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Archive for March, 2008

Definitely March in Michigan

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Thursday it was so warm and sunny that I left my coat behind and did not miss it. I was wearing my beret/hat, a sweater and legwarmers, but no coat, scarf/shawl, or gloves/wristwarmers. No problem. It was lovely.

The snow in our yard is down to a very small pile, not a whole yard wide and not all of two inches deep. At its  largest (in February), it was several feet high from so much shoveling all in a short while.

Friday they are predicting snow. In a 24-hour period we may get enough to shovel. That’s March in Michigan for you.

I still like it better than the February we had. (Ugh.) Thaws alternating with snow is my cup of tea right now!

Fabulous Heftones, Two Shows This Week!

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

I can not tell you how glad I am that February is over and we are on the way to better days. The weather service says we will still have some cold days, but not as much cold and snow as we had in February anyway. This would be normal for March. In fact, we usually get a few flurries in April, too. In the meantime, the few melting days give me hope.

And the performance schedule for The Fabulous Heftones has also warmed up a bit this week! I’m happy to have a musical week lined up.

We will be playing two vastly different venues this Friday and Saturday, Foods for Living health food store in East Lansing (from 2-4 in the afternoon), and then Rendezvous on the Grand, a very fine social/drinking establishment in Old Town (three bands, show 9:30pm-1am, I do not know when we will be on during that time). How different can it get? And all fun, of course.

So here is the postcard I’m mailing out this week to friends without email access (click to get a larger image):

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If you want an Adobe Acrobat PDF document to print, Click Here. It will print 4 postcards for you, that’s how the document is set up, but it is quite readable.

This postcard presents three new venus, places where we have never performed before. May I exclaim out loud about how excited I am that we will be playing JazzFest in Lansing this year? Our music is indeed very early jazz. My favorite singer of the 1920’s is Annette Hanshaw, who was one of the first Jazz singers (though sadly forgotten through the years, she was brilliant). I do a good number of songs she performed.

And let’s face it, an act in their home town is often passed by for someone outside the city limit. I am very happy to have a chance to smile at Lansing from an Old Town stage on the 2nd day of August. This is looking up to be a good year!

Mid-Michigan Knitters Guild (New Location) Tuesday

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

The MMKG (Lansing, Michigan greater area knitting guild) is in transit. Tonight is the monthly large meeting (3rd Tuesday, 7pm-9pm). However, we are moving toward a new location. We have been in University Lutheran Church (East Lansing) for many years. However, this month we have a temporary location and then we will move to a long-term new home.

Tonight we meet at the Okemos branch of the CADL library, also called Hope Borbas Library. When I was a little girl (around 1962) we lived in downtown Okemos. (This was before the mall and Meijer… there were horses in the barn which now is Pilgrim House furniture store.) Mom would walk us to the library where Hope Borbas herself read me stories. She was a kind person, and when her life ended too soon they honored her by naming the branch after her. I love that.

I also moved back to Okemos for one year as an adult, I think it was around 1990. At that time, the library was still “downtown” Okemos (which has a mall now a mile or two away, overpowering any sense of a real downtown). For a reference point, locals, it was about a block from Traveler’s Club Restaurant and Tuba Museum.

I just Googled for the Hope Borbas Library, though, and it is shown as on Okemos Road south of Mount Hope (not as far as the railroad tracks). It looks like it’s near the light at Science Parkway. I sure am glad I spent the time to look it up. For those who would like to check out a map to the new location, here is the page presented by the Capital Area District Library/CADL website:

http://www.cadl.org/news/locations/okemos

I hope local folks will join us. You do not need to be super skilled, you just have to love yarn and knitting and/or crochet. It’s a friendly group, sort of large, so do tell folks you are sitting with that you are new. They might think they should remember meeting you before, with 30-50 people at a meeting. You need not be invited to show up and be welcome (and the snacks are always artful and tasty, if I can lure you that way).

Oh, for the record, the 3rd Tuesday meetings starting in April 2008 will be at the Haslett Public Schools Administration Building at 5593 Franklin Street in Haslett, very near the Middle School.

I Wish I Spoke Better Spanish…

Monday, March 17th, 2008

I love the Spanish language. If I could live my college years over again, I would major in Spanish, in one way or another. That is past, but I have occasionally taken Spanish I over and over again, as an audit, at the local community college. I have sometimes taken Spanish II though for some reason it does not fit my schedule as well.

Once upon a time, in the days before Brian, I planned to move to Mexico. I know that if I lived somewhere like that, I would be up and running without too much delay. I just take to language well, if I allow myself focus.

