Friday, September 22, 2017

Analog is Me

We live in a digital age. I know this, believe me. I shoot with not one but two big digital cameras. I edit all photos on a big computer with powerful software. I work for a software company that deals every day and all day with public data. 

We all know that I love Instagram and Facebook and Twitter.

Don't try to take my iPhone away from me because I might have to cut you. 

And my iPad. Oh my iPad. Bringer of documentaries on Netflix and "Grantchester" on Amazon Prime. 

Dropbox, Evernote, Pepperplate, Ravelry. Digital, my life is digital.

But not completely. Not totally. There are still a few wild and woolly analog outposts in my life. There is the whole reading physical books. Don't get me wrong, I read a lot of digital books. I read a lot of books period. But I also read a lot of analog (for lack of a better term) books as well. I walked past a woman in CostCo yesterday and she was telling her teenager, who was holding up a book for her to see and possibly buy, "You can just put that book down. It is like, I don't know, 700 pages and you know that is about 659 pages more than I am ever going to read." 

It broke my little bookworm's heart to hear that. I can't imagine reading anything and everything that I can get my hands on. I have been known to read the ingredients on the can of bathroom spray if I can't find anything better to read while having my...golden moment.

TMI? You can't be surprise. Surely you can't.

I know that when the grandchildren arrive and are old enough....they get books. Of course, they also get candy for breakfast, but that is another story.

So, there is a place I am going with this whole analog thing. I swear there is. There is a corner of my life that I have deliberately switched back to analog from digital and I couldn't be happier.
Crazy as it sounds (and my brother, who is all things digital would say it is crazy), I have never been happier with my choice to go analog with my Bullet Journal and research information.

I have always been a person who enjoys writing things down in a physical way. I have loved lists all my life. I was that odd person in college who took notes in class and then re-wrote the notes as a way of studying and retaining things. Those notes were a thing of beauty and allowed me to achieve an "A" in my Med-Surg nursing course.

Of course the fact that I allowed the Neurosurgeon I was shadowing to convince me, a nursing student although admittedly an overly competitive nursing student, to scrub in and assist in surgery (and by assist I mean that he handed the little instrument to me and allowed me to remove brain tissue) might also have helped in achieving an outstanding grade. I wasn't sure how things would turn out when I realized the instructor was looking in and seeing what I was doing. But that is another story for another time.

I can say with some certainty that at this point I don't see myself going back to keeping lists and to do things and planning pages and all the minutiae of my day to day existence in any digital form.

ANALOG FOREVER! is my rallying cry.

At least until I want to check my Instagram feed....of which I have two by the way.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Mystery Box

We all know that I knit socks.

This year I am participating in something called the "Box O Sox 2017 KAL"

What is a KAL you might ask yourself. Don't you hate it when someone smugly uses an acronym that you don't understand? If you are like me, you sit there and try to work it out in your head cuz you just don't want to ask.


There, that wasn't so bad. Now if we were talking about a SPAKAL then all bets are off right? (Spin A Long, Knit A Long). Oh we knitters and our incomprehensible speech. Thank goodness you don't sit in on knit night with the KnitSibs. You might need a knitting dictionary as we throw around terms and phrases like:

"I am loving this brioche knitting!"

"Is that an SSK or a K2Tog?"

"The charted pattern took me a bit to figure out but once I got the color dominance down I was on my way."

Where was I?

Socks. Yes, thank you. The Box O Sox 2017 KAL I think.

What IS the Box O Sox 2017 KAL you ask yourself. Well, it means that as I go along in the year 2017 and I knit socks, after those socks are finished, washed, blocked, photographed and put up on Ravelry I put them away in a box and I don't wear them.

I know. It is hard to believe. Let me say that again.

I do not wear them. I do not put them into podiatric rotation.

There is a specific reason for this. It is sort of like a gift to myself. I knit 12 pair of socks, one for each month, put them in the box and then on New Years day 2018 I open the box up and there are 12 pair of socks that have never been worn. Welcome to 2018!

Since I think I am going to do this every year I actually went to Hobby Lobby and got a special box and decorated it. Who doesn't want a box that has Sock Monkey paper and Llama/Alpaca washi tape.

And we won't even talk about my current obsession with washi tape. We won't talk about it at all. Not a bit. Not even about the 3mm washi tape that I buy. Nope.

I see the box every day when I go into my closet. And I think about the socks. And I can hardly wait for New Years Day. Of course, it has been a really warm summer so I haven't worn any wool socks for 3 months. But I still dream about them.
New Years Day is going to be so good.

