Archive for August, 2008

This could work!

I want a new laptop. have i mentioned that I want a new laptop? I think I have mentioned it, because I am making it a point to say it as often as possible so that eventually, someone will hear and take pity on me (or just get sick enough of me to want me to shut up) and I will get that new laptop. While I am waiting on that particular miraculous occurrence to occur, I am actively working at procuring my own darn laptop. I am being a pro-actively laptop covetous.

I’m also looking at the Charter Laptop-a-Day Giveaway and wishing they were available in my area. Not only are new subscribers entered into a laptop drawing, they also receive a $100 gas card. That’s like, at least a tank, right?? Tell you what. Some of you folks who live in an area that Charter services, go sign up. You keep the gas card, but if you win one of the 30 laptops, you can send it to me. Think of it as a finder’s fee. And You’re welcome!

Online Craft Club #40 Book Review

Ok, I know I have posted (twice) that I hoped to have an FO for you today. But I do not. Lately my stitching time has been limited to what I can do while talking to my kids about school, and while that is about 3 hours a day, not all of it is stitchable time. And also, it maybe takes more time that I thought it does to use up yarn. BUT! Here is Belle’s Blanket, crumpled up under my desk, waiting for attention. Which it will get some of today. F’reals.

IMG 0806

To make up for this shattering disappointment, I have a book review for you. And it is a goodie. You will want to pay attention, becaaaaauuuuuse! I will be doing a giveaway soon, and this book will be one of the possible prizes. If you visited yesterday, those words probably sound familiar, right? RIGHT! Ok, on to Sweater Renewal!

9780307396297How many of you have accidentally felted something? Here at Chez ManyManyChildren, I have felted more wool diaper covers than I care to count, including several that I have knitted myself. As an aside, I used to occasionally felt custom dye orders by not waiting long enough for them to cool, or forgetting to adjust the washing machine cycles. I’m only admitting that so you will know that I do have some felting experience, even if most of it is by accident. You could say that I learned to felt the heartbreaking way, and Sweater Renewal opens with just such an experience in Sharon Franco Rothschild’s life.

But the life of a sweater doesn’t have to stop with an accidental trip through the washer. From book covers and cell phone holders to a purse (It’s pink, ya’LL. With heart embellishments, ya’ll. And yes, I would totally carry such a thing in public, ya’ll) to a dog sweater, your felting pain can become a new FO gain.

In addition to the accidental felting projects, she has some projects in here that you can felt on purpose. The little girls sweater made from a larger sweater is just adorable. And the ladies burgundy sweater made from a larger one is just as cute as can be! What entices me so about garments with decorations on the back?

Finally, there are three projects that you knit and then felt, if you feel compelled to felt your own knitting. Which I admit I don’t usually feel compelled to do, but have occasionally with great enjoyment. The book is available now, and the cover price is $19.95. It’s worth more than that just for the ideas of how to salvage what would otherwise become trash-can tragedies!

So what have you been making? Or reading about making?

Take a picture of your current project, whatever that happens to be. Or maybe one you recently finished. Or the materials for the one you are about to start. Let’s say materials for a project in whatever state it happens to be in at the time you snap it. On Friday, post the picture and tell us about your project. What you did, or what you are going to do. How much you are enjoying it, or hating it. You know–show and tell.

Just copy & paste the code below the graphic and get crafty with me!

Be sure to come back and leave a comment so we know where to find you!

[tags]Online Craft Club[/tags]

Embiggen it!

Ok, we have officially reached capacity here. And then some. In fact, I am working on a new 101 list, and one of the things on it is too enlarge this house or move. Putting all four girls in one room worked in theory, because it is a large room. However, the babies are constantly in the big girls’ stuff and it is causing a whole lot of conflict. And some ill will, too. I don’t want the big girls resenting their sisters, so I am looking at house plans.

I quite sure that we could not move for less than 250K, and if you’ve read a word I have written lately, you know that isn’t even an option. Besides, I love, love, love my kitchen, and not even country house plans show kitchens this big and well laid out. I told my friend today that the first thing I saw when I walked in this house for the first time was that kitchen, and I knew when I stepped in it that this was the house for me.

I am liking some of the log home floor plans, particularly the usable loft sleeping areas. Even If I could figure out a way to incorporate those into our current house, it would effectively DOUBLE our square footage. Seriously, beds take up a LOT of room that could otherwise be occupied by sprawled out bodies crowded around toys and games, and I really want the kids to be able to do something inside besides watch tv. Right now, we can all gather at the table, and that is about it.

And since I am posting about embiggening my home, tell me some of your best space saving tips. Here’s one more of mine. Get the biggest set of bedrisers at Don’t get the ones from the store, they aren’t as tall. Then you can fit bins of craft supplies under your bed 😉

Cass in the Kitchen: Two Dudes One Pan

:kitchen: What can you make with a big bowl, a nonstick skillet, a classic skillet, a dutch oven, a roasting pan, and a baking dish? A whole lot of goodness, that’s what!

