Monthly Archives: December 2006

Give Me a Break (and a Broom!)

Have you read news articles such as this one about a recent study showing that doing housework decreases the risk of breast cancer?

Give me a fucking break!

Okay, so the point of the study is that regular moderate exercise is better than more strenous, less frequent exercise. Point taken. But, the headlines scream HOUSEWORK! Not, MODERATE EXERCISE.

So…great! In our dimwitted cultural imagination, this will become simply another reason to blame a woman for her cancer! You know, if you hadn’t let those dishes pile up and your floor go unswept, maybe we wouldn’t have to chop off your breasts and shoot you full of poison. This’ll teach you to take better care of your house and husband and children.

I like a tidy house, so maybe I’ll avoid the breast cancer plague. But what about women who work 3 jobs and don’t have time to clean their houses (or apartments or the place that they found to sleep for the night) or participate in other regular moderate exercise?

Also, is it really all about the exercise, or might it be the clean living space that helps avoid cancer? Just what the hell is in our dust? Pollutants, maybe? Maybe we could talk about more stringent environmental regulations? No way, because then the blame could not be pinned to individual women.

To certain news writers, I say, take this broom and shove it.

[Also, don’t get me started on how women will now be encouraged to clean house instead of participate in sports or other regular non-cleaning exercise.]

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A Few Last Slugs

2006 is still trying to pack in more horribleness.

Recently, I learned that one of my school’s fixtures, a woman in her 90s who graduated from here back in the day and continued coming to the school on a near-daily basis to hang out, passed away this week. Surprising to me, as she was still stopping by for coffee every afternoon last week.

Also, I learned that my sister’s fiance is back in a hospital. Apparently, his other recent stay was not self-motivated as I was led to believe, but came about after he was found wondering Atlanta breaking windows (actually, just one window…with a stick). During our visit to my parents’, it was quite obvious that he is still delusional. I hope a breakthrough of some sort happens this time. I also hope my sister seeks counseling or a support group, because she is shouldering a huge responsibility. This makes my soul hurt.

2006, kiss my ass. Hate you.

Forward
Porkchop and I intend on going to Rooster for breakfast tomorrow morning. Yay! Crêpes!

I wonder if I should tell them that “dessert” is misspelled on their website. How embarrassing. Although….maybe I just don’t know what “desert crêpes” are.

Marbles is having 24 hours of yoga on New Year’s Eve and Day. I might want to go, but they haven’t posted the class schedule yet. I don’t like surprises…I’d like to map out my schedule well beforehand.

The Yarn Sale
I haven’t been to the Knitorious yarn sale, and I probably won’t go, because I can’t get there before the store closes in the evening. How sad! But, also maybe a good thing.

On second thought, it’s just sad. Before, I thought we might go to Madison this weekend, so I was saving for a trip to the BEST YARN STORE EVER, Lakeside Fibers. I still have two Lakeside punchcards…I swear I will earn another $20 off at some point.

Anyway…now no Madison, no yarn trip. Murrrr.

Ah well, Lakeside is probably closed this weekend anyway. As I recall, they close at the drop of a hat.

Someday, my pretty precious Lakeside, someday.

Something that Makes Me Happy

Regina Spektor’s albums stream for free from her website. I especially enjoy playing and replaying Fidelity and On the Radio off of Begin to Hope.

Cheers!

Hyperbolic Crochet

This looks and sounds intriguing, eh?

I like to imagine mathematicians busily crocheting away. Also, I love that there’s an organization called The Institute For Figuring. Because, when I was younger, my grandpa was always figuring things. But in a different sense. “Well, the way I figured it, that cow was going to be stuck in that fence.”

Afterthoughts

I’ve been feeling like an afterthought lately…an idea that one might entertain for a moment and then dismiss with a wave of the hand.

Porkchop tried cheering me up by serenading me with her new iKaraoke (which actually kind of works!), but I still feel glum.

Murrrr.

Present Weekend
Porkchop and I went to see my family in northeast Arkansas for an exhausting weekend. My sister and parents were all keyed up and played off each other’s respective quirks and foibles. There was nary a moment of silence.

This is how I spent most of my time:

Trying to finish that darned cabled scarf! Thankfully, it is done and given. Unfortunately, this is the only picture I have of it. Perhaps the owner could take a shot of the cabling and send it to me?

I took a breath from knitting to open some of these:

These are two of my favorite gifts received (even if they are from Anthropologie):

I gave these to my mom and sister:

Here are the insides, courtesy of Porkchop and her sewing skills:

Here are my sister and dad demonstrating an alternate use of the bags (a use that I do not condone):

My Favorite
My favorite present is a knitting needle case that Porkchop made out of scraps! So pretty! And nearly finished!

The Next Holiday
I hope the next weekend speeds by quickly. I haven’t had good luck with past New Year’s Eves, making it my least favorite holiday EVER.

The only good thing is time off of work. Oh yeah, and we get to kick 2006’s ass out the door.

