Sunday, 25 December 2011

Happy Ho-Ho and Merry New Year

I had a blog started on Christmas Day, wishing my dozen or so readers a merry Christmas and extolling the virtues of my cooking and what we had planned for the day but after at least half an hour of trying to get pictures to upload so I could show off what I had been doing I got a little ticked off and just put it aside for later. I didn't mean it to be a week later, but, well, here we are.

So now in addition to the merry Christmas that got lost in the ether, I wish you a happy new year and all the best for 2012. It seems there was a lot of unhappiness last year, for many people and many different reasons, big and small, and I hope that things will be looking much brighter for everyone this year.

I was rather down last weekend, as Christmas is usually a big thing for me. I enjoy going present hunting for my guy and my sister but that was out this year because of finances, and I have fun cooking a big(ish) dinner - can't really be too big, there are only the two of us after all, and I don't want the food going to waste, but even so it's still something that can be fun. It wasn't as much fun this time, but that was because of my mood more than anything else. My poor guy, I warned him in the morning that I wasn't in a very good mood and he took it wrong, thinking it was him that had caused my bad mood so he said he'd leave me alone, not realising that what I actually wanted was a really big hug. We got that sorted out though, and that part of the day was better at least.

I did see my sister before Christmas and was able to give her the little gifts I'd made for her - let's see if I can get the pics to post this time. I've put them up before, but let's consider this in the nature of a test.

Well well, what do you know - it finally worked. It took a little bit of futzing about, waiting for it to load, but hey, at least it worked. I've been trying to load pics to Ravelry for the last week too, and it's been a bitch as well. Anyway, she seemed to be very happy with her presents, and I got a text a couple of days later that she was wearing the hat and was really happy with it. This is a good thing :-)

Since the pics are working, let's try another one or two -

The stuffing I made for the 9lb turkey that himself won at work :-) I'm not the world's biggest fan of turkey, mostly because I don't like eating leftovers for weeks on end, but this was free food - never turn down free food.

I also managed to get a good picture of Boo while I was mucking about with the camera, one where she's actually looking at the camera and not off to one side or moving from one place to another.

Christmas night we went to see a movie, one of three we've seen over the holidays. That first one was The Darkest Hour, an alien invasion movie of a sort. It was more entertaining than I'd had reason to hope, considering that none of the cast are A-list actors and the publicity wasn't really all that great. I only ever saw the one trailer for it, and the ads they ran on tv were just a shortened version of that trailer. It was done in 3D, and they did a really good job with that aspect of it. It was really only used to add depth of field to the surroundings and it did that to great effect. There were even a couple of vertigo-inducing scenes in there, which is the mark of some decent 3D.

My guy was off until Thursday, so we had a very lazy week of staying up way too late and getting up rather late as well. One of the things we did was continue with our Babylon 5 marathon :-) We just finished season three and it's one hell of a show. It still gives me chills watching that show, it's so intricately constructed. There are things going on in season one that aren't explained for two or three years but once they are it's like a revelation when all the pieces fall into place.

When he went back to work on Thursday I got up and picked up my friend Mary and we went off to Newmarket to pick up our cheques. After that we stopped by my apartment where she helped me pack up some more stuff and fill my car to bursting with my clothes drawers and what was left out of the kitchen. After that we went to another friend's place for a potluck lunch she'd organised for the six of us. It was a blast, especially since even when we are all working we don't get the chance to just sit and chat and laugh like that. Tammy made us what she calls "smoothies" - adult slushies, I call them. LOTS of booze, mostly rum, a whole lot of frozen raspberries and some water and Crystal Light for sweetness and added flavour. Oh wow, were they ever good. I could only have one or I wouldn't have been able to drive home, but it's because of her that I went and bought a Magic Bullet Single Shot for myself. I had all the ingredients, I just needed that little blender because I've just about fried the motor on the one we have. When you can smell the burning rubber when trying to make a yogurt/berry smoothie it's generally not a good sign. I made a slushie when I got home from hunting down the Magic Bullet, and oh boy was it ever good :-D

