Sunday, June 28, 2009


When I told you, nearly two weeks ago, that there were big things on the horizon for me...well, I couldn't have imagined what all of them were. And sure enough, a lot of really great things have already happened.

What's not so great is that many of them have happened despite, or because of, what is best called an unfortunate discovery. I'm suddenly looking at some medical issues - not life-threatening, but definitely serious - and (for reasons I shouldn't go into) I am finding myself in search of a doctor.

But back to the good - I have, as ever, a fabulous husband, fantastic parents, amazing friends, and a really great job. All of this plays into the situation quite thoroughly, in ways I should have expected. I have referrals and appointments, I have insurance...and most importantly, I have support.

I'm not yet sure if I'll be fully disclosing my issue on the internets, and even if I do, I will most likely not give a play-by-play. What I do know is that if such a thing were going to come up, I'm one of the most fortunate people in the world to whom it could happen. When I come up with a way to pay it forward to others who don't, I may be letting y'all (all four of you, now) know.

In re: my last post, I had only a single taker. You know who you are. :) And in the interest of being true to my word, I'll be contacting you about your reward soon.

Surprisingly enough, there is other news. The no-foolin' version of my Baking 52 is in swing. So far, for semi-obvious reasons, it's taken place on Saturday nights...and now that I'm really giving it thought and time, it's going pretty well. To wit:

- Week 1: Easy Pecan Praline* Bars, based on this recipe from I had neither almonds nor brown I substituted with pecans and white sugar, and added more vanilla and extra butter. I think I was expecting something chewier (which is how I prefer my caramelized sugar), but this turned out a bit crystallized on top.

Baking 52, #1: Pecan Praline Bars

Not to worry, though. The bars were very nice warm, and a HUGE hit with Bryan and our folks. I'll try it again to see what I get with brown sugar properly done, but also to get some more of those raves.

- Week 2: Chocolate chip cupcakes, inspired by (but not taken from) the Cake Mix Doctor's cupcake book. Since yesterday was decidedly a Good Day, I picked up some cake mixes (and brown sugar) at the grocery and went digging through the book. While I wasn't lacking for ingredients, I didn't want to get too complicated. And also, maybe, I wanted to display my kitchen improv prowess just a little.

So I took a yellow cake mix and added a bit of brown sugar, some chocolate chips and extra vanilla, and a couple of secret weapons. I'm also 99% sure I left out the vegetable oil.

The results?

2/52: Two birds, one cupcake

Plain-looking, I know. But it doesn't seem to matter. They're practically perfect without icing - almost a creamy flavor that's sweet without overwhelming. And I'm not holding out on you, either. Just click on the photo if you'd like to see the recipe.

All in all, my life continues to surprise me, and no matter which way it turns, I'm still enjoying most everything. Which is not to say I wouldn't enjoy a little more calm now and then...

At least I'm starting to learn a bit not to plan quite as much. Besides, improvisation has always been my strong suit. Why not go with it?

* This is properly pronounced "peh-KAHN PRAY-leen," by the way. Because a "PEE-can" is what some people's dads made them use on road trips.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A square triangular number

In the most shameless of self-promotions, I'm telling the world here and now that today was the 36th anniversary of my birth. (In case you missed the broad hints - or, as Caety would put it, "hint with a doorframe.") This is for no sort of grabby purpose, mind you. It's just a frame for the sharing of mighty big stuff:

1/52: touched by 36

1 of 52, no foolin' this time.

There is, quite naturally, more...much more than I'm going to voice over the Intarwebs. In my 36th year (which is what preceded today, after all), there was more examining, shifting, and revealing than I'd previously thought possible. I discovered many things I'd forgotten, and many things I never before realized I knew.

I continue to be thoroughly stunned, but this little amble of mine is far from over, so I owe the universe a heap of gratitude, actively expressed.

Or, put more simply: if you were thinking about giving me a birthday gift - or even if the thought never crossed your mind - give your funds to one of these:

- San Jacinto Girl Scouts - the Houston-area council in which I was a Junior and Cadette.
- Crohn's and Colitis Foundation - because my husband (and many other people I know) could use a cure.
- Knitters Without Borders - because knitters (and all order of fiber artists) really know how to rally to a cause.
- Houston SPCA - because if you've ever seen Animal Cops Houston, you know how far those amazing people will go to help animals.

Remember that something nice to share that I promised? Make a donation of ANY amount (you don't have to tell me what that amount is) by this time next week, and tell me about it via e-mail (blog title no punctuation at earthlink) or commentation - and I'll give one contributor* a $50 online gift certificate of their choice. Yes, really!

Many thanks, and a happy June 15th to everyone. It wasn't all what I'd expected...but then, what about this whole year has been?

* chosen randomly

Friday, June 12, 2009

Quite false

I know, I know...overpromised, again. But I made an Executive Decision not to bore you with too many gory details about the DFW portion of the trip. Here's a quickie:

- The Yarn Harlot's Church of Knitting, and the attendant knitters, were quite fabulous.
- Non-blood Nephew Thomas continues to be the cutest four-year-old on two legs ever.
- Yarn crawling with Amy is still a hell of a lot of fun.
- Four-day weekends are a really, really nice refresh.

