Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas (almost) to those of you who celebrate. And if you don't -- Have a Happy Monday! Of course, my family doesn't get here until Tuesday night, and we're not having Christmas dinner until Saturday, so I'll be celebrating all week!

There has been progress on Christmas knitting. The Knitted Robot is finished, and although I'm not absolutely thrilled with him (my seaming skills are obviously lacking), I'm at least happy with him. Here he sits in my Christmas tree.

Knitted Robot

I've also finished a fourth pair of Fetching, in Midnight Blue Elsebeth Lavold Classic AL. No picture - you know what they look like by now!

Remember the Shetland Triangle I was knitting? Apparently the DROPS Alpaca really did not want to be a Shetland Triangle. Instead, it will be a Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl. I'm halfway through the sixth of ten repeats (each repeat is 8 rows, and 16 stitches wider than the previous repeat). I need to have it done (and blocked) by Saturday. I think I'll make it.

Forest Canopy Shawl

I also got my Christmas cards addressed and stamped. I'll mail them tomorrow - they'll be "Christmas week" cards! I actually got them made last weekend, but didn't bother to address them!

Here's the outside (a little blurry, as most of my non-flash photos are):

Christmas card 2006

And the inside:
Christmas Card 2006 inside
(For those of you who stamp -- Joy is heat-embossed in silver over the stamped snowflake.)

I've also got a loaf of that New York Times No-Knead Bread (that link will only work, I think, if you subscribe to TimesSelect) rising, and my handbell choir is playing at Midnight Mass tonight. Tomorrow I need to make one more batch of Carrot-Coconut Bread and wrap some presents.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Carrot-Coconut Bread

As promised, here's my recipe for Carrot-Coconut Bread. This is a sweet, dense bread. The recipe makes 8 small loaves at once and is a great "office gift" when made in foil loaf pans. I got the recipe years ago from a friend of my mother's who ran a little bakery business out of her home.

A note about shredding carrots: I can't imagine making this without a food processor! One recipe takes 4 cups of shredded carrots, which is about a pound and a half unshredded. I scrub the carrots with a vegetable brush and trim the ends, but don't usually peel them, although you certainly can if you like. I shred the carrots using the the shredding disk on my food processor. If yours has two shredding disks, like my old one did, use the finer disk.

Carrot-Coconut Bread

Makes 8 small (approx. 5 ½" by 3 ½") loaves

4 c. flour
2 c. sugar
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
¾ t. cloves
¾ t. nutmeg
½ t. ginger

6 eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
2 t. vanilla
4 c. shredded carrots
14 oz package coconut
2 c. chopped walnuts
2 c. golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease loaf pans.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.

In a very large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat eggs until fluffy and light-colored. Add oil and vanilla. Stir in carrots, coconut, walnuts, and raisins.

Add combined dry ingredients. Using a large, strong spoon, stir into carrot mixture. The batter will be very thick. If it seems like you can’t get all of the flour mixed in, let the mixture sit for a few minutes, then stir some more. (Next time, beat the eggs longer - I've discovered this really makes a difference!)

Divide mixture among greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until nicely browned.

These freeze really well – 8 of the loaves will fit in a 2½ gallon ziploc bag.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Sixth Weirdness

I could say that it's that I can't count to 6, but, really, I can. So here's number six:

6. Although I like dark chocolate just fine, if I had to choose (like, if I was stranded on a desert island), I'd choose milk chocolate.

Monday, December 18, 2006

That Meme

I have been knitting, but what's left are yet another pair of Fetching and holiday knitting for someone who might see it here. And the robot is still drying and waiting to be seamed and stuffed.

So, instead -- we have a meme, in which you will learn some things about me that might seem odd to some people. We all have our little quirks, right? Eric at Ethical Thought, who is another knitter/medical librarian, tagged me.

“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.”

1. I’m stealing this first one from Theresa, who mentioned that she is phone-o-phobic. I really dread it when my home phone rings. I’m not sure why, but you get so many charity calls and stuff, and I hate saying no to them.
2. But what is really weird isn’t that I hate answering the phone, but that, despite that fact, I don’t have Caller ID.
3. I have a whole bookcase of cookbooks in my kitchen, but I rarely cook anymore (although I do bake).
4. I have no children, but I enjoy scrapbooking. Personally, I don’t think this is weird, but others seem to.
5. I have to be able to see the clock when I wake up at night, which is a frequent occurrence. Before I had lasik surgery to correct my vision, I slept clutching a little alarm clock whenever I traveled.

I’ll probably think of some really weird stuff after I post this! And I’m going to tag Steve (another knitting medical librarian), Susan, Amy, Kim (who is probably too busy with her adorable baby boy to read blogs), the other Kim, and Courtney.