2006 was the suckiest year for so many of my family, friends, and acquaintances. Yeah! Get the hell of here, 2006! Scram!

With our hastily made plans canceled for this year’s holiday, I think I’ll barricade myself in our apartment, teach myself some crochet, and get to bed early. Of course, if I plan this, our apartment will probably catch fire or all of my crochet hooks will mysteriously disappear.

Glum glum glum.

No Red Ink Left

It’s the afternoon before the holiday weekend, and I’m stuck reviewing a 75-page area statement. I’m only halfway through it, but I really want to stab my eye with a pen or another sharp object.

Although I’m going out of my mind, I’ve been convinced that I’m an A-1 writer. Thank you, Ph.D. student-who-shall-remain-nameless!

Sweet Jesus, someone teach this student how to write a well-constructed sentence. From there, we can move to paragraphs. Although chapters are a long way off, we’ll get there some day. Some day.

Ah well, have a nice weekend!

More with the Shibori

Remember how I wrote about shibori a couple of times maybe two months ago? The main thing that kept me from starting a shibori scarf was the amount of time it would take to knit a long, fine-gauge scarf. Well, I just checked out the non-pattern content of Knitty and saw this article about using old sweaters for a shibori scarf.

What a wonderful idea! And, why didn’t I think about that?!

I’m not too keen on the “winter garden” scarf featured in the article, but some sort of felted embellishment would be nice. Oh! What if it was needle felted?! That would cover two recent fancies at once!

Meanwhile…

I’m at work, but I have absolutely no motivation to format working papers or do planning for an upcoming conference. Why? Because no one else is in the office! Well, my student worker is, but she doesn’t count.

So…I’m posting two recipes. One is for a biscotti that is our very favorite. It’s rare that Porkchop and I adore the same baked item (Porkchop isn’t a huge chocolate fan while I am a dark chocolate fool), but we both love this biscotti. I recently realized that I’ve been making this biscotti for 7 years now! Crazy! The other recipe is for a shortbread that is a new favorite.

Before recipe posting, has anyone out there tried needle felting? I think it looks intriguing….maybe after I learn the ins and outs of crocheting.

ORANGE-CHOCOLATE BISCOTTI

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp finely grated orange peel
1 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
2 cups flour
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate miniships
2/3 cup shelled lightly salted pistachio nuts

Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet.

In a large bowl with mixer on high speed, beat butter, 1 cup sugar, the peel, and baking powder until well blended. Beat in 3 eggs. On low speed, beat in flour just until blended. Stir in chips and nuts.

Turn dough out on a well-floured surface. Divide dough into quarters. Roll each portion into a 9-inch long rectangular log (use your own judgment about width and height – I think I usually do a few inches across and an inch or so high, but I never measure those).

Place logs 3 inches apart (logs will spread) on prepared baking sheet. Beat remaining egg in a small bowl with a fork. Brush egg on logs, then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup sugar.

Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack 5 minutes. Loosen with a spatula and remove to a cutting board. Wipe off cookie sheet.

With a long, sharp knife, cut each log diagonally into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange slices upright on cookie sheet.

Bake 15-17 minutes longer until crisp. Remove to wire rack to cool (cookies will become even more crisp). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks (but they won’t last that long, believe me!).

CREDIT: From an old Woman’s Day cookie insert. It’s a long story…how I came to possess said cookie insert.

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ALMOND-ORANGE SHORTBREAD

1 cup butter, unsalted, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
grated zest of 1 orange (or about 2 tsp)
3/4 cup sliced almonds

In a mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, almond extract, and salt until smooth. With mixer on low speed, add flour and orange zest; mix just until a dough forms. With a wooden spoon, rubber spatula, or your hands, gently mix in almonds.

On a piece of wax paper, form dough into a rectangular log, 12 inches long, 2 1/2 inches wide, and 1 inch thick. Wrap log in the paper and freeze until firm (at least 1 hour and up to 3 months). If freezing longer than 1 day, wrap log again in plastic wrap.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Remove dough from freezer (if dough has been in freezer for a long time and is frozen solid, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to avoid crumbling).

With a sharp knife, cut dough into 1/4-inch slices; place on ungreased baking sheet at least 1 inch apart. Bake until edges just begin to turn golden, 20-25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet; transfer cookies to rack to cool.

CREDIT: From an Everyday Food issue. Yay for Martha Stewart and her empire!

Time for a Meme (and Other Things)

Yay! I was recently tagged for the very first time!

To celebrate, I am taking time out of my work to recount 6 Weird Things about myself.

