Friday, December 31, 2010

7 Quick Takes (Vol 98)


Egads it is New Years Eve! Where did the year go? Don’t tell my mother but she was right all those years ago when she told me that as you get older the years go faster.


Do you have any end of year rituals? HHBL and I do. New Years Day I will spend part of the day cleaning out my office. Also that time will be spent getting my office back to normal after taking Chez Knit off the housing market. That means that some boxes that are in the basement will be unpacked and gone through. I am doing another major purge of the house. Every time I do that I just feel better.

Especially after watching a marathon of Hoarders.

I will also spend time reading “The Lives They Lived” in the NYTimes. That is their year end review of the lives of people who have died during the year. Some are people that you might have heard of and some are not. I wait all year for this particular article. It fascinates me.


We are almost back to empty nester status. Shoe Queen continues her break from school but Cartoon Girl has returned to NYC and The Married Ones (plural of TMO and TSiL) have returned to their nest. It is much quieter around here and my kitchen stays cleaner and my food budget is much happier. Although, That Nice Greek Boy does come over occasionally and boy can he eat.

I love them all when they are here.

I love being an “empty nester”.

Does that make me a bad person?

Oh the silence is lovely.


I must confess that one of the most frightening shows on TV today, at least in my mind, is……

Toddlers and Tiaras

Oh. My. Word. Every single one of those parents needs a good knock upside the head. Why would you do that to your child. Why, oh why, oh why.

I can’t even blame those children for their horrible, stuck up, obnoxious, spoiled, irritating, whining behavior. No, I am laying the blame squarely on the shoulders of the parents.

Now I am sure that the producers of the show look for the most obnoxious children and/or parents to profile. And I know that there are many parents and kids that participate in pageants who are nice, sweet, wonderful people. I know this because I went to college with a Miss Texas contestant and several other girls who had competed in pageants and they were all wonderful. But I have a feeling that they were always that way.

It is the most horrible show….

And yet I cannot look away.


I might have mentioned before that I have a group of friends whom I walk with 3 days a week, rain or shine, warm or cold, dark or light. We are walking machines.

Not really but we do walk regularly.

In the past, as long as there was no ice and snow on the ground we would walk at the local park. It is a two mile walk around the lake, we are outside, we see the geese, the ducks, a swan (once) and very occasionally the really crabby guy who walks his sheep dog. But once the winter snow and ice arrived then we would switch to walking around and around and around and around and around and….


Around the local outlet mall. Still outside but really, really boring.

But no more! Lea’s chiropractor told her about something called YakTrax. He uses them when he runs in the winter.

They. Are. Amazing.

Rock solid in snow and ice. We are back to walking at the park, in the dark, and the snow, and the ice.

Did I mention the dark?

But it is worth it.

Do you make New Years Resolutions? I try to avoid them. I never get through them all and when I don’t then I feel like a failure. I have goals, yes, but resolutions. No.

I am basically a slacker, what can I say.

And to close out the year here is a word puzzle that I did in Wordle. It is just some of the things that I have blathered on about this year. It is sort of scary.

2010 WordleWho knows what I might come up with next year!

Have a wonderful New Year. HHBL and I will be eating shrimp, drinking a good beer and watching a movie.

A perfect evening.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Prepping For 2011



Christmas Decorations yet unput away.

That is life here at Chez Knit as I wind down to the last days of 2010 and look to 2011.

Since the house is off the market, at least for the time being, I am taking the opportunity to go back through boxes that had been packed. I am being ruthless about what stays and what goes.


AmVets are going to LOVE me come February.

And I am trying to get my work areas back together but smaller and more organized. My brain has been whizzing around with all sorts of creative ideas but I haven’t had all my supplies at  my fingertips for the last 9 months. That has been one of the big frustrations for me. I am definitely a creative person and to have to root around in boxes to find supplies when an idea strikes has been very, very difficult.

And I am trying to get some cleaning done. I have to go into the new year with all the laundry and ironing done. It is just the way I am. The laundry isn’t that much of a problem, two people don’t really make that much laundry…

It is the ironing that I hate.