I had the opportunity today to look through Two Dudes One Pan and this book is all about lots of flavor punch with not much muss and fuss. In fact, it’s sub-titled Maximum Flavor from a Minimalist Kitchen. Given how busy life is these days, this is a treasure chest of good ideas just now. And remember a few months ago I moaned about wanting a dutch oven? Now I really, really want one!

This is a fun, chatty cookbook, and each recipe has a snippet of conversation to go with it. Vinny and Jon also go back in forth in the intro to the book as well as the segues into the chapters, which are named for the pot or pan you use for the recipes in it. And the recipes!

From the frittatas to the hot tip for perfect pancakes (extras go on the the pancakes right before you flip them, NOT in the batter) to the swordfish with fried green tomatoes (hello!!! fried green tomatoes!!!!) and bacon vinaigrette to the weiner schnitzel (if these guys can show me how to make that dish that I have been trying to replicate for 22 years, I will forever be in their debt) my non-stick skillet is about to get a real good workout.

And skipping over to the dutch oven chapter–hey I said I wanted one, and winter is coming, and I love to throw meals in the slow oven in winter–I’m salivating over the creamed brussels sprouts with bacon and the buttermilk-sage fried chicken. Buttermilk chicken? I’m so on that! And the beer-braised short ribs. Definitely need the dutch oven, ya’ll.

And as if by the TheClone’s special request, there’s even a recipe for pistachio tiramisu in here. Are you reading me, daughter of mine? Time to come see your mama! 1 2 3Okay here’s the skinny: Two Dudes One Pan will be available in stores next Tuesday. The cover price is $24.95. And I will be doing a giveaway soon, in which this book will be a possible prize. Shh. Don’t tell. Ok, I’m kidding: tell EVERYbody!

Life to Life

Can we talk about health care for just a few minutes? Thanks! A friend of mine’s dad (boy that sounds so complicated, doesn’t it??) is starting cancer therapy shortly. He’s had a port installed for chemo, but he is also going to have stem cell therapy. I was shocked to find out that you can actually get shots that cause your body to go into overdrive and manufacture a buttload of stem cells. Then they are harvested and used to help your body heal. I’m not sure on the specifics, but I do remember that you have to have several shots and they cost about $8,000 each. I’ll pause now, and let you get a grip on it. Several shots. $8,000 each.

Now, that is a lot of money, I think we can all agree, but life is priceless, and I daresay we’d all consider that a justifiable expense. And I’d like to take a moment to marvel that the human body seems to have had the capability to heal itself all along if we knew how to tap into it, and what an Awesome Creature God Created when He made mankind! K, moment done. Back to stem cells.

Did you know that umbilical cord blood has a high amount of stem cells? I remember it was talked about quite a bit when I was expecting DaBaby. And those cells are a guaranteed match for the baby they belong to, and have a one in four chance of being a match for that baby’s siblings. So, if the stem cell producing shot is worth $8,000 dollars a pop, just how much would being able to store and access cord blood stem cells be? Pretty valuable, right? But not as expensive aas you would think. In fact,Cryo-Cell Innovative Stem Cell Solutions offers a Cryo-Cell’s "Protect Baby, Protect Mom" plan to collect, test, prepare and store cord blood samples for 21 years for just $3,495. Less than half the cost of one shot.

But there’s more. Did you know that menstrual blood also contains stem cells? That messy mess we deal with each month while wrinkling our noses not only can cushion and nurture a new life, it also contains life. I didn’t know that until very recently. (Backing up to have another moment like the one described above.) And of course, your menstrual blood is a match to you, and may possibly match your first degree relatives. And with the "Protect Baby, Protect Mom" Special Limited-Time Introductory Offer it only costs $5,679 for your blood and baby’s blood to be processed, tested and stored for 21 years.

Now, I will straight up admit that I don’t have the money to afford such a thing. But if I did, I’d be on it. I think it ought to be covered under health insurance. If stem cells can cure lymphoma and Alzheimer’s, and reverse the damage of strokes and heart atttacks, we as a nation are FOOLISH not to mandate that cord and menstrual blood be saved. Stem cells can save lives. And without the killing of a single child. And that’s as political as I will get on this subject this day.

I’ll be back in a bit with today’s issue of Cass in the Kitchen!

Baby Bottoms By CassKnits!

collage Some of you may recognize this photo as the collage that appeared for so long at the top of the Holy Sheep Everything Pattern. If you are reading this blog because you found it when HSY was around, I want to tell you how very grateful Carla and I both were for the support and patronage of that business. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we hated to close the doors, but life just got too crazy there for a bit.

Anyway! I’m pleased to offer the old HSY Everything pattern under a brand new name: Baby Bottoms by CassKnits! But Carla, if you decide to join me again, I’ll change it right on back!

E-book for Baby Bottoms by CassKnits! Includes instructions for soaker, shorts, capris, and pants (psssst! We include all gauges too!) All you need in one easy e-book, and suitable for all knitters, from novice to advanced.