But now I’m in Lansing for the long haul, it appears. When I find myself lucky, I get to read Spanish here and there, and I recognize maybe every 5th word. I can sort of figure out what is going on but not with any certainty.

Sometimes I go to Mexican restaurants or groceries in Lansing. I just love listening to the sound of the language flow during a conversation. There is such a happiness in me to hear people just plain chatting (or asking where they keep this or that item on the shelves). I love the sound of the language even when I can not tell at all what the subject is.

So today while surfing too much I found a website, Tejemanejes, (labores laneras para internautas hispanohablantes) which is apparently an online knitting magazine in the Spanish language. And the first pattern is wonderful, a cashmere sweater (la perla negra/black pearl) with v-neck that is modeled on a man but I can tell they believe it to be unisex. I’d agree… I would love to have that sweater in my closet (even in black). The bottom “hem” is straight, no ribbing but no hem either (must be the stitch pattern allows it to lie flat).

There are other fascinating photos of pattern (patron) projects. No doubt some of you reading this will be able to use these patterns (and articles) without a struggle. In my case, there is no way my limited Spanish will get me through the very specialized knitting instructions.

I don’t make many sweaters, but this Black Purl one is really right up my alley. I guess in this case it’s good that I have an excuse that I can’t even start to make it!

There are some other interesting designs as well. There is a cabled moebius scarf, what appears to be crocheted colorwork socks, a hair net that appears to be silk/stainless steel from Habu, and a toy; a crocheted “rock star dinosaur.” One of the dinosaurs has an eyepatch, very fun.

(Woohoo… I just looked in the archives, and a wonderful hat based on an Egyptian sock motif, includes guidelines in English for knitting it. It’s not a full pattern but it is a guide and a chart. For me, that would work great, and I bet it will be enough for a few of you out there as well.) Actually, in the archives there are a number of items with English help.

I hope I translated the tiny bit I dared, correctly enough to not embarrass or confuse anyone. Let us face it, many knitters love looking at pictures of knitted items. This will work well in the pictures arena, even if you are, like me, Spanish handicapped when it comes to knitting patterns.

Photo? I took this in 1996, in Tulum, Yucatan, Mexico. Can you see the small squarish pyramid top and left? The water at right is the Caribbean Ocean. It is an ancient and holy place, one of the few places in the world where I literally can find no words.

It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen, and I’ve had the great fortune to travel a bit. This photo was taken with film, printed on photo paper, scanned in, and manipulated for the web when many computers had the capacity to display merely 16 colors on screen. Please forgive its lack of detail and darkness, that’s the best I could do at the time.

I Made My Own Paneer Cheese!

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

mattarpaneer.jpg

I read on Cosmic Pluto’s weblog about her making her own Indian food, Mattar Paneer. She shared the recipe for making this Indian cheese (it does not melt and is not aged/fermented, a very unusual food). I have not had any aged/fermented foods or yeast/mold category foods since 1991, and thought all cheeses were on the “no-no” list. Imagine my surprise when I heard you could make the cheese and eat it less than an hour later. No aging!

For several years I avoided dairy foods but luckily that rest did my system well and now I can have dairy if it is not aged (I miss my yogurt but I have not missed standard “sour” cheeses at all). Ice cream is a real treat, though it is hard to find it without raw egg as an emulsifier, even in a health food store. Luckily I have found one brand I can get locally and that has been a wonderful delight in the last several months. But I digress.

I love Indian food. When I travel, I seek out Indian restaurants. Even better, I have had several friends, co-workers, students over the years who were from India, and thus I have been gifted with foods from folks’ kitchens, the best ever.

I bought an intro-to-Indian-food cookbook over a year ago but never made anything from it. After I had that week where I could barely drink tea in early February, the first thing I craved when I wanted to eat again, was Indian food. And just a few weeks later, Cosmic Pluto posted the recipe she got from a friend who is Indian. Score!

I went to the Health Food store and got some whole milk. It can’t be ultra-pasteurized to make cheese, but I got some that was regular health-level pasteurized only, and it was even the kind where you have to shake it because the fat rises to the top (not homogenized).

And I made Paneer, and it was pretty darned simple to do. Then I made the vegetable base, Mattar Paneer (green peas in a spiced tomato sauce with chunks of paneer in it) from Cosmic Pluto’s recipe. She had made the recipe more simple than her friend’s version… but since I do not like fussing in the kitchen I sped it up even more. And it was really good, and it made me VERY happy.