Tomorrow -- my recipe for Carrot-Coconut Bread, which is a great from-the-kitchen holiday gift!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Who put that "kick me" sign on my car?

car.jpgIt probably says "hit me," not "kick me." Remember this? Well, it happened again today, only worse. On my way to work, a woman turned left in front of me. Her right front corner hit my left headlight area. Luckily, no one was hurt, but I was SO mad, which now makes me feel a little guilty, since she was definitely a little old lady/granny. I refused to move my car, or let her move hers, until the police got there so he could see that she had just turned in front of me. That shiny thing in the photo is the headlight assembly, not broken, but shoved up to a 90 degree angle from where it's supposed to be. So now my car is sitting at a shop, while we wait to find out if her insurance will pay for it, as they should.

This has been another long, busy week at work, but I've done a little knitting. Here's the front of a knitted robot, from the no longer available Jess Hutchison booklet. (Luckily, Kim owns it!)

In spite of the intarsia squares, it's a fast knit. In addition to the front, I've done the back legs and started on the body. I'm hoping to finish the body tonight, which only leaves the little arms -- and seaming, stuffing, and applying eyes (after I buy them). It's a Christmas gift for a co-worker who saw the Jess Hutchison robots online and wants one SO bad. She knows I'm knitting it for her, and even helped choose the colors.

I tried to get Simon to pose with the robot, but all he wanted to do was wrestle with it.

Simon says, "I need one of these!"

Friday, December 08, 2006

I think I'll live...

For a while, it was a little doubtful. I felt worse on Wednesday, but dragged myself into work anyway, since I had to infect teach a class of nursing students. Thursday, though, I woke up with my throat on fire. When I tried to say hello to the cats, nothing happened. I got up, emailed the faculty member with whom I had a consult scheduled, to cancel it, and emailed a co-worker, asking her to cancel my dental appointment for me (pretty sure Dr. H really didn't want to peer into my mouth!). Then I went back to bed and slept most of the day.

Today I felt 100% better. However, I apparently looked and sounded pretty awful, because I was told to leave around 11:00. I felt a little guilty, but it was probably a good thing.

I know I felt a little better, though, because I was able to knit and to frog. I had started the Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style, but since I was using a heavier yarn than called for (Garnstudio Drops Alpaca, instead of Jaeger Cashmina), I had gone up from a US6 needle to a US9. I got about 25 rows in, and decided my needles were too big. So I ripped it all out (actually, I had already ripped it out once before, but there's no need to talk about that) and started over on US8s. So far, so good!

Shetland Triangle

Christmas tree 2006

I also got the Christmas tree up. Yes, it's fake (so I'm not allergic to it) and it's pre-lit (which was a great invention on somebody's part). No decorations yet - hopefully, that will happen tomorrow.

Harley is very interested in the tree....

Oh -- it sleeted in San Antonio this afternoon. It was in the low 40s, which is pretty cold for us, so it melted before it hit the ground, but there was, nevertheless, a mild panic.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I hab a code

Or maybe it's a cold. I'm pretty sure I brought it back from Chicago. I thought I was getting sick Sunday morning and by Monday, I was sure. Of course, since Monday was my first day back at work after two weeks gone, I had to be there. Besides, I was assisting with one class and teaching another. This morning, I did a presentation for approximately 75 dental students. In addition to my laptop, I took my box of kleenex and bottle of water. About twenty minutes in, I had a coughing fit - one of those that you feel in the back of your throat and know isn't going to go away easily. I coughed. I drank water. I coughed more. I drank more. I tried to speak. I coughed again. Finally I thought I was done coughing, and tried to speak. It came out as a croak! The students thought it was hilarious... I finally did recover my voice, but I finished the class sooner than planned!

There has been no knitting. My eyes hurt. So instead, here's the Holiday Meme that's been making the rounds.

1. Eggnog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot chocolate, I guess, although I like eggnog, too.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Huh? All presents are wrapped!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Usually all white, but I need new outdoor lights, so I’m thinking of getting colored ones. White on the tree, though.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No – it’s dangerous for the cats.

5. When do you put your decorations out?
Usually the first weekend of December but I’m running late this year.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
“Purple Salad,” a family tradition. Bing cherries, pineapple, mini-marshmallows folded into cream cheese and cool whip. And when my grandma was alive, homemade noodles. I can make the noodles, but I can’t get the chicken broth right.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
Going to Grandma’s the Sunday before Christmas, for dinner with Mom’s side of the family (this is the more sedate, less crazy side).

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I’m pretty sure Dad told me before I started kindergarten so I wouldn’t here it on the street somewhere.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
A lot of my ornaments are from the three years I lived in Germany – glass icicles, crystal snowflakes, and little wooden ornaments.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
I like the idea of snow, but not the reality!

