Cables and double-points and raglan decreases, oh my!

When I decided to make a sweater for my son, the first step was deciding on a pattern. I poked around a bit online. One of the things I noticed is that there are lots of patterns for kids up to age 6, and then not a lot until you reach adult sizes. Fortunately, my son has hit that age where he’s bordering between a youth extra-large and an adult small, so I looked at men’s sweater patterns. (Yes, it’s a bit of an emotional hit to realize I’m looking at adult sizes for my not-so-little boy who is growing up much too fast, but what can I do? He absolutely refuses to stop growing!) Continue reading

Biting off more than I can chew

I like doing handcrafts. I started young, learning basic chain-stitch embroidery from my parents (almost the only stitch I remember how to do), then crocheting from my mom (mostly because my little brother was learning, and I couldn’t stand for him to know if I didn’t — same reason I finally started riding a bike without training wheels). Eventually, I added more — knitting, sewing, quilting, and my new experiment, tatting. Continue reading

Kitchen gear

I saw this on Aliette de Bodard’s blog and figured I had to join in.

Bold the ones you have and use at least once a year, italicize the ones you have and don’t use, strike through the ones you have had but got rid of.

I wonder how many pasta machines, breadmakers, juicers, blenders, deep fat fryers, egg boilers, melon ballers, sandwich makers, pastry brushes, cheese knives, electric woks, miniature salad spinners, griddle pans, jam funnels, meat thermometers, filleting knives, egg poachers, cake stands, garlic presses, margarita glasses, tea strainers, bamboo steamers, pizza stones, coffee grinders, milk frothers, piping bags, banana stands, fluted pastry wheels, tagine dishes, conical strainers, rice cookers, steam cookers, pressure cookers, slow cookers, spaetzle makers, cookie presses, gravy strainers, double boilers (bains marie), sukiyaki stoves, food processors, ice cream makers, takoyaki makers, and fondue sets languish dustily at the back of the nation’s cupboards.

I am the breadmaker. The pizza stone — that wasn’t a conscious “Oh, we never use this any more.” It broke during a move, and I’d love to replace it. I just haven’t gotten around to it. The conical strainer is a new thing, and it’s not even in the kitchen; it’s part of my husband’s homebrew apparatus. I noticed cheese wire wasn’t on the list, although it is something I’d like to get.

The sandwich maker is part of a combination device — panini press, grill, griddle. I’ve used it just this summer to make panini (which did not thrill my kids), but it’s usually the griddle I use for pancakes, which they love.

Cake stands — I don’t have a stand per se, but I think I have those plastic things with fluting around the edges for making tiered cakes. I’d have to check. Clearly, not something I usually use — I put cakes on dinner plates, generally. (The most recent one, a crème brûlée cake, vanished quickly.)

What gadgets do you use around the kitchen?

Is magic your cup of tea?

Cover for The Trouble With Magic, by Madelyn AltA recent read was The Trouble With Magic, by Madelyn Alt. It’s the first book of a series that’s currently up to eight books — The Bewitching Mysteries. It combined two of my favorite types of book, cozy mystery and contemporary fantasy, so I was predisposed to like it. I was not disappointed. The Trouble With Magic came out in 2006, and the only thing that gave me real pause when I was reading was I had to stop and think about whether people still taped TV shows on their VCRs instead of using DVRs when the book came out. Silly, yes?

Other than that, the book caught me up into small town Indiana, where almost-Bible Belt values mean people tend to frown on people who claim to practice magic — people like Maggie O’Neill’s new boss, Felicity Dow. So when Felicity is blamed for her sister’s murder, not very many townspeople want to jump to her defense. Maggie does, however, and along the way to the solution starts to accept that her own intuition might be just the start of her own hidden talents.

I’ll almost certainly be picking up the rest of the series (who can resist a heroine who records reruns of Magnum, P.I.?), and then I’ll probably be looking for other magic/mystery crossovers, such as Barbara Bretton’s Chloe Hobbs’ Paranormal Mystery Series, Bailey Cates’ Magical Bakery Mystery Series, Carole Nelson Douglas, Delilah Street Mystery Series, and and and . . . yes, there are a lot of witch, ghost, and other paranormal cozy mysteries out there. (For more recommendations, check out’s lists of mysteries by theme: ghosts, psychics, vampires and werewolves, witches.)

What have you read recently that you enjoyed?

A dragon guards my tea

Recently, I switched from tea bags to loose-leaf tea. A little math:

1 pound = 16 oz.
20 tea bags are approximately 1.4 oz.
1 pound of tea bags, then, are 16 * 20 / 1.4 = 228.5 tea bags

20 tea bags (1 box) runs anywhere from $2 to $4, depending on the brand. So 1 pound of tea = 228 / 20 * $3 = $34.20. It can be less, it can be more, but that’s about the middle of the road. Continue reading

Cups of cake

Which is completely different than cupcakes. My friend Bonnie recently pointed me to a post on Cake Wrecks for steampunk cakes. There were some truly gorgeous cakes on there, including the hat with the clockwork butterflies that she’d originally called to my attention.

I alo loved the cups on that page.

Then I followed some of the links to the creators of the cakes. There are some truly gorgeous cakes out there. (I informed my son he doesn’t get one with dragon-shaped dragons for his birthday, but he says that’s not what he wants. Win-win!) And I ran across a lovely stack of teacup-shaped cakes with flowers made of frosting from Christopher Garren’s.

If my daughter ever decides to have tea parties, I’ll . . . work up to something like that. We’ll start with a single teacup-shaped cake, I think.

The first cup

teacup with blue flowers

The cup Mom gave me.

When I got married, my bridesmaids held a tea party for me as my bridal shower, and everyone gave me a teacup. Neither my mom nor my future mother-in-law came, but they both sent teacups. This is the one my mom sent. Continue reading

Here I am!

Over on my main page, I recently posted that I was having trouble with setting up multiple blogs and would have to go with a subdomain. I’ve done that, and I’m live!

Well, sort of.

I’ve got it installed, I’ve configured the appearance, and I’ve even set up some plug-ins (such as Akismet). However, what I wanted was for WordPress to accept rather than as the address structure. After some playing behind the scenes for a bit, I’ve decided it can’t be done for individual posts and pages, although it does work for the front page.

I’m still waiting a couple of days before I announce my presence to the world to give myself a bit of time to play.

Just as well, since I said I wouldn’t get this site up and running this month.

If you’ve somehow found me anyway, pour yourself a cup of tea, grab a comfy chair, and settle in. Try not to mind the dust too much as I move things around.