Tally for the weekend:

- Approximate miles driven: 900
- Books signed by the Yarn Harlot: 2
- Gifts given to the Yarn Harlot: 1
- Cones of Habu laceweight bamboo acquired: 2
- Skeins of Comfort Sock: 2
- Swatches begun and pulled out: 3
- Yarn stores visited: 3
- Best friends hugged: 2
- Free room and board appreciated: you betcha (thanks, Genghis)
- Cats missed: 2
- Husband missed: 1


Realizing that I am already a bit off-kilter with them, and also that I have a very hip Significant Start Date at the ready, both the Photo 52 and the Baking 52 will reset (again), to resume on Monday. By then, my ducks should be much more row-like and my day...far more birthy. :)

And speaking of Monday...I'm going to do my damndest to have a good favor to ask y'all, and something nice to share in gratitude. In the meantime, have an unbelievably stellar weekend, and do something good for yourself!

* Of course I knew this before. I lived up there for 10 years.

Monday, June 08, 2009


Me and the overpromising, I swear. Here, only a day late, are sneak preview photos of the DFW adventure (click for story bits):

Amy's gift

Amy gifts the Harlot with a private beer.


Thomas reacts to the promise of sugar.

And I develop camnesia on a yarn crawl with Amy.


In other news:

Baking 52, week 2: cranberry muffins

These little dears are week 2 of a project I mentioned in passing, now receiving full airtime. Close on the heels of beginning the 52 Weeks self-portrait project, I hit upon another way to bring more Motivation into my life...and enter 52 Weeks of Baking (or Baking 52 for short).

Week 1 were the goodies for the Harlot, as mentioned in the previous post. The cranberry cookies are a standby, adapted from Bryan's mom's oatmeal chocolate chip recipe, and rarely go awry.

The brown sugar shortbread came from this book, which is lovely and has a ton of recipes I'm looking forward to trying...but either my oven, or their typing, was off, and the shortbread came close to burning. So: should you aim to use this recipe yourself, definitely keep an eye on it.

This interlude reminded me just how important one of my baking rules can be: set the timer for half or less of the indicated baking time, and go check and rotate when it goes off. In my oven, this was slightly overbaked at 30 minutes, and would have been inedible by just imagine if I'd tried to go the full 60 the recipe calls for.

I realized that I was about to miss Week 2 after 8 pm Saturday, so I adapted a muffin recipe from Betty Crocker for cranberry goodness. Alas, I overestimated the sweetening power of cranberry-pomegranate juice and ended up with a tart-to-bland concoction. Fortunately, it was edible enough that I'll try again, with added sugar.

Irons in the fire, I haz them. Endeavors and potential are flying fast and furious around here. More on the DFW trip...soon!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Austin, late of mind (Harlot '09, part 1)

What a week, folks. And I don't necessarily mean that in the good way. But never mind - several things came up that made me slow down and take better care of myself, which can only be a good thing.

So, Austin. Just over three weeks ago, when I first discovered that the Yarn Harlot was coming back to Texas, I very nearly panicked, thinking there was no way I could go to Austin or Dallas, either one. Then Bryan very sensibly suggested I ask my boss...who promptly said yes, and seemed surprised at my nervousness. And so:

Wed. night, 5/27: Up till 2 am baking brown-sugar shortbread (lovely, but almost a disaster) and my famous cranberry cookies. Also packing.

Thur., 5/28, 11 am-5:30 pm: On the road only half an hour late, ill-advised walk from hotel to Hill Country Weavers in late-afternoon sun, excellent Japanese fast food (!) lunch, much-welcomed cool-down in cute hotel room (as seen in previous entry).

6 pm: Get semi-lost in downtown looking for Book People, receive navigation from husband in Houston & finally find it, settle in, am joined by David, thoroughly enjoy Stephanie's talk with these folks:

madding crowd

Realize I have left cookies in car; go down to retrieve them and return to line up. Kinnear David again:

kinneared again

(Hey, it's tradition by now. What can I do?)

...give cookies to a hungry Stephanie, who seems thoroughly pleased and appreciative (also below). Tell her not only have I driven up from Houston to see her today, I'll be in Dallas to see her tomorrow. Am convinced it is the cookies that prevents her from looking at me like I'm completely nuts; she simply warns me it's the same talk, to which I shrug and respond "It's always good."*

9 pm: Meander out to car again, giddy, exhausted, and a bit lonely. Call Bryan to report, wander until I find a Thundercloud, acquire the Nada Chicken with hummus sandwich I've missed for a year and a half:

nada chicken. todo dinner.

...return to the hotel, and settle in with a vat of iced tea, The Simpsons, my MacBook, and a whole hell of a lot of air conditioning.

5/29, 2 am: Finally collapse into sleep.

5/29, 10:30 am: Rise, but do not manage to shine.

12 noon: Check out of hotel, return to Thundercloud for a Nada Chicken for the road, and slide on up I-35 to Tarrant County!

The fun doesn't end there...if only the madness did, I might have been more human. Oh well. Part 2 of the journey, coming tomorrow (not an empty promise, either)!

* Which, indeed, it was.