant I took an old rum bottle (it was all I had handy, really! *hic!*), and put some water in it. Then I added approximately ½ teaspoon of dye and shook it up until it was well dissolved.
This used to hold Cruzan Blackstrap Rum. You recycle your way, I'll recycle mine.
Then I carefully poured it into the center of the crock-pot, trying to keep it near the bottom. Then I added more water until the crock-pot was almost full. I turned it on (no “high” or “low” on this one) and went and played with Sweet Daughter for an hour or so.

I removed the yarn from the crock-pot and dumped it in a colander and let it cool a bit before rinsing it so it wouldn’t felt into a giant wad. (Agitation and/or rapid temperature change will felt wool.) I squeezed out as much water as I could by wrapping it in a towel and then hung it to dry.
One side.
The other side.
Then I rolled it into a ball.

I got out some size 8 needles and started knitting a swatch. Got my gauge. Started knitting the actual hat, and one of my big fears came to pass. See that original hat? See how the colors just sort of magically seemed to alternate with a minimum puddling of colors? Well, I got the blocks of color.  Sort of like this, but bigger.

I couldn’t have gotten the colors to line up like that if I tried. So I quit while I was ahead, and swore quietly under my breath and then it came to me … change the size of the needles, and that should shift everything one way or the other. I found a size 5 circular needle, knit a swatch, calculated my stitches, and started again.
I knit for an inch and a half or so, did a row of purl stitches (so it would turn nicely) and then another inch and a half. I then picked up the bottom edge in the next round, knitting them together, and then just knit in a circle for a while. The next challenge was figuring out how tall to make it, so when I felted it it would come out looking right. One thing I’ve found over the past year is that when you double the bottom edge, it doesn’t shrink (much) when you try to felt. The diameter of the rest will shrink some, but proportionately the length shrinks much more. No, I didn’t remember how much more, so this time I decided to get all scientific and measure. But first I had to figure out the decrease at the top. I decreased 4 stitches every row until I had eight stitches left which I looped onto the end of the yarn, pulled to the inside and secured.

Then I put it in a lingerie bag and threw it in the wash with some other laundry, not noticing that the cycle was set on “delicate”. It came out of the wash the same size it went in. So back in it went, by itself, set on “regular”. I stood there and pulled it out every few minutes to measure the progress. After the length had shrunk 2”, I spun the water out and blocked (shaped) it over two mixing bowls to get the curve at the top and the slight flare at the bottom. The color also mellowed out a bit but is still well within the realm of possibility for indigo dye.
Sorry - picture's a little crooked.

Not a perfect match, but recognizable. And I'm not trying to recreate a couple-of-hundred-years-old cap. I'm trying to make it look like it did when it was new. I’ll call it a win.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Peppermint Bark

I tried making peppermint bark this Christmas. I researched recipes, found one that looked good and scaled it down a bit. I dutifully spread the chocolate into a brownie pan. I followed up with the peppermint/white layer and spread carefully crushed candy canes on top. It was too thick, and the crushed peppermint didn’t stick to the top layer.

So I tried again, tweaking a few details, and I still wasn’t happy with it.  I boxed it up and gave it to my sister to take with her on her travels. I figured somebody would eat it and maybe by then my name would have been left out of the loop. Well, Sister A gave some to Sister B.

Sister B emailed me today with the following tacked on to the end of her message.

This missive gives me an opportunity to tell you how banging excellent that peppermint bark was! Yes, was. I was hoarding it. I like peppermint bark, but this was the absolute best I've ever had. Now, we had some friend's down from Rhode Island this weekend, and they found it. It was gone in two hours. Damn. So now I need to ask you for the recipe. It wasn't just chocolate under that peppermint, it was fudge, wasn't it?

So do an older sister a favor, and share the recipe, so I can share with [more friends] (who also put a hefty dent in my supply).

And my response …

Are you sure that was *my* peppermint bark?? It looked like something the cat horked up in my opinion, not that there is anything wrong with that. I just read a bunch of recipes and then made up my own which is as follows.

Bottom layer: one regular bag Hershey dark chocolate chips. Nuke in the microwave, stir, repeat until melty. Then pour onto a waxed paper covered cookie sheet (I used a jelly roll pan). Put in the fridge to harden. While you’re nuking and chilling;

Take a box of candy canes. Unwrap and snap into pieces. If you have the patience, put them in a ziplock bag and abuse them with a rolling pin until they are of a nicely broke-up size. This will cause tiny little holes to appear in the bag, and peppermint dust to waft about your kitchen which is similar to cotton candy goo – it sticks to everything – but your bark will look nicer. Otherwise, toss it into a food processor and try to get it a somewhat uniform size so you don’t end up with a range of sizes from “chunks” to “sub-atomic particles”. The dust will still stick to everything, but it will be more localized.

White layer: one regular bag Hershey (we don’t get a lot of high-end choices here in [rural location]) white chocolate chips. Melt and stir as above. Then stir in 1 teaspoon peppermint extract and wonder why the mixture suddenly seizes up like a Mopar slant-six with no oil. Ponder what to do to salvage it and decide to stir in a little butter and a little vegetable oil. Heat it up a bit. Realize that it’s helping some, but you don’t have a lovely glossy, homogeneous mass, and the best thing to do is just dump in the crushed peppermint and punt. This is accomplished by dropping/spreading it onto the chilled chocolate and hoping it doesn’t melt the dark chocolate too badly. Put it back in the fridge to harden.

When cold, take it out and peel off the waxed paper and break/cut it into bite-sized pieces. Enjoy. You just may not want to look at too closely.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

We're in Williamsburg, having rung in the New Year with Michael W. and his lovely (and as Mike adds both long-suffering and sainted) wife and a couple of locals. I want to wish everyone who stops by a happy and healthy 2012. I'm not sure why most of you stop by, but I do appreciate it.

Sweet Daughter and Nancy R. waiting for midnight on New Year's Eve.