You may have to look for the cheese in this photo. Since it does not melt and is white, it may look like pieces of tofu in the sauce there. I think firm tofu may substitute, but the cheese was a real treat for me. I put the sauce on quinoa rather than rice, and we garnished the dish with chopped cilantro. Any fresh herb you enjoy would garnish well, I would imagine. The fresh leaves on top of the smooth and spicy sauce were a great balance.

Let Us Knit Spring into Existence

Friday, March 14th, 2008

partystole400.jpgEvery year in February/March I favor hot greens and light turquoises. The year I came home from 38 days in sunny Africa, to a blizzard, I realized what I was doing. I was trying to “Knit Spring into Existence.”

That year I went to Threadbear and bought some Koigu handpainted brushed mohair in an incredible spring/grassy green. I continued to scan the store until I found 4 other yarns that also spoke of warm shoots pushing up in a garden, with a clear blue sky above.

With those yarns, I started to knit a stole (which actually took me more than a year to complete). That impulse purchase in the end became my Party Stole pattern.

This is not the only time I have done something on this thought-wavelength. I have noticed for a half-dozen years, that if I dye yarn in February it comes out in the spring-green/turquoise realm, every time. Right now I am wearing spring green bulky yarn footies over my thinner wool socks. I have knit a pair of spring green alpaca/wool Aran-weight (thick) yarn socks in the last month or two. I am also test knitting a mitten, and I could have done that in any yarn from my stash but I picked a hot green Cascade merino/angora blend. I am again trying to knit spring.

SO: I propose a little project. I propose we all knit spring (or crochet, sew, embroider, dye, spin or otherwise work creatively) in concert. This can be a one-day instant project, from a favorite pattern or a new project from one of the excellent books on one-skein projects. It can be bigger, but I’m thinking instant is closer to my concept. For some reason, any project at all can make me feel like I have regained my power over this miserable weather (or even life as a whole). Hey, I’m a mortal human but I can pretend.

I invite you to send me photographs of your project, anything that feels like bringing spring to town early in your own mind. It does not have to be my pet color scheme. (I am guessing Diana/Otterwise is likely to choose yellows for sunlight… I recall her cooking an almost-entirely yellow meal to celebrate solstice.) I will post the projects I receive from you any time in March.

But please hear me… do not send me huge photos straight from your camera. I can not afford to be slammed by too many huge photos at a time. If you know you are not techie enough to edit your photo to a smaller size, consider putting it on Flickr or another website for photos and send me the web page address where it lives (this is ideal, more so than an attachment). If you do not have that option, write me first, before sending a very-large photo via email. If you send me an attachment photo, the largest measurement in either direction should be 400 pixels or less. Thanks.

That said, my email address is Lynn (AT) ColorJoy DOT com. I am eager to see what/if you care to share. Thanks!

(Photos: Me wearing my Party Stole (pattern), Gentle Joy colorway of my Tiptoe Sockyarn.)

MagKnits Pattern!!!

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

lynnhsubmissionsipparoo.jpg(Note added much later: MagKnits has gone out of business and their website is down permanently. You can download this pattern now at Ravelry.com or Craftsy.com.)

The MagKnits.com magazine which was delayed to March is now up, with my Sipp-A-Roo pattern (like a kangaroo pouch for your water bottle). It actually has been up since February 29. I had a few reasons for delaying the announcement here… and I won’t go into all that.

I finished felting two more Sipp-A-Roos using different yarn combinations, a few days ago (OK, so I stuck with my favorite green-turquoise-blue range, after all I am trying to knit spring into existance this time of year). So without any more delay, here is the official photo, and an additional one with 2 more bags.

I actually was inspired by a few friends who have children (and thus strollers). They carry water bottles but they have so much else to carry it seemed a good idea to make a bottle carrier that would strap to the stroller. Never mind that my shoulder-strap bags work great when I walk (which is often) and not at all when I ride my bike (not often enough). Brian rides his bike to work every day the weather is warm enough, and other friends also ride bike a lot (including knitting friend Cynthia who helped me proofread the ZigBagZ pattern charts).

sipparoo2samples16.jpgSo here is a bottle bag which will work for bicycles, strollers, perhaps even backpack straps. For anyone toting some water along with them. Wool bags do a great job of insulating, too, so if your bottle sweats in the humid weather you will be glad for the fabric as well as the strap.

The pattern can be found at Magknits Pattern Page. Photos and additional information can be see on my Ravelry Sipp-A-Roo project page (if you are a member of Ravelry, which is free but requires a bit of a wait to get in).

Anybody who knits one of these (or any of my patterns, for that matter) is invited to send me a photo of their project. I would LOVE to show off your work here on my blog. Perhaps we can say that I might give you the 15 minutes of fame Andy Warhol talked about? Or not, your choice.