It had better be because NYD 2017 saw me laid out on the couch trying to cough up a lung with the pneumonia.

2018 you had better be nicer.

Friday, August 25, 2017


Yes, folks.

The sourdough starter is alive. Let's talk about it shall we.

When last we spoke, I had finally been "starter shamed" into getting my carefully prepared, and at one time tenderly nurtured, home developed sourdough starter out of the basement refrigerator where it had been languishing, unloved and starving for............18 months. I had only a glimmer of hope that it might be resurrected. Yes, after I had done "starter surgery" and fed it, there were bubbles and hope raised it's feeble head. But, bubbles do not a sourdough loaf make.

And can I just say that basement refrigerators, while extremely useful in so many ways, are the place where things go to die. Just saying. I finally cleaned out several jars of pickling experiment that I had carted over from OCK, 4 years ago, and hadn't eaten (I am the only one here at Chez Knit who eats pickles). They had languished in the basement frig as sort of a pickling science experiment and they weren't getting any better. So I tossed them.

Where was I? Oh yes, the starter.

Well, last Saturday, after several days of feeding, I thought I might give the starter a try. I had found a recipe that seemed easy (my first mistake with sourdough!) and so I embarked. What better thing to do on a Saturday.

It was not a success. And when I say it was not a success I mean you could use it as some sort of weapon to bash someone's head in OR perhaps as a hockey puck, even perhaps a weight during your workout. Whatever your choice I would not have suggested that you eat it. HHBL was like, "NO, don't throw that away!!" But I love him too much to do that to him.

And I am a perfectionist. We were not going to eat that. But, I was also not going to be defeated by a jar full of little living organisms swimming in water and flour. I have opposable thumbs thankyouverymuch. So, I fed them several more days and looked at more videos on YouTube and looked at Pinterest (I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest that I will explore some other time) and waited. And I realized something. The thing that I really didn't take into account when making that first boulder loaf is that sourdough takes a LOOOOOONG time. Not long in the making of the dough, that I can now accomplish in about an hour. Nope, the proofing takes 12+ hours and THAT my friends is where I had totally screwed up on the first loaf. I am a long standing baker of bread with packaged yeast. I fear it not. But, yeast bread made with those little packages, or in my case measured out from a jar, rises fast and sure. With sourdough you just have to make the dough, trust that it "feels" right and then let all those organisms get busy in the frig overnight, at least 12 hours or more.

So Wednesday evening, after dinner and before the Indians game, I got to work making my next batch. I did my measuring (measure with a scale people!!) and mixing, and autolyse phase, and adding salt, and slap and knead, and stretch and fold. Then I floured a surgical towel (another story for another time but just let it me known that I have enough of these to outfit an entire surgical suite) and put it and the loaf in a colander and stuck it in the basement frig for 14 hours. I pulled it out on Thursday, followed the baking instructions and hoped for the best......
Folks, I have made sourdough bread. And can I just say that it is amazing. I was so excited about it that I made another batch yesterday afternoon and put it in the frig and then really quickly got it baked before leaving to drop Coco off at the dealership (Takata airbag recall) and then scooting to the office.......

The sky is the limit from here my friends.

And we are SO having BLTs this week.

Friday, August 18, 2017

I May Have Killed It...Or Not

I go through these phases. I think, "Oh I need to learn to do that!" Then I do it. Then I move on. Sometimes things "stick" and sometimes they don't. Knitting seems to have stuck. Scrap booking did not. Does anyone need any scrap booking materials. I have them.

A while ago I decided that I needed a home developed sourdough starter. I KNOW that I told you about it but for the life of me I cannot find the blog post that covered that. If I could just get my bahookie in gear and finish my spread sheet with all of my blogs over the past nine years I might have had better success than the whole floundering around and looking at years and trying to figure out which catchy title actually had the sourdough blogpost in it.

Where was I?

OH yes, sourdough. 

I went to all the trouble of growing my own sourdough starter (it isn't that hard) and using it for a while but then....then.... I have no idea why I decided that it would be a good idea to store the starter down in the basement refrigerator. I know for sure that I would never have thought to throw it out. It had use and as we ALL know I suffer occasionally from a severe case of BIMNISD (again, there is a blog post on this. There perhaps might be more than one. I cannot find them. Moving on.)

For whatever reason, at some point I stored my starter in the basement frig. My upstairs frig is very small and space is at a premium so that is most likely the reason why the starter ended up downstairs. But the result of the reason is that the starter went down into the basement and then just sort of stayed down there like a college student who has come home without a job, languishing in the basement. You know it is down there. You know you should do something about it but you figure, "I will take care of that tomorrow." And tomorrow never comes.

