Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Many have asked: The origin of Asparagus & Mayonnaise

When you're young(er) and you leave home and go out into the world, you often are confronted with the idea that your "normal" is not normal to others.  I'm not talking about the big things like politics and religion and overall world-view; I'm talking about the little things.  Like when I found out that some people won't eat any brand other than Peter Pan peanut butter, or who think nothing of making Campbell's tomato soup by adding water to it instead of milk (honestly, that one still makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.  Sorry if I offend).  Or those turns of phase that people from other places or other families have that make you cock your head and think, "Huh.  I see what you did there, but I've never heard that in my life.  Where did that come from?".

I started dating my now husband when I was 20, so I still had a lot of "normal" things to be confronted with.  He liked to point out my "non-normal" things rather relentlessly (but, like, totally lovingly.  Hi, Sweetie!)  Like the term "piecing" for snacking ("I'm not too hungry for supper; I've pieced all afternoon").  Or keeping the potato chips in the oven (where else would you keep them???).  Or the very existence of an actual, distinct "wh" sound (Oh, do not get me started...).  

Food is often a great player in the battle of "my normal vs. your normal".  To this day, Gator refuses to admit that grits are actually food.  He calls them a by-product in the processing of feed-corn (He likes to think that being from Iowa makes him a great expert in corn.  Yeah, like being from Missouri makes me some great expert in crystal meth, or something, but I digress).  But the one thing that made his eyes bug out, his mouth drop open, and then made him never shut up about it for, like, days was the way I eat, courtesy of my sweet, ever-lovin' Papa, canned asparagus.

Step 1:  Open can of Green Giant asparagus.
Step 2:  Drain liquid.
Step 3:  Pour asparagus onto a plate.
Step 4:  Smother with Miracle Whip Salad Dressing.
Step 5:  Nom nom nom.

Now, I never claimed this was healthy.  I simply claimed that, if I were to eat canned asparagus, this is the way it has always and will always happen.  The end.

Gator was/is horrified.  In fact, when he once took a creative writing class that focused on children's literature, he wrote a story based on the topic of his culinary nightmares.  And now I offer this story to you in its entirety, since every children's publisher he sent it to in 1997 rejected it.  Big ol' dummies.  Oh, well.  Your gain, I suppose.

Bad Asparagus

Once there was a kingdom where people and chickens lived happily together.  The chickens could laugh and talk and even dance.  Every week the people and the chickens had a big party and everyone was invited.  

King Cluck, the King of the chickens, always came to the parties.  He was a big white rooster and he always wore a red vest with shiny brass buttons.  On his head he wore a golden crown with a picture of himself on top.  

King Cluck liked the parties because everyone blew the kazoo.  He especially liked the kazoo the he blew because it had a picture of him right on it.  

He also liked the pretty balloons that went pop when he pecked them and the bubbly punch that made him sneeze like an old buffalo.  Kerchew!

But most of all, King Cluck liked asparagus.  Yes, asparagus.  He thought it was wonderful stuff and he ate it all the time.

"Chomp! Chomp!"

"What was that noise?" thought King Cluck.

"Chomp! Chomp!"

He turned around and saw little Suzy Fopinpop eating the biggest, juiciest piece of asparagus he had ever seen.

"Little Suzy, can I have some of your asparagus?" asked Cluck.  "I will make you a chicken princess!"

"Yes," said little Suzy, "you can have some of my asparagus."

King Cluck bowed to the little girl and then he took as very big bite of asparagus.  At first he smiled but then he turned green.

"Oh, my!" he cried.  "Oh, dear!" he howled.  "This asparagus is bad somehow!"

Little Suzy Fopinpop laughed at the big chicken hopping around in front of her.  "My mother was right!" she giggled.  "I am the only one who likes mayonnaise on my asparagus!"

Then she danced and danced and blew the kazoo.

The End

When I started this blog and was trying to come up with a name, this story was stuck in my head.  Granted, I am a Miracle Whip over mayonnaise kind of girl, but that just didn't have the same pizzazz.  And so, forever after, my online presence will be dominated by my (by Gator's standards) most non-normal bit of normalcy.  And the inexplicable sound of kazoos.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Official Year

I have unofficially (heck, it’s my house – make it official! Yell it from the rooftops! I can change my mind later if I want!) declared this year the year of COLOR!

Our split-level condo has lots of plusses, but an overabundance of natural light is not one of them. Pair this with generally neutral furnishings and my long-standing love of navy blue, and things can get pretty drab pretty fast.

So I’m punching it up! Adding some pizzazz up in here! Gettin’ jiggy wit’ it! Or other phrases I sound just as ridiculous saying. Trust me. Or, in more knit-friendly slang: I’m busting some stash and brightening things up with some cool retro motifs!

I started small with a tissue box cozy adapted from that most beloved retro motif – the Granny square. So quick, so easy and so addictive that I made two in just a couple of hours. My only complaint is that I can see through to the tissue box a little too readily, but read on for my future plans to fix this…

Granny's Tissue Box Cover by Daniela Herbertz
Assorted acrylic scraps, US G hook

Then I moved on to throw pillows. A little grouping of cheerful pillows on a neutral sofa can really punch up the color level in a room quite quickly!

I purchased a nice, large, soft form for the largest pillow since my existing throw pillows were quite small.