I hate ironing. I get bored. I want to stop in the middle of the process and I often think, “I will just finish that up the next time I iron.” Knowing full well that it might be another 2 months before I get the urge. So the laundry is all done and I did the ironing this morning at about 8a while I was still motivated.

I might also get the urge to do some vacuuming tomorrow. That definitely needs to happen.

And I am also taking the time to do some planning for the new year, using my new toy


to make lists and plan and do all sorts of things. I am obsessed. And I cannot seem to stop playing reMovem. I am addicted.

What do you do in anticipation of the New Year?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Am Max and I Am A Bad Dog

IMG_1096AI am Max and I am a bad dog. I ate a stick of butter this morning when Alpha Male left to do some grocery shopping and everyone else was either working out or sleeping.

I love butter.

It goes down so smoothly and tastes so good.

It was right there on the counter and was within my reach.

I couldn’t help myself.

My crime wasn’t discovered until later in the morning when the youngest progeny made toast and commented that she needed to get out another stick of butter.

Shoe Queen: I need to get out some more butter
Alpha Male: I just put a new stick of butter out this morning.
Shoe Queen: But there is only this little bit on the plate.
Alpha Male: I put some out this…….


I went right in my house. I feel safe there.

But I have been out A LOT this afternoon.

Alpha Male keeps muttering something about “Greased Lightening”. Do you know what she means?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Hangover

Not in the alcoholic sense mind you but just in the oh man we did so much and we ate so much sense.

That is what is happening here at Chez Knit.

Today might involve an outfit similar to…..
IMG_0274 This on……Only without the clogs.

And there might be just general laziness going on because we are all just pooped.

And I might be playing with my new toy
ipod Oh is he not beautiful? His name is Dahling and he is from HHBL and I am so very happy.

And I might also be working through the laundry that has been piling up in my closet for two weeks but I am trying not to think about it.

And I might be trying to clean up the kitchen after days of nonstop food. I so wish that I could say that I would never be hungry again after all that I have consumed…

But sadly I would be lying.

We all just have to have a day or two like this.

But tomorrow it will be back to the regular grind.

I think.

Yes, I have to go to the grocery store. And I promised Cartoon Girl that we would go to the thrift store. And I need to get to the post office and the library.

Yup, back to normal tomorrow. Whatever normal is around here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Oh The Indignity

Max here. You have no idea what these people put me through in the name of fun.

No idea at all.

I am a dog for the love of Pete, whoever that is.

Does Pete have treats? If so then I would like to meet him.

This is what I had to endure this morning just because all my people are under one roof and evidently don’t have anything else to do.

IMG_1091AIMG_1094IMG_1093 IMG_1096AHelp Me

Send treats. Send help.

Send something.


Merry Christmas!

There are no official Quick Takes this week. I myself am wrapping presents, stuffing my face, drinking java, enjoying having all the progeny home, cooking, stuffing my face and listening to Christmas music.

All at the same time!

So from Chez Knit to your home have a very Merry Christmas! Eat some turkey, or in our case ham. Open some presents, rip the paper even.
IMG_0797A IMG_0799A You didn’t think that we would take JUST a serious picture did you? Come on! How long have you been hanging around here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Big Red Through the Years.

I am absolutely clueless about blogging today. I have been to the airport for the second time this week. I am trying to cook beans for the soup tonight. I have bread rising and HHBL and I spent 30 minutes blowing up the air mattress so that Cartoon Girl’s roomie (who is with us for Christmas) could have some place to lay her weary head.

Recipe? Nope don’t feel like it.

Maxwell’s latest exploit. Nope, he has been a good boy since the Fruit Dip incident.

The weather? Well it is snowing but I am sick of thinking about the weather.

So I just thought I would show you pictures of Big Red through the years.

I am pitifully desperate evidently and have nothing of any merit to say. And now you will all leave me.

DSCN2840Aunt Hilda, Uncle Pat (and his ever present cigar) and some girl. I think it is my Aunt Sue. Red looks particularly youthful don’t you think.