 Saturday we had no plans for New Year's Eve, we don't socialise much at all and have little to no desire to go out and about on such a crazy night. In the past we've gone out for dinner, or out looking for a R.I.D.E. program but that was just not what we wanted to do this year. So instead we went to see a movie in the afternoon - Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - good movie! Lots of fun, though I'm still really not sold on the soundtrack. I didn't like the music for the first one all that much either, though I really did try, and this one is just as twangy with the harpsichord line in there (or whatever it is). Otherwise, though, it was a lot of fun, and I got some work done on his Halloween stripey socks too, until I made a mistake and had to stop knitting because I couldn't see to fix it :-P

After that we went hunting hors d'ouvres for dinner, and we had cheese and shrimp puffs as well as little mini quiches. We had some cheese and crackers as well, and boy were we stuffed. Both of us had some tummy upset actually, so we put away the rest of the stuff we had and just spent a quiet evening in. I got some more work done on my Warlock Socks (Ravelry link), I'm up to the ribbing on the cuff and I'm doing it in 1x1 twisted rib. I'm thinking of making a row with yarn overs in it to create holes for ribbon laces to keep the socks up, I just have to decide where to put that row.

That's the first sock, they're both that high now and they're very matchy-matchy, too :-D

Today was also very quiet, though we did head out for breakfast and while we were there he asked if I had any interest in seeing Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, which of course I did. Turns out he'd gotten tickets for that yesterday at the same time that he got the ones for Sherlock Holmes and was going to surprise me with them but then had to tell me, because he just had to share. It was also a good movie, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I couldn't knit again, because I messed up only a few rows in - I have to make sure I take knitting that uses slightly thicker yarn than these Halloween stripey socks because it's just too thin to work with easily, even when I have lots of light. That's okay though, the movie was entertaining enough that I didn't miss it too much.

Anyway, that's enough for now :-)

Happy New Year to everyone,


Thursday, 22 December 2011


Are you running away yet? ;-) It's okay, there's a brief reprieve.

Today was somewhat better than yesterday, thank goodness. At least I didn't have a leaky pipe in the basement that I had to call a plumber to fix. I did, however, slightly lose my nut on the poor guy at Fido (my cell provider).

I upgraded my phone a few days ago, and have been waiting for it to be delivered by UPS. While I was on the phone doing the upgrade, I had them change my address so that it would be shipped here, but no, that part of the call didn't stick and delivery was attempted to my place in Newmarket. I'm there only sporadically these days, and I'm not going up there to hang out for a day hoping the UPS guy is going to show up. I called to get the delivery changed to here and was told to call UPS directly to do that, and so I did. It turns out that I can go pick it up, and though it's out of my way to do so, I'd rather do that than wait til next Thursday to have it delivered. They're closed on Mon and Tues next week for the holiday, it would take another day for them to get their act together and so it would be Thursday before it would get here.

Also, my data plan was changed from a Blackberry plan to a different one because the new phone is an Android. This would not be a problem if I had already had my phone when they switched it over. They switched it at around noon on Tuesday, but it's now Thursday and I still don't have my new phone. It will be another day until I have it, yet I'm paying for a data plan I can't use. I was rather offended by that and let the guy have it. He ended up turning my Blackberry plan back on for me, and gave me a credit on my next invoice for my troubles. I'll have to call them tomorrow to get it changed back again, and then probably argue with them again about the length of my term. I deliberately went with a two-year term as opposed to a three-year one because I just can't cope with the thought of being stuck that long. I don't anticipate changing providers, but who knows how badly they'll piss me off between now and then.

My new toy, which hopefully will be in my hot little hands by tomorrow morning :-D I'm looking forward to having some fun with it.

The other thing I did today was make a big mess in the kitchen. I'm late, but I had to make my fruitcake this year. I had a very pretty moment while making it and inadvertently doubled the fruit but luckily I caught it before making the cake batter. So I wound up with four fruitcakes instead of two, though I do have a plan to get rid of two of them. One is going to a friend at work and I think another will go to my upstairs neighbours at the apartment. They're British and so enjoy the dark fruitcake at Christmas. I gave them one last year and John, at least, enjoyed it very much.