Every time I had to put something into the basement frig or get something out of the basement frig, I would see that container. It would sigh and suggest I use it. It would squeal with delight when I opened the door and then groan with depression when I passed over it.

Do I anthropomorphize things too much? Maybe.

This is probably the time to give you just a bit of sourdough starter knowledge. As the starter sits for any period of time and isn't regularly used a black looking liquid will form on the top. That is called "hooch" and it is exactly what you think. It is alcohol which is really the waste product of the yeast in the starter. It is also telling you that the starter is hungry and hasn't been fed. You can just pour the liquid off and then feed the starter.

Yeah, my starter had a black liquid on it for at least a year. So very appealing and, lets be honest, just a bit scary. After a certain point in time I just preferred to act like that container wasn't even there. I see nothing and move on. We all have that lingering science experiment somewhere in the depths of our refrigerators. Don't tell me that you don't! OK, maybe Heather K doesn't. I have seen her refrigerator and it is spotless and organized. But don't the rest of you tell me that there isn't something lurking. I will KNOW that you are lying.

What happened next is really all the fault of YouTube. I started watching videos produced by Simple Life Homestead (blog). Here is their YouTube channel. Why do I care? Well because Michelle of SLH was Cartoon Girl's BFF all through school. Two more different people there cannot be on the planet and yet. Bonded for life. I have been obsessively watching their videos and got to the series on Sourdough starter and I remembered.....

Yesterday was not a day at the office and I was in the midst of one of my "make all the things" jags so I gingerly brought the container upstairs to the light of day. And I opened the container. And it was so disgusting that....I didn't even take a picture of it. That is how funky it was in there. 

But I would not be deterred. Who cared if there was actually some fuzzy mold growing on the sides of the container? Not me. Mold is good for you. Just think Penicillin! Who cared if there was a whole boatload of hooch just floating sullenly on the top of the starter. That hooch is not the boss of me! I laugh in the face of unknown mold.

First thing to do was to drain off the hooch. That was just a pleasant job. Not quite Sam Tarly serving soup and cleaning poop gross (sorry all you non-Game of Thrones people) but it was still yuck! Then it was a matter of what to do with the sort of funchy growth on the sides of the container and the top of the starter. The starter itself was fairly solid, which I expected since it had been sitting for a long time. It wasn't dried out but was sort of the consistency of whipped cream cheese. It was also giving off a very "alcoholy" smell, also to be expected. I decided that the better part of valor was to just scrape off the top of the starter and then extract from the middle, avoiding the sides.
This is what it looked like once I had removed all that I thought was viable. Take a look at all the yummy stuff on the sides. All the rest of this was scraped out and discarded. Thank goodness!!

Then, because I am a nerd, I measured out what I had been able to safely extract and it came to about 1 cup worth of starter. I didn't want to use all of that in one jar so I actually then split it into two separate starters. Then, because I am REALLY nerdy sometimes, I weighed out each of the starters to see what was what. I came up with about 66 grams per starter. Then, because it is always better to weigh out your ingredients rather than just using a measuring cup (nerd alert again), I actually weighed out 66 grams of flour and 66 grams of warm water (times 2) and add it to each of the starters, stirred it around and covered them up. They did not smell all that promising. 

The initial process was completed around 11a. I kept an eye on them all through the day but not much happened. I fed them each again at 8p, covered them with a towel and went to bed. And this morning........

Bubbles, it has nice bubbles. That is good. And it smelled less alcoholic and a bit more sourdough startery. We might have lift off people. I discarded half of each of the starters, fed each of them with another 66g of flour and 66g of warm water before I left for work and I put them in a place that is warm and draft free. If they are in the least happy I may, just may, try and bake with one of them tomorrow. If not tomorrow then it will more likely be on Tuesday. 

This must be how Dr. Frankenstein felt........ before the monster tried to kill him that is.

I will keep you posted on the progress but I am optimistically excited about this.

But now I have two starters and I really only need one.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Why Couldn't They Just Update It?

We all know that I love my technology. Well, all except for my actual to do list, where I have gone back to being an analog loving Luddite. And very happy I am with my modified Bullet Journal. But the rest of my apps that live on my phone and my iPad are part of my daily life. They all have a purpose. I don't like apps that I use once every three months or longer. That just means that the rest of the time they are sucking up space on my phone and I already have problems with using up the space on my phone.