DSCN2849Wow, solemn much? That would be Papa in the gray suit with my Amsler Grandparents and Aunt Kathy.

DSCN2851Look at how shiny and red and new Big Red looks. Wow.

DSCN3010Papa, my parental unit and his little sister. And I do mean little. I believe that there is 16 years difference in their ages. Big Red is ageless however.

DSCN3022Who is this child and why is she in my chair. Is this Aunt Sue?

DSCN3036  Yes, I am sorry to say that it is I sitting in Big Red. I am not sure the look I was going for with my hair but I have a feeling that I did not achieve it. I do remember that jumper dress though. It was too tight across the mammilary area and I couldn’t breathe. Perhaps that is why I have that pinched look.

Or it could just be that I was a teenager.

106-0615_IMGAnd here he is now. A bit more weathered. A tad cracked around the edges (just like it’s owner). But happy once more.

Now if I just had time to sit in him and read. But not today.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

They Are Here! My Heart Is Complete

I find it a rare and wonderful thing to be called Mama Quigg by my daughter’s friends. It makes my heart beat just a bit.

Just a bit.

And yesterday my heart beat and my lips smiled and I laughed and was happy….because The Posse spent the night.

The Posse is Cartoon Girls friends from high school. They have known each other for a long time and have walked through many things together. And when Christmas rolls around and they are all back in the area then they come over and have a party and I get to feed them pizza and just sit back and watch them laugh.

IMG_1079A I know it is going to be a good night when all their various footwear is gathered in the back hallway. Ignore the black clogs, those are mine.

IMG_1043A How did they all get to be adults? I don’t understand where the time has gone.

Why? Why did they have to grow up?

IMG_1044A The fruit of my loins. The child of my youth. The oldest of progeny. Cartoon Girl.

IMG_1047 Yup, she’s my kid alright.

IMG_1052 Ahren loves Max. Max love Ahren. He was very happy last night.

IMG_1077 Oh yes, all sitting around our table. All except Clarice who couldn’t be there. Life is good.

IMG_1065A And there was homemade pizza. We ate 4 extra large pizzas. Four. There were two pieces left.

And then there was laughter. A lot of laughter. And quoting of movie lines. And reminiscing. And catching up. And I just sat back and soaked it all in.

IMG_1067 IMG_1068 IMG_1069 IMG_1070 I think by this time at least one person had inadvertently snorted water out of their nose. It happens every time.

IMG_1071 Fireman Daughter Whitney just taking it all in.

IMG_1076 Naturalist/Artist Daughter Michelle explaining what they do with beaver skeletons at work. Boy that made dinner REALLY special.

IMG_1066 Teacher Daughter Emily, the quiet one of the group. Yeah sure.

IMG_1082 The kitchen aftermath pain is worth it just to have them here.

IMG_1083 And in the morning I always make them pancakes. And I try to remember to put the baking powder in the batter.

IMG_1073 Thanks Cartoon Girl for bringing all my other daughters home to me. Life wouldn’t be good without all of you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Divine Fruit Dip

You know, I have always called this recipe fruit dip but I am thinking for that it should be called Divine Fruit Sauce. Hmmmmmm.

I will stick with tradition.

It is Monday.

I am tired.

I have another party to go to tonight. That’s me, party animal.

So we need a recipe. And this is an awesome one. The first time I ever had it I was having lunch with some friends. We had all provided some aspect of the lunch. Sarah had brought some fruit and a sauce. I am not really a big one for sauce on my fruit. I won’t tell you about the Hot Fruit Compote that Grandma Amsler used to make. She was somehow under the delusion that we liked hot stewed prunes and pineapple. I was scared for life. So I wasn’t really excited about putting anything on my fruit. But Sarah insisted.

I drizzled. I ate.

The angels sang. This stuff is that good.

Remember, the link for the recipe is at the bottom in big bold letters.

IMG_0978A There aren’t that many ingredients which is always a good thing this time of year.

IMG_0981Now I have to say that if you have a double boiler hanging around your kitchen you might want to get it out now. I do not have one of those.

And no Mimi I don’t need one.