When I say fruitcake, I do mean fruitcake - there are four kinds of raisins and four different kinds of dried fruit in this recipe. It's somewhat bastardised from the one I got from my stepmother, because that one calls for a pound and a half of candied peel and cherries... ugh. I don't like those at all. So, I used Thompson raisins, sultanas, Lexia raisins, and currants as well as dried mango, apricots, peaches and strawberries. The rest of the recipe is just fine, but I really have to sub the fruit for the candied crap. The downside is that in cutting all that stuff up, I've gotten a blister on my finger from the knife rubbing against it for the time it took me to do the chopping. (It took quite a while - chopping dried fruit is tough.)

The sad part is any time I mention fruitcake most people I know run for the hills because they're thinking it's something like the garbage that's sold in the grocery stores and re-gifted forever and ever. If I could only get them to try the one I make, I'm pretty sure they'd change their minds. If they didn't like raisins they'd be pooched, of course, but if they do I think they'd like this one. Even my guy said earlier when he tried it, "That's good!" in a tone of surprise. He should know better :-P
I have been checking the online news sources regarding contract negotiations and the like, and I have to say that I really need to navigate away from the pages before I get to the comments section. The ignorance and rudeness of some of the people commenting is frustrating and hurtful. If I were to tell you that Joe Blow down the hall from you at work is making 40% more per year with better benefits and better working conditions while doing the same job that you do, would you not be a little pissed? We're not asking for the full wage gap to be made up, but half would be a good start. As for pensions and benefits, the only pension I have is what I can put away in an RSP for myself, and we pay quite a bit for the benefits, and Manulife keeps upping the premiums and cutting the benefits that are covered, just like every insurance company around. Regarding working conditions, a lot of our drivers are working an eight hour day that's spread out over up to 15 hours. How is that good, in any way? It contributes to fatigue and to more stress in the home life than is good for anyone. Driving distracted and driving while fatigued can be just as dangerous as driving impaired. Those are a form of impairment actually, and I heard that from a provincial police officer. The comments about being happy we have a job, and the "Pay me $15/hr and I'll go do it" just make me want to slap that person upside the head. We do a specialised job - it's not glamourous, but most of us do it because we love to drive. We're being paid to do something we enjoy, and that does make some of the rest of the garbage easier to take, but when we're offered a contract where the increase over the next three years isn't even enough to buy a medium coffee at Tim Horton's and our benefits are increasing in price, we had no choice but to say, "No. We are worth more than that. We are more deserving than that."

That's all my rambling for today,


Wednesday, 21 December 2011


I just have to put this out there, get it off my chest - this year, Christmas sucks. There are a variety of reasons, one of which, of course, is that fact that neither of us has much in the way of money and so presents have been put on hold. So there's nothing to get excited about there. No wondering what to get for him, or what he's gotten for me, and that's rather sad. I had plans, too, of what to get him. One of the things that's becoming a tradition is to adopt an animal at the Toronto Zoo. They send a certificate with a picture of the animal, a little brochure with information and the recipient's name goes on their wall of donors at the front entrance of the zoo. It's really neat to go there and see your own name on that wall. I hadn't decided which animal to adopt for him this year - in the past I've adopted a red panda, a polar bear and a black panther for him. The year I got him the polar bear I also found a framed print of a mama polar bear curled up with her two cubs which seem very serendipitous. 

There's also the fact that we're in week nine of the strike and there still doesn't seem to be an end in sight. On the news website this morning it was announced that one contractor had approached the union with an offer, but that's not our employer or union so it doesn't matter that much for us. It matters in that whatever they're offered, we will be offered as well by our employers, but if the offer sucks then, well, that doesn't do any of us much good.

The weather has been really weird, warmer than usual, and while I'm not complaining because I'd rather be out picketing in temps over 0C than under, since I do live in Canada the weather does shape our perceptions of the holidays and with rain, not snow, and temperatures above 0C, it just doesn't feel like Christmas. When I lived in Australia I had a hard time at Christmas because it was summer and that just seemed so wrong to me. I'm sure if I had stayed I would have gotten used to it (and there are times now when I wish I still lived there - sun, beach, warm weather...) but at the time it just felt really strange. There's the point too, that we've had very little sunlight for the last couple of weeks and that does start to get one down after a while. All around it's rather depressing.