12. Can you ice skate?
No, I have a lifetime history of bad ankles!

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
My favorite story about a gift wasn’t one of mine. The sedate side of the family always drew names for Christmas. One year my cousin Steve, who was a teenager, had my sister’s name (she was maybe three). His mom had of course bought the gift, and included in it was underwear. He was so embarrassed!

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you?
Spending time with my family, whether we’re here in Texas or in Illinois, and even if it's not exactly on Christmas Day.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Pumpkin pie. Or maybe bourbon balls.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
I make lots of little loaves of carrot-coconut bread for work friends. At the beginning of the season, I count out how many loaves I need to make, and I’m usually a little overwhelmed. But I’m always so happy I did it!

17. What tops your tree?
It used to be a German angel, but her wax face melted a little one summer. Now she stands on the mantel and I’ve got a vintage looking “spire” on the top of the tree.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
As someone said on their blog – who over the age of about 8 would say receiving???

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
I can’t choose just one. “Silent Night,” accompanied by just a guitar. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas.” Dean Martin’s version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (which isn’t really a Christmas song!)

20. Candy canes?
Maybe one, but usually they’re for decoration (and definitely not those mutant green and white ones!)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Back Home

Back home in Texas, that is. Sometimes, you know, "home" means Illinois!

My 7:25 flight out of O'Hare on Friday evening quickly became an 8:30 flight. We were actually on board before 8:30, but then they decided de-icing was necessary (hard to argue with that!). A de-icing truck arrived, but didn't do anything. A second de-icer arrived to do the job. Then the pilot announced that the first one had broken down, and would need to be towed away before we could take off. So it was 9:45 before we left O'Hare. However, we made good time and arrived in San Antonio around 12:30, where my sister was waiting to haul me and my luggage home.

An interesting thing happened at O'Hare. I was sitting on the floor beside the phone bank, so I could plug my iBook into one of the few available outlets. A young man knelt down beside me and asked, very slowly and with an accent, what money he needed for a phone call. He had a handful of change, but needed know how to make a call. I knew the number he had written down was Chicago-area, but since the multiple area codes there confuse me, I just dialed the number on my cell phone for him. He spoke to someone in Spanish, and when he hung up, said he needed to find baggage claim. I pointed out the sign to him and he walked off.

About five minutes later, my phone rang. A woman asked me if I had loaned my phone to someone. After I said yes, she asked if the young man was still around. They were worried because he hadn't arrived at the baggage claim yet. She asked that if I saw him again, would I help him find baggage?

I said sure, but since we were a long way from the baggage claim, I really didn't think I'd see him again. But then, a few minutes later, I looked up and there he was! He said he had walked and walked, but couldn't find baggage claim. I actually sort of wondered if I was on Candid Camera (or maybe being tested by some social researcher to see if I was a nice person). But the young man -- his name was Javier -- was so sincere, not to mention cute, that I left my laptop with the nice lady who was watching my other stuff for me, and set off with him toward baggage claim.

I tried to call the number for his friend again, and got voice mail, where I left a message, telling her that I had Javier with me and we were heading towards baggage claim. While we walked, Javier told me he was here on his first visit to the US, for vacation, but he hoped to go to college here. He was also very excited by the snow, since he had never seen it in Colombia. His English wasn't bad, but he was obviously nervous about speaking it. Just as we got to the escalator to baggage claim, where I would have to let him go by himself, my phone rang. It was his friend. They were waiting at the bottom of the escalator. So -- Javier shook my hand, got on the escalator, and waved good-bye. I worried for a while, but I'm pretty sure that I would have gotten a call from his friend if they hadn't found each other!

It was an interesting experience. It isn't surprising he asked me about making a call, since I was sitting right under a pay phone, but the fact that he came back to find me when he decided he was lost is. I mean - there were LOTS of other people around who he could have asked! I guess I looked sufficiently Mom-like, and he knew that I would help him. Obviously, he was right. So -- good luck, Javier, wherever you are!

Oh - and there's been very little knitting this weekend, although I did frog that red scarf. I just wasn't happy with the pattern I was using.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Blogging from O'Hare

Really, just because I can. $6.99 a day for internet access seems pretty reasonable.

Even though American cancelled dozens of flights out of O'Hare today (here's why), it looks like my 7:25 p.m. flight is going out on time, or close to it. So far, the travel gods have been with me:
  • the airport shuttle arrived at the hotel 5 minutes early;
  • we made it to O'Hare in less than half an hour (there was almost no traffic, probably because practically everything in Chicago shut down this morning due to the snow);
  • the curbside check-in guy didn't charge me, even though my big bag was "just a little bit" overweight (it's probably those two skeins of Lorna's Laces);
  • and there was NO line at security.

Of course, I had figured an extra two hours into the trip, so I'm killing some time now.

I might have Cinnabon for dinner.....