If you don’t have a double boiler than a metal bowl over a small sauce pan of simmering water will do just as well.

Please, please, please ignore the absolute messiness of my cook top. The day that I actually made this was Saturday and I was getting ready for the company Christmas party which was being held at Chez Knit. The cook top was clean by the time that everyone arrived but not when I was taking pictures.

Now back to the recipe.

Bring the water up to a simmer.

IMG_0982A Put the sugar in the bowl.

IMG_0983Add the lemon juice. I will say that the original recipe had DOUBLE the amount of lemon juice that I used. Not. Good. Way too much pucker power if you know what I mean.

IMG_0984Add the pineapple juice.

IMG_0985Add the orange juice.

Let’s spend some time talking about orange juice for a moment. I am going to ask you to please use fresh squeezed juice for this. It will not taste the same if you do not. And lest you say, “I bet it will.” and you know who you are. I will tell you that I have made it with something other than OJ squeezed that day and it was not the same. And I even threw it out.

And we know that I do not like to throw out food.

IMG_0986Thank goodness my local grocery store has OJ that they squeeze every morning. I didn’t have the time to do it myself.

Just take your whisk and stir the juice mixture so that the sugar dissolves and the juice temperature is hot.

Now comes the “tricky” part. Don’t be scared. You will do just fine. Have you ever “tempered” eggs. No? Well you will.

Raw eggs added to a hot liquid do not a good mix make. The eggs tend to scream a bit and then curdle in protest. It is a tough thing to watch. You must bring the temperature of the eggs up gently to the temperature of the hot liquid. You do this by adding some of the hot liquid slowly to the eggs, all the while whisking the eggs around so that they don’t curdle. Then, after you have added some of the hot liquid slowly to the egg yolks and whisked them all around and sent them to couples therapy you then add the tempered egg yolks to the hot liquid whisking all the time.

IMG_0987 Add the cornstarch to the egg yolks and whisk them together.

IMG_0989 Then temper the eggs. I didn’t take a picture of this step because there was only one of me and I needed both hands. Can you see the nice coating on the bowl. That means that I have successfully tempered the eggs.


IMG_0988 Then slowly add the tempered eggs to the hot juice, whisking all the time. Do not stop whisking until everything is all melded together and happy.

IMG_0991 Then add the lemon and orange zest and continue to stir the juice mixture for about 10 minutes until it starts to thicken a bit. It will not be too thick but just a bit.

IMG_0992 Oh you cannot believe how good this smells. I want it now.

IMG_0994 Now take a piece of plastic wrap and law it down over the mixture with the plastic touching the surface. You need to cool it down but you don’t want a skin to form.

IMG_0995 And because I live in the Frozen Northeast Ohio where we have had about 40 inches of snowfall so far and it isn’t even winter, what better place to cool down my mixture.

IMG_0996 Perfect.

And then……..

Disaster struck.

An hour or so passed. I had been deep in other party preparations. It was time to finish the dip. I opened up the sliding door and went to pick up the bowl.

That’s odd? The plastic isn’t on the bowl. It isn’t windy out here. Where is the plast…….

IMG_0997A Oh here is the plastic. Hey! Why does it have a bunch of holes ripped in it and…..

And then I looked up. And there stood Max the Very Bad Dog.

Yes, I had put Max out and hadn’t thought about the dip for one second. And he had come to the sliding door to bark that he wanted to come in. And there at the back door he found a generous surprise from me.

IMG_1000 I am so sorry Alpha Male. I could not help myself and my dogish tendencies. It was there. I had to. I just had to.

And then I had a dilemma. I didn’t have time to remake the sauce. I had 16 people arriving in about 3 hours…..

So I just reheated the sauce and let it cook for a while.

It was FINE! Fine I tell you. I had some this afternoon and I survived.

Now back to the recipe.

When the mixture is cooled like it is supposed to….

IMG_1001 Then you add one cup of plain yogurt. Mix it well and chill til time to use.


IMG_1003A  Oh be still my beating heart. This stuff is so good.


Divine Fruit Dip