To add insult to injury, one of the pipes in the house developed a crack - the one leading from the kitchen sink and dishwasher - and has been leaking all over the floor in the back bedroom, causing mould to develop and just be icky in general. It went unnoticed for a while because there was a table in the way, and I just didn't see the carpet getting wet, but when the mould sprang up (in what seemed to be) almost overnight I freaked. I found it at 3 am when I had to get up to check on Honey, and when I turned the light on I happened to be looking directly at the area in question. Ugh. I couldn't sleep in there after that, thinking that every time I breathed in I was inhaling mould spores. My biggest problem with it is that that bedroom is where I escape to if I can't sleep because he's snoring. I can be a very light sleeper, and I have a hard time *getting* to sleep, too, so sometimes it's just easier to go sleep in there than it is to get grumbly and antsy and really irritable.

To finish this off with something much more pleasant than my whinging so far, here are the photos we had done of the four-feets earlier this fall. Our local pet store had a photo competition for the cutest pets and if you spent $50 or more in the store you got to book an appointment to have the glamour shots done and have your pet entered in the contest. After it was all over and done with, you could order prints from the photographer which is what we did. Here they are :)

Aren't they lovely girls? It would have been nice to bring the cats too, but probably only Milo would have made the trip successfully. Maybe next year :)


Friday, 16 December 2011

Mitts and more yarn

Here we are again :-) Lunch today is a very lovely Honeycrisp apple (best apples ever!!) and some McLaren's Imperial cheddar cheese spread and Vinta crackers... sooooo good... and of course my dog wants the cheese and crackers as well. She's not so fond of apples, but she just loves the rest. She already got a cracker when one hit the floor so she's hopeful that she'll get more.

The strike continues, the companies involved won't change their offers even though both the companies and the union have met at the bargaining table again at the urging of the region. The region themselves will not take any part other than to say that they've saved $5 million over the duration of the strike and that they'll offer a month of free service after the strike is over to entice passengers back to the transit system. Not sure why they're doing that - most people ride the express buses in the system for free anyway. There's a proof-of-payment fare system on the express lines and unless enforcement officers get on the bus to check the fares there's no reason for the passengers to bother with a ticket. There are a lot of teenagers who ride the bus for free that way. At least once we go back we won't have to deal with passengers paying a fare, or issuing transfers.

So, in the meantime I've discovered the crack that is Malabrigo Rios. Oh wow. So very, very soft. I was on my way up to Newmarket on Wednesday when I realised that I had forgotten my knitting bag. Definitely not a good thing for me. My friends have noticed that having my knitting keeps me calmer, and less cranky than I can be, and I've noticed that I get a little antsy when I don't have it. In my mind, these are all good reasons to make sure that I have it with me. As a result, I had to stop by Wendy's shop and get something to keep myself busy and while I was there I decided that I didn't want more sock yarn. Not now, at least. I have lots, and I also have three pairs on the go at the moment so I really didn't want another pair started right now. The fingerless mitts I had made, though, the ones I put a pic of in the last post, those I could make more of and as an added bonus I could knock them off in less than two days. Aren't they pretty?

The colour is Purple Mystery, and I'm sure I didn't capture the true richness of the shade with my camera. Trust me when I tell you it's stunning :-) I have more of it, as well as what's left over from the mitts, so I'm going to make another Palindrome hat with it, and then I'll decide what to do with what's left over from that. It's so soft and gorgeous.

I also picked up some yarn for a sweater that they tempted me with while I was at the store. They are such enablers! The pattern is Oblique and the yarn is their new store line of yarns, called Timothy Street Yarns. So far there is only the aran weight available but it is lovely. They have a range of eight colours, and I picked up the dark teal to make my sweater in. The dark grey is also very nice but I just finished the Strike Hoodie in grey, and I'm still using up the last of the deep grey for some gifts so that wasn't a colour I was interested in right now. Here's a pic of the teal :-)

I picked up some Cascade 220 Superwash in a couple of colours and some white roving to make a pair of thrummed mittens - haven't started on that yet, but it will be soon.

I haven't decided which colour to use, but I'm sure that will sort itself out ;-)

Also, here are some of my latest acquisitions from the lovely Katie at YarnLove - so pretty.

The top one is Just Before Dawn, and the center one is Sunset, both November's selections in the sock club. The bottom one is Silvered Waves, which was one of August's selections, and I now have a whole lot of that colourway. I'm thinking of making a cardigan or sweater with that one held double, which is why I have so much of it.