For the knitters interested in the yarns used, I’m including that information here. For my non-knitter readers, you can tune in again tomorrow for less techie-knitter writings!!!

The aqua/gray bag on the MagKnits site (upper left here) is Nashua Creative Focus Worsted aqua with DiVe’ Autunno (which is actually a slowly-self-striping gray to turquoise colorway but it just looks gray here).

The Greenish-Turquoise with Teal is Karaoke Solid turquoise (wool/soy silk, notice the strap did not felt as much because of the soy silk though it looks lovely), and Malabrigo Worsted Merino teal. The Malabrigo felts very quickly so I stopped when the bag was the right circumference for the bottle, leaving the strap lightly felted. This bag “lives” at Rae’s Yarn Boutique in Lansing, Michigan.

The Green/Pink bag is Nashua Creative Focus Worsted (wool/alpaca) Emerald and Paton’s Classic Wool (That’s Pink). The Nashua is a little more dense and is much fuzzier than the pink, so the green it felted very quickly and dominated the bag after felting. I think it looks like a garden.

Join Us? March 22 in Lansing, Michigan

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

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(Click image for a Letter-Sized PDF poster.)

Brownies for the Guys

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

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On Tuesday I made brownies, three bread pans/18 smallish squares… and piled them on a disposable plate. And took them to the corner Meineke Muffler shop. I went in maybe an hour before they were to close. Apparently I caught them at a slow time, because three guys were standing at the front desk, apparently chatting.

I asked “So you guys like brownies, right?” They answered in the affirmative. So I told them I made them brownies as a thank you for giving me a good week. And I drove away, no doubt as they were diving in to the goodies.

That made me feel good.

Another Recipe Site

Monday, March 10th, 2008

I found Gretchen’s Kitchen while looking for a recipe for an Indian bread. I found many other recipes, not only Indian in origin, but other locales throughout the world.

The photos (when there are some) are not over-fancy. They do not “style” the foods, they just take photos and then eat (as I do, when I share a recipe with you).

I am eager to try the spicy kohlrabi and a few of the Indian flat breads. Perhaps you will find a recipe that sounds good to you, as well.

Temesgen’s New Video

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

temesgen.jpgMy friend Temesgen is a musician who specializes in one specific style of ancient Ethiopian music. He is the house musician for Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine (see photo at right). He plays there the first Saturday of most months (sometimes messed up by holidays, for example he will not play in July).

Temesgen has a website, Temesgen.com, and he has several CDs available there as well as a new video he just released. There is also a Youtube version of it, for those who like to subscribe to Youtube contributors. I just watched it and enjoyed it very much. It is not like any sort of music I grew up with, but it’s soothing and rhythmic in a way that is more like the earth and less like a march or a polka.

I knew Temesgen’s wife Carol back when I was still teaching computer classes. I taught her how to code HTML web pages (when there were no truly functional programs that created web pages for you). But I digress. Just suffice it to say that in Lansing it seems that everyone knows everyone these days!

Do consider taking a look at a video by a man who is keeping alive a musical tradition that is dying out. And if you find this interesting, consider reading some related detail on Wikipedia (much of which was contributed to the wiki by Temesgen himself):

Car Shop Made My Day

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

Joy BugI had a sound in the back wheel of my car. It sounded like something plastic dragging, then a clunk, then a drag and another clunk. I got on the ground several times after hearing it, and looked for something but there was nothing. It seemed louder when I would brake to a full stop. I was worried.

I went to the corner Meineke Muffler shop, where they are “just folks” and talk straight talk to me. I’m pretty sure this is a franchise, but at least the folks on the corner (where I can walk from our house) have always felt right to me. It’s not fancy, but that makes me clear they aren’t marking up my repairs to pay for the decor, you know?

I’ve been going there maybe 15+ years (starting when I did not live in the neighborhood), whenever they can do the work. (I have a VW New Beetle, sometimes the dealer is the only place… sometimes another shop with the right sort of Bug Computer does my work.) For mufflers, brakes, shocks, things like that, I always go to this corner shop.

When I had my ’85 VW Golf with 250,000 miles on it, they did not act like I was wrong to love/keep that old car. A dealer doesn’t look twice at a 14-year-old vehicle, they just think you need a new one. And since it’s their business to love new cars, of course that’s what they think. But at Meineke they like old cars, they understand.

One guy who has been working there 11 years, told me he expects my car to go maybe over 300,000 miles. (I had just told him that it had 131,000 already on it.) I tell you what, that is the guy I want working on my car!