Question: “How do I use this pattern?”
Answer: The Baby Bottoms by CassKnits! e-book is broken down for you into three chapters by the gauge of your chosen yarn.

Question: “What is gauge? And how do I choose which gauge pattern I need?”
Answer: Simply put, gauge is the number of stitches per inch one obtains with a given combination of yarn and needles. With various yarn gauges you can create lightweight items for day use, or with thicker yarn and larger needles, a garment suited for even the heaviest wetting baby.

Question: “Once I know what gauge I want to knit in, how do I find what it is I want to make (soaker, shorts, pants)?”
Answer: Just turn to the chapter for the gauge you’ve chosen, and follow the directions! Its THAT easy! The Baby Bottoms by CassKnits! pattern is unique in that you can cast on your yarn intending to make a soaker, but then decide to make pants, even after you’ve already started knitting!

Question: “What if I need help?”
Answer: I’m here to help you! Just click the little email icon right here on this site!

1. Baby bottoms by CassKnits! Soaker, Shorts, Pants /Middleweight………………p.3-5
(CK’s Standard Middleweight and Organic or other WORSTED WEIGHT yarns)

2. Baby bottoms by CassKnits!! Soaker, Shorts, Pants /Lightweight………………..p.6-8
(CK’s Merino Blend yarn or other LIGHT WORSTED WEIGHT yarns)

3. Baby bottoms by CassKnits! Soaker, Shorts, Pants /Heavyweight………………p.9-11
(CK’s Thick n’ Thin, Chunky Merino or other BULKY WEIGHT yarns)

4. CK Short Row Method…………………………………………………………………..p.12

You get the e-book, and as much email support as you need for $15. If that seems like a lot, remember is 4 garments, across 4 sizes times three gauges. That breaks down to less than 50 cents per garment, plus you get my charming and witty email assistance when you need it. The e-book will be emailed to you, as a word doc or pdf, usually within a couple of hours, but up to 48 if you order over the weekend.

HD Radio

Because I live in the first area of the country to switch to digital tv signal (that’s right, ya’ll, our cut-off is September 8, just three weeks from now), I find myself visually and auditorilly tuned in to “HD”. If I hear it or see it, I am paying attention. And so, when I saw HDRadio, I paid attention. Digital radio is not satellite radio. It’s like your regular AM and FM stations, only… well, digital. FM as clear as Cds, Am as clear as FM and new music stations, too.

thumb78 lgYou pick it up on a receiver like this
Jensen JiMS 525i that looks a lot like a traditional radio, except it has an iPod dock. The broadcasts are free, so all you need is one of the new HD radios.

From what I read on the site, radio will be crssing over to an all digital format just like tv is doing. I didn’t have to buy a new tv because we get cable, but I will have to buy a new radio. Or three, LOL. I’ve been wanting one for my desk for awhile, anyway. I should get one with iTunes Tagging, so I can just download the songs I hear that I like.

Only mine will have to accept my Zen. Which, by the way, I have managed to hook up to my current boom box with a patch cord. Right now, the closest HDRadio brodcast is in Fayetteville, over an hour away, and I can’t pick it up. Of course, my current boombox plays CDs and cassette tapes in addition to my Zen. I’m not sure there is another in on the market that does that. Sigh. Do you ever get the feeling that you are so behind the times?

Embracing My Crafty Self

The other day, I was in Wal-Mart.
No, that’s not the surprise. I know I am always at Wal-Mart.

I was with my mother.
No, that’s not the surprise either. I am always with my mother, and I know you wish you were, too.

We were in the craft department.
No surprise there either.

We were looking at beads, and I said, “I hate me”. Whoa and back up. I thought about that for 2 nanoseconds, and I said, “No, that’s not true. I LOVE my crafty, creative self, but I don’t like it when I have no self control.”

And see, that’s where that “use it” philosophy is coming from. The fact that I love, love, love to create, but I really need to practice impulse control. And sure, craft supplies cost money, which is scarce just now (Thank God for back to school time and tax free weekend and all those new but broken computers because it means work for dh and we may soon be back on an even keel.), but that’s not the biggest part. More than money, space is at a premium, and so is the guilt I am willing to carry.

When I see all this stuff, I feel guilty. Guilty that it takes up so much room. Guilty that I spent so much money. Guilty that I don’t take more time for myself so I can use it. Guilt that I am not using the talents and skills I have been blessed with. Yes, I feel guilty for that. I am a self-conscious Southern introvert living an extroverted life. Guilt is my stock in trade. I eat, sleep and breathe guilt. If it is possible to feel guilt over something, I do. Guilty, guilty, guilty.

And so, part of the motivation behind not buying more stuff just now, and using what I have is to purge the guilt associated with a 20 year stock-pile of stuff. And after I do that, I can fully embrace love and nurture my crafty creative self.

PS: please excuse this maudlin post. It;s what middle aged women do. We analyze, we discover and then we feel compelled to share. Blah.

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