Let me see, what else have I been up to? I did manage to do some housework today, sweeping the floor to get rid of all the Boo bunnies and Milo balls - I swear they were plotting coup under the desk. Here's one of the miscreants - I'd been calling him and couldn't figure out where he was until I went looking. I had to move the basket to where there was more light to take the picture :-)

He's just too darn cute for his own good. Anyway, that's all I can think of for now :-)


Friday, 9 December 2011

Yarn and Projects

It's been another lovely morning of puttering about :-) I woke up late, about nine, and wandered about letting puppies out and filling food and water bowls. I had some cereal for breakfast - so exciting, no? ;-) After a little digging I found a lovely recipe for cranberry muffins that I decided to indulge in. I had bought the cranberries and an orange a couple of days ago, but the recipe that I had in one of the few cookbooks I have here (most of them are still at my apartment on the shelves in the kitchen) just wasn't that appealing. It wasn't what I was looking for, which was just a basic muffin with cranberry and orange zest. The link above is just that - it says lemon, but subbing the orange extract and adding some zest is not a big stretch, and now that I have a naked orange sitting on the counter I guess I know what I'll be having for my afternoon snack, hm?

Yes, that is a Starbucks stainless steel travel mug, and if you like to keep your coffee/tea/whatever hot while you take your time drinking it, I highly recommend these mugs. They are awesome, so much so that I have purchased five of them, and four of those were for myself. The other one was a gift for my uncle last Christmas when he expressed interest in the one that I'd had with me. I preheat the mug by pouring boiling water in it and putting the lid on, allowing it to sit for about five minutes. I then pour the water out and brew my coffee right into the cup using a small cone filter. I've had my coffee hot for hours using this method, and it doesn't go funky which is good because I take my coffee double double.

Today's soundtrack was provided by the wonderful composers James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer from this awesome movie :-D

Another one of the many that I've seen enough times not to get distracted by what's going on onscreen, it's just in there for the music, which I absolutely adore. Now it's time for the sexiness of James Bond in Casino Royale. This one is because the movie is fun, not for the music - I find it too heavy on the brass section, though I do like Chris Cornell's theme song.

I have some new treasures to show you :-) I am trying to be good and knit from my stash but there are certain things that I just can't resist and one of them is a sale. Twisted Fiber Art had their version of a Black Friday sale and I picked up a couple of skeins of wonderful yarn from them in colourways that aren't currently being dyed. The first one is the colourway Ember on their Shiny base which is 50% merino/50% tencel, and yes, it is shiny - and soft, and squishable...

The next is Sweet Tooth on their MCN base (that's merino/cashmere/nylon for the non-yarnies in the audience) and I just love anything with cashmere in it. Oh. My. God. Soft is not the word.

These are both self striping yarns, much like the pic I put up in the last post of the Warlock colourway. I have a pic of that skein too, for your vicarious pleasure. I'm having a hell of a time deciding which one to start as my next project - they will be socks, definitely. There's also a new player in town, but we'll get to that in a minute.

Mmm, purplz...

So, about that new player... I don't know how I've managed to miss it for so long, but there's a shop by the name of GothSocks by Rainy Days & Wooly Dogs who creates some beautiful self striping yarns. I've managed to pick up a couple of skeins on destash on Ravelry and one of them has arrived here already so I can show it off to you. It's the Ricin base, which is merino/bamboo/nylon, and it feels wonderful.

I also have some pictures of current projects :-) I made a pair of fingerless mitts the other night, I finished one on Monday night and the second on Tuesday night. The nice thing about working with worsted weight yarn is how quickly it knits up. I adore my sock yarns, but sometimes it's nice to do a quick project. These were really warm, too, and they hug the hands because of the ribbed construction.

There's also a hat under construction from the same yarn which I'm hoping to finish today or tomorrow.

It's the Palindrome Hat by Kristin Bellehumeur which has reversible cables so the brim can be rolled up or left down, looking lovely either way it's worn.