But there is a problem with technology. It isn't static. It gets updated. They can't just leave things alone! Rude! The worst thing is.....when a developer stops updating an app that you DEPEND on and then Apple starts sending you little urgent messages saying things like,

"This app hasn't been updated in awhile and might slow down your iPhone!"

Yup, got it. I don't care if it slows the phone down just so long as it is doing what I want it to. But then comes this message. And then all bets are off.

"Contact the developer because this thing isn't going to work after the next iOS update!"

NOOOOOOO! Dang it times 20. Now, I am going to let you into a little something about me. Try not to be too surprised by this. 

I like my world to be neat and orderly. I KNOW! Quel suprise! HHBL looked at me the other day and said, "You really just need to clean something out every day don't you."

Ummm, YES! I like order. I like organization. When I am stressed I organize something. It makes me feel all warm and comfy and like I have control over my life. Heck, I was stressed a bit last week and organized and cleaned out my already well curated closet and then put a rug on the floor in there. Then all I wanted to do for the rest of the week was sit in the closet and be happy. Everybody does this right?

One of my favorite apps is the one that I use for my grocery shopping list. I have this thing, you see, about wanting to know EXACTLY how much I am going to spend at the store. My resources are finite in this regard and I need to have some control. So for the last 4 years or so I have been using an app that I actually PAID FOR and that I love. My list is very detailed, depending on store (Giant Eagle, CostCo, Heinens), it is well curated and it has taken a long time to get where it is. And this morning........

I got the dreaded "Call the developer and make him update your app because it is soon to be toast" message. Huh, WHAT? It hasn't been updated in a while? Like how long? Well, it turns out it hasn't been updated for three years. That is like I am driving the Edsel of grocery apps in the age of Tesla cars. Crap. Just what I want to do on a Saturday morning is try to find another grocery app that suits me. My brain just about exploded when I pulled up all of the possibilities.

But I have found something I think will work. It gets great reviews. And currently it seems like it is updated with regularity. I actually PAID for the upgraded app. I hate to pay for apps but it seemed like it was going to be necessary. But now, now I have to actually redo my ENTIRE list. Oh the pain and agony of this. Before I even started on that little monumental project I had to weed through all of the items that they "conveniently" had already input into the app because SURELY I would need to buy Utskho Suneli (what the heck IS that?) or perhaps some Belgian Pralines (don't think so). Or perhaps I wanted to choose between Tampons and Internal Tampons. Hmmmmm, definitely a list that was made by a man. Tampons, by their very nature, are internal. I have never seen a tampon worth a damn that was "external. An external tampon just means that you sneezed really hard. Nor was I ever going to chose the option of "Beef liver" of "Calf liver". Not even if I was starving.

So what am I doing on this lovely Saturday morning in between hanging out loads of laundry on the line? I am getting my new grocery/shopping list up to snuff.

The struggle is real. And this is stressful enough that I am looking for something to clean out this afternoon. Anyone have a closet handy because all of mine are neat as a pin.

Friday, June 9, 2017

A Cautionary Tale

Yeah, yeah. I know. Who am I.  Moving on.

I am attempting to type this blog post on my ipad without using my right thumb. Do you know how difficult that is. It is even more frustrating because the reason that I have that lovely brace on is because I have been stupid. Too much computer work and too much concentrated knitting will get you.....

De Quervain's tendonitis.

Otherwise known by the lovely name of "Mommy thumb." Look it up. You will probably be able to type it out faster than I can at the moment. I am a very fast and efficient typist, when I have the use of all of my fingers that is. You don't realize how much you use your right (or left) thumb until you don't have it.

The worst part of this, other than the fact that without the brace on, when I move my thumb in a certain way it feels like someone is simultaneously trying to rip my thumb off and stabbing my wrist with a red hot poker....

I am unable to knit. Just saying that makes me jittery. I knit when I watch TV. I knit when I read. I knit to calm myself down. That means that I knit every day for some portion of time. That has never been a problem before, but then HHBL and I drove to DC for a conference, and I knit almost all the way there and all the way back. Plus I have been doing a lot of repetitive motions on the computer. All was fine it seemed. There were slight "twinges" here and there but I ignored them, idiot that I am.

Tuesday morning I woke up and oh Mother Mary and all the saints did my wrist, right at the base of my thumb hurt and moving my thumb in certain ways made me wince for sure. Same on Wednesday and then last night the pain was so bad that it woke me up several times.

So here I am, with a "thumb stabilizer" that I will be wearing at all times unless showering and washing dishes. No heavy gardening, no knitting.