Meineke has twice in the last year sent me away with a little tweak and an explanation… but they didn’t need to bill me and they chose not to. Hey, if they did not need to order a part and have a mechanic on it more than the initial look, they can do it that way. Of course, most shops can bill a little for that and I’d pay it, it’s business. No real big deal.

Today? The coolest news. When I got 2 new tires earlier this year and the tire place moved the front ones to the back, one of the bolts did not get screwed on well. It unscrewed itself. Since I have a sort of hubcap that seals on the wheel tightly, the bolt was in there clunking around. The cap is made of plastic, so that explains the way I described it. I could hear it better when I was going slowly, which makes sense. Nothing wrong with the brakes or the shocks. Woohoo!!!

Can you feel my relief? My elation? He showed me the problem. He screwed the bolt back in securely. He sent me away without a bill. My Joy Bug and I are having a very good day.

Yup, that shop will get my business again. These folks are the real thing.

A You Make My Day Award

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

youmakemydayaward.jpgVicki of KnittingDragonflies has given me (and my mother) both a “You Make My Day” blogland happiness award. Vicki, I am absolutely honored to be on your list.

Leeann of Wool & Chocolate awarded me this same honor in late January (just as I was heading into the month-of-low-health which we just finished up. I did mention the award when she gave it to me.

I find it impossible to name 10 people. Some of those I might choose have been chosen dozens of times already. I look at my Google Reader (blog organizing system) and I have 20 blogs listed under “friends.” There is no way to do this without hurting someone who I think is fabulous.

So I will specifically decide to exclude every single blog which is knitting or wool related. And I will not choose exactly 10. But I’ll put a few here I have not seen elsewhere (I mostly see knitting blogs awarded, because I am frequently reading knitting blogs).

I am making sure to list only blogs that are updated several times a week. Right now those are criteria that bring my list down to something somewhat manageable. I think these are listed approximately in the order I discovered them.

If you write a knitting or related blog, please know that I wanted very much to choose your site for this award but it was an impossible task.

OK, here are the non-knitting blogs I read regularly, listed under my first list “Friends” in Google Reader. They all do make me happy for Blogland, so this is as reasonable a choosing system as any I can imagine:

The Iceland Weather Report – A woman born in Iceland, raised in Canada, tells of the everyday and the unusual back in Iceland where she has lived for the last 14 years of her adult life. I love her candid and observant writing style.

The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz – This writer is also a gifted photographer. Her passion (for food, cityscapes of all sorts, cilantro, rice, and life) keeps me coming back. Photos of New York City every Monday.

Kathleen’s Vegetarian Kitchen – My Sister-in-Love Kathy (Brian’s sister) lives in Florida, cooks vegetarian, even shows how to make mozzarella cheese at home. Also traveling/restaurants, both in the USA and out.

Doug Berch – music friend who posts about his music performing and recording, his instrument building (lap/mountain dulcimers, really beautiful to the eyes as well as ears) and sometimes poetry. He’s a fine human being, too.

Ukulele & All That Jazz – Howlin’ Hobbit, a ukulele player in Seattle. I met him through this blog (a report on one of the regional ukefests brought him the first time). He talks about his city, about performing, recording, and geeky interesting things. Never a dull moment.

And here are two blogs about house renovating that I read less often, but when I do get there they can keep me up till too late reading every single word. They are not friends, I may not have even left them any comments before, but I have shared the sites with interested friends:

Stucco House – In the twin cities of Minnesota, a little 1920s bungalow. I used to own a bungalow in Lansing, and I was born in “The Cities.” I’m fascinated.

The Petch House – a Victorian in Eureka, California, which was pretty much gutted and subdivided when the current owner moved in. Reclaimed lumber from warehouses, vintage tile laid one tiny hexagon at a time. Vintage-era light fixtures, re-wired up to code. Absolutely riveting to me.

And a blog I am really new to, but which has exotic and beautiful photographs. I think I followed a food link to this but I do not see food when I look today. I’m not sure I can say that this fits the original essence of the award since I’m still figuring it out. However, what I’ve found so far (living outside the USA, fascinating architecture, embellishment, clothing, photography) sure makes my heart sing when I go there (Yarnstorm fans will enjoy this photography with certainty):

My Marrakesh – You will have to figure this one out yourself, but the photos are worth a peek if you do not read a word.

Too Beautiful to be Real

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Kristin Nicholas linked to a blog I had not read before this week, KnittingIris. These are magical but real photos of hoarfrost, the most incredible natural beauty, photos from three very cold winter mornings. If you need to feel better about the cold weather, this might help.

KnittingIris also has some wonderful photos of the recent lunar eclipse. Worth seeing, in my opinion.