I have a pair of socks that I've been working on for a little while, just a plain pair where the first one is done and I just finished the heel turn of the second one last night so they're once again available for on-the-go knitting. They may well be the ones I take to the meeting I'm going to on Sunday as they're the closest to being finished and I'd like to have another f.o. notch on my Ravelry page :-D

One last picture of the latest in self striping socks - these are using the Halloween colourway from Tri'Coterie Yarns that I posted about a few blogs ago. My guy is looking forward to his stripey socks :-)

As you can see it's the usual ribbed pattern that I use for his socks, the only changes I've made are to add 4 stitches to the usual number I use for his socks because the yarn is very fine and I'm knitting on US 0/2mm needles. I'll be doing an afterthought heel for these, of course, to maintain the stripe. Hopefully they'll fit him nicely, though I'm a little worried about it because I usually do a gusset and flap heel for him which gives more room over the instep. I guess we'll see, no? :-)

That's all for now,


Friday, 2 December 2011

This Could Take A While...

Well, here it is - the region won't intervene in the strike, perhaps calling for the drivers to be legislated back to work, thus causing the passengers even more grief and hardship than they've had to deal with already. It's gone too far for us to back down now, so this could drag on for a very long time. We need our jobs, we don't actually want to be on strike and not have a paycheque coming in, and there are a lot of the drivers who are feeling truly awful for the passengers, myself included. It will be interesting to see where this goes from here.

That was very weird. I just got a call on my cell with an automated survey of my opinion of the transit strike. I'm wondering if it's a random sampling of numbers from the area phone book or if it's from a list somewhere that my number is on. I just hung up, feeling like it was some sort of conflict of interest. Probably not logical, but there it is.

This week has been busy - picketing on Tuesday, which meant up super early, then off to the apartment to clear out some more things. I brought another chunk of my kitchen with me this time, and came to the (not very) shocking conclusion that I have a lot of kitchen toys. I also only have four drawers in the kitchen here, and two of them are half sized. My apartment had six drawers, all full sized, one of which was filled with plastic wrap, foil and baggies and the like. I have no idea where the hell this stuff is going to go here, but I am thinking I'm going to have to get a set of freestanding drawers to put it in. Then of course, the question becomes "where do I put that?" *sigh*

Wednesday I was up early again to go with my friend for her court case. She's had a rough haul over the last year and change with her common law husband, and she really needed some moral support. Two of us went with her, to try to keep her from bouncing off the walls. Yesterday was more picketing, which meant I was up at "omfg it's early!!!!" I haven't seen this many early days since I worked day shift. There's a really good reason I switched to afternoons. Sleep is a marvellous thing. I was so tired that I went to bed at seven-thirty last night - I felt like I was six years old again. At least it was dark out so I could sleep. I have an issue with there being light in the room when I'm trying to sleep. It's one of the reasons why I don't nap during the day. I just don't sleep well enough to be bothered trying anymore. I wake up feeling worse than I did before I went for the nap.

I got up this morning and made my guy coffee and a bagel for his breakfast, since I'd gotten eight hours sleep and was feeling much better :-) At least that way he didn't have to stop for coffee on his way to work, and sometimes that keeping that extra couple of dollars can make a difference. Besides, I don't like Tim Horton's anymore (I know, it makes me seem un-Canadian, doesn't it?) and think that my coffee is definitely superior.

After I got up again this morning I decided it was time to tidy up a bit and use up the bananas that have been sitting on the table for the last few days. Bananas are nasty things, really. I'm not fond of them at all. They have a window of only a few hours where they're tolerable to eat, otherwise they're too green or have gone black. The smell, too... I do not like the smell of them. However, since we had them and I'd rather use them in something than just throw them out I just decided to make banana bread. I didn't have the pecans chopped to put in it so i put in mini chocolate chips instead. I really didn't think he would mind (he likes banana bread more than I do - I only eat it when it's fresh out of the oven and the butter goes all melty) and I was right :-)

I have been knitting away, though I think I only have one project to show you right now. It is a lovely one though, and it's very squishy :-) I only have the pic of it blocking unfortunately, but here it is:

The next one I've begun is from, the pattern Citron which is a lovely shawl.

It's up to the beginning of the fourth repeat now, and believe me when I say that's a lot of stitches... I think I might pull out my Argonath stole later on and work on that for a while :-)

Okay, I'm off to do... something... I'll figure out what in a while :-P