What makes this so very frustrating for me is that I KNOW the rules of knitting self care. You knit for no more than 20 minutes before you take a break, put the pointy sticks down a d do something else for a bit. You do not knit in 2 hour blocks. Idiot.

Also, I cannot take any NSAIDs like Ibuprophen. I can take Tylenol but it doesn't have the anti-inflammatory effects. I am a whiney, knitter unable to knit.

Fear me.

Friday, February 17, 2017

What Does That Switch Do?

A post also known as, "I guess our whirlpool tub does work."

I know, you have been missing my little "this could only happen to me" posts. I haven't done one in a long time. Things happen, I just haven't written about them. But this one is a classic, although it doesn't involve rivers of water or clogged toilets. It involves our whirlpool tub.

I have a love hate relationship with whirlpool tubs. I am not, but nature, a bath person. I am a shower person. I am a short and efficient shower person. You can thank my dad for that as I wasn't always such. I was a typical teenager who took her water resistant transistor radio (if you don't know what that is look it up) into the shower so that I could sing along on the AM station with the top hits of 1975. That is I WAS that typical teenager until I routinely would use all the hot water in the tank. Then I was no longer that typical teenager because my dad said, "You can take as many showers as you want...but they can be no more than 5 minutes long. We all need hot water in the morning."  

OK then, short showers it was.

We had a whirlpool tub at OCK, it came as a part of the custom house package. It was one of the few things that I didn't really make a decision on. It was there in the plans. It got put it. And in the 13 years that we lived there I used it less than 10 times. We had a well. Wells are tricky things. That tub used as much water as it would take to solve the California drought. Every time I filled up that tub I could hear my well gasping with distress. I will say that it is nice to get into a whirlpool tub after a long day of yard work...but still....the well guilt was strong.

And then we moved to Chez Knit. And there was another whirlpool tub. When we had Chez Knit inspected before the purchase, the inspector could not get the buttons on the tub to work. We just added it to the list of things that we would eventually fix. It wasn't a priority because there was also a shower (and remember, I am a shower girl.) In the mean time the tub was just the place that we draped wet towels and wet tee-shirts and a ledge to put things on and.....

You get the picture.

I occasionally used it just to soak in the tub with some epsom salts. I will admit that it is a good way to relieve some stress. And add a glass of wine and a good book. I am OK with this.

And then on Wednesday that all changed with one little question. HHBL walked into the bathroom, looked at this innocuous little timer switch on the wall by my sink area and asked, "Hey, what does this switch do?"

I am going to admit that I had never really investigated the switch. It looks just like one of those timer switches that you see in hotel bathrooms that turn on the "heater lamp" so you can be all toasty warm and live out your fantasies about being a rotisserie chicken.

What? No one else has that fantasy? Moving on.

I told him that I wasn't really sure, that I hadn't seen any kind of warming light in the ceiling and had dismissed the switch and moved on. So he turned the dial.

And the tub made a gosh awful noise. 

Wait a minute! The timer switch is at the opposite end of the bathroom from the tub. They can't be connected!  

Oh yes......they can.

We quickly surmised that if you turned the dial on the wall that the jets in the tub turned on, or at least we thought that was what was happening. There was no water in the tub to verify our tentative findings. But I knew the way to find out. It was too late to run a tub full of water on a Wednesday night so I had to wait until Thursday to put the tub jets to the test.

I filled the tub with deliciously hot water (a watched tub spout fills very slowly). I added my lilac scented epsom salts. I walked over and turned the dial for the tub jets....

Eureka! The jets bubbled the water with the same force that Old Faithful does.......I was all ready to get into the tub.....and then I realized that the jets hadn't been used in a LONG time and when they had been turned on they had spewed into my lovely bath water all the gunk that had built up in the them for however many years.

I was not going to get into the water that had black particles floating throughout it. 


So, I emptied the tub of my lovely hot water. I scrubbed the tub. Started the water again to refill and went off to do something else so that I wasn't standing there watching the tub fill. All filled finally.....and it wasn't all that hot water....because if you fill up the whirlpool tub twice in the space of an hour you will drain the water heater just a bit. But the water was warm enough. I was not going to be denied. I turned on the timer.

Whirlpool!!!! I didn't care if the water was lukewarm. I got in there and enjoyed the heck out of this gift that we didn't even know we had.

I am ridiculously excited about this folks. But I don't think our water bill (or the water heater) can stand nightly filling of the Bubbling Behemoth. But once a week seems feasible.

Oh yes. Once a week seems very feasible.