Here are THE RULES: Each player of this game starts with the ‘6 weird things about you.’ People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

My Things

  1. Some people already know this, some don’t. My right eye squeaks whenever I have the slightest sinus issue. This isn’t a little squeak, either. It’s LOUD. If the sinus issue is big enough, my eye squeaks on its own, no help from me necessary. GROSS!
  2. I once took apart a desiccated corpse for a summer forensic anthropology project. Not only was it old and dried up, the police found it in a Shriner’s Halloween fun house! The poor guy was painted glow-in-the-dark green and had electric eyes in his orbits.
  3. Thanks to the project mentioned previously, I have done the following: ripped a guy’s throat out (quite literally), held a guy’s dried up organs in my hands, and leaked embalming fluid onto my clothes (it seemed it pooled in the joints – and, no, I don’t think it was synovial fluid). I also have the smell of old, dried up flesh being melted by friction from a stryker saw permanently burned into my sensory bank. Yum!
  4. I can get a lot of mileage out of that summer project. I also helped bury the guy’s bones on one of my university’s test farms. The idea was that a future forensics class would dig up the bones, treating it like a crime scene, and conduct analyses. Given that my professor and everyone else with any knowledge of the burial has since left the univerity, I don’t think this will happen. I think it will be found during expansion on the farm, and some poor person will be stuck trying to figure out why a dismembered body is buried on the farm, along with some discharged bullets, a few cigarettes, and a “suspicious” powdered substance. P.S. We decided on this burial, rather than deal with the various guidelines for disposing of human skeletal remains.
  5. I am compulsive about some things. If an object isn’t positioned quite exactly how I think it should be, I have to move it. I have to start climbing stairs with my right foot first. Same for stepping across cracks in the sidewalk. These are tendencies that I fight daily. I also have a difficult time not mentally typing everything I say or think. Somewhat related, I sometimes forget to breathe when I knit. Also when I type. I’m lucky I’m still alive.
  6. You might not guess it by talking to me, but part of my family is, well, questionable. Growing up, I thought it was quite normal to have con artists for uncles and a grandfather who burned down his family’s house for insurance money….twice.

Now you know!

I am tagging Porkchop and s00zi. Also ken, who could change the topic to “6 Weird Things that Annoy Me.” And Kathy, who could modify it to “6 Things that Chileans find Weird About Me.” I can’t make the six people count, but if you, dear reader, want to participate, feel free to list weird things in the comments section.

OTHER THINGS
Look, here’s my hat:

That photo was taken Monday night. I came home totally exhausted and gross feeling, so I took a long, hot shower and rushed into my pajamas. Nice!

I can’t wait for some down-time! It has been sweatshop-like at our house (except we can take all the bathroom breaks we want). I knitknitknit while Porkchop sewsewsews. Then we cook and wrapwrapwrap presents and try to pack in time with everyone. It’s fun! And, exhausting!

Unfortunately, I’m starting to lose feeling in my left hand from knitting! It’s been tingling all day today, which is just a bit scary mainly because I HAVE A SCARF TO FINISH! I don’t have time to lose this hand! On a related note, I woke up at 6:00 am Sunday morning on Target’s sidewalk and COULD NOT MOVE MY LEFT HAND AT ALL. That, my friends, was super-freaky. I think I had been sleeping on it, but it took quite some time for me to regain movement.

Speaking of Sunday morning, staying all night on the Target sidwalk wasn’t so bad at all. Our neighbors were quite amusing, and everyone in the core 15 was quite pleasant. Porkchop and I even managed to sleep 2-3 hours. We were nice and toasty in our sleeping bags while others were shivering under little blankets.

Back to pictures.

Here’s a nice shot of the pretzel rods that we made Monday night. Okay, we didn’t make the pretzels…we just dipped them in chocolate and added various toppings. This year, we used toffee bits, coconut, pistachios, and peanuts. Easy! and pretty!

So far, this is one of the best shots of our tree. It’s so hard to capture!

And, finally, here’s the 2005 Sonic snowglobe. Tacky, eh?

Tonight we’re going to the Bach Society’s Christmas candlelight concert. I am so excited! I haven’t been to a Christmas concert since high school. When I was a kid, we always went to so many….between school band concerts and the piano parties that my teacher held and the random concerts in town. Anyway, I’ve really missed a good ol’ Christmas concert, so I persauded Porkchop to go to one with me.

Yay!

Have a great Wednesday!

P.S. We exchanged presents with Suzi and her mom last night. Among other things, I received the Happy Hooker. I can’t wait to start hooking!

With the Sidewalk for a Pillow

Hi! Sorry for more broken promises of pictures!

The weekend was both long and short. It held super-packed busy-ness and hours to just sit and do nothing but watch the minutes tick by.

Saturday was busybusybusy. Sunday was an abbreviated day.

Starting Saturday night at 10:30, Porkchop and I were in line at a Target to (hopefully) purchase a Nintendo Wii for her younger brother (who is giving it to his girlfriend’s kids). Yay! We were two of the lucky fifteen who received vouchers at 7:00 Sunday morning!

The other Wii is on eBay. Some say eBay scalpers are greedy, while others say that they (we?) are doing a good deed by making Wiis more widely available. I’m just hoping I get enough extra money to buy a plane ticket for our vacation in April.

More on our adventure later! Promise to keep this promise!

Wii Update
Our extra console went for about $125 more than what we paid for it. Not a plane ticket, but it could be a nice dinner at Niche. I hear they have a 7-course tasting menu now.