Think of Japan While Knitting block motif
Assorted acrylic scraps, size US G hook

The smaller pillows were navy blue but now they're much more eye-catching! Granny squares are quite a "holey" and I was afraid the old pillow would show through too much. So I went with the Spiky Granny Square motif that fills in the holes quite a bit more. The center part of the square still has the traditional holes, so I made the center navy to lessen the contrast as much as possible.

 Spiky Granny Square by Bunny Mummy
Assorted acrylic scraps, size US G hook

The Spikey Granny Square will also be adapted for future tissue box cover projects to keep the cardboard from showing through. I'll keep you updated on how it works!

The backs were a lighter shade so I varied the colorway on the back of the pillow and made the center lighter. Plus I have a slightly different look by simply flipping the pillow over!

The ripple pattern covers the old pillow completely, so I didn't have to worry about any show-through. I made this in an envelope style, slipped the pillow in, and buttoned it up with some plain but awesomely bright buttons.

Easy Ripple Afghan by SusanB
Assorted acrylic scraps, size US G hook

The ripple goes all the way around the pillow, so I can flip this one over to change up the look as well!


I smile every time I see these splashes of color in my living room!

 Next on the color front are some antimacassars made using the African Flower motif. But these are kind of on the back burner because I've just cast on my fifth shawl of the year.

 Oh yeah, that's right -- this is also apparently officially the year of SHAWLS...

 Officially the year of "I'm crazy" is more like it...

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Doctor is in.

This was a Christmas gift I made for my husband's niece, a Whovian of massive proportions. Meet the Eleventh Doctor, complete with fez (Fezzes are cool!) and his most constant companion, the TARDIS.

This was Utilitarian crochet at its finest and they were a blast to make. I used patterns exclusively, but did have to spend a little time making revisions to get the coat to fit the doll properly. Other than that, you reads the pattern, you gets the Doctor. Nice. Oh, the hair was a little different. But the instructions are actually quite good and if you just do what they say, you will get good hair. Peasy!

Matt Smith Big and Cuddly Doctor Who by Nyss Parkes
Various acrylic scraps, size US D hook

The TARDIS was ultimately just a box, but it really benefitted from plastic canvas reinforcement to keep the edges sharp when stuffed. I cut four pieces, tacked them together at the corners so they wouldn't bulge, then affixed them to the top of the sides before I attached the roof. The roof was a simple square, which naturally peaked (with a little tug of the top "light") once the stuffing was complete.

TARDIS amigurumi by Army of Owls
Red Heart Super Saver and a size US G hook

We were out of town at my sister's on Christmas Day and didn't get to see our niece open it. A phone call and her post about it to Facebook were all the evidence we needed to know that it was a huge hit and that I apparently still have the fangirl touch. :)

And speaking of being a fangirl, she inspired me to give Doctor Who a try last fall and I have totally succumbed. I've watched all of the "new" Who (2005 - present) via Netflix and Amazon streaming at least twice per episode and some of them I think I've seen four or five times. Such good handwork watching. And I don't have any indication yet that The X-files are getting jealous.

Yes, it's a sickness.

Oh my, I just might need a Doctor...


Thursday, February 09, 2012

Starting in again

Hello! I’ve missed you!

I’ve been knitting a crocheting a lot lately and I’ve been thinking about knitting and crocheting a lot lately. Like, why I select the projects I do, what I get out of the process as a whole, and how any of this is fulfilling to me. I’ve decided that, for me, there are basically four kinds of knitting/crochet and any given project falls into one or more of these categories.

  • Pure Process. For me, this means mindless knitting but YMMV. I want to move my hands in the comforting way of pulling one loop through another with the help of an implement. Almost, but now always, this happens for me in the form of dishcloths. K1 forever. Okay, a YO once a row and some K2togs on the way back down. Watch a movie (or Misfits or Downton Abbey, lately), pull some loops without really thinking about it, and I end up with some dishcloths. Don’t really need the dishcloths, but then I’ve got them and I can send some to a friend at a moment’s notice.

  • Utilitarian. I want thing. I can make thing. I do make thing. Maybe is an awesome experience and I have a blast *and* I get thing. Or, maybe does not get my creative juices flowing. Maybe is boring and tedious but not in a nice, mindless (see #1) way that comforts. Maybe is fiddly and difficult and not fun at all. But I want thing! Enough to put up with the crap. Oh thing, I hope I still love you when I am done.

  • Knitting Class. Other than my Grandma Black teaching me to chain and perform a single and double crochet when I was about 6, I am a completely self-taught handcrafter. Most everything I’ve learned about crochet and knitting is from working other people’s patterns and seeing how things were done. Usually this is a great deal of fun. Sometimes it becomes Utilitarian crafting. But, sometimes Utilitarian crafting becomes a Knitting class. It almost always works out in the end. The most important thing about Knitting Class crafting is that it often ends up leading to the next category…

  • Dripping With Creativity. Well, *dripping* may be a bit much. What I really wish for is that this was some sort of process that I just couldn’t help. As if I would just explode if I weren’t creating things from scratch and my own head and soul and my whole life was just about vomiting up some awesome. But it’s not like that. I’m sure it’s not like that, really, for *anyone* but there are some artsy types out there that make you believe that they’re actually that way. I’m really, really not. In fact, even when I do get creative and make things from scratch, I’m *very* systematic about it. And, usually I’m not doing it nearly so much because I will explode if I don’t, but because I had an idea and I want to be the one who does it and puts it out there. I don’t want to get scooped. I want it to be *me*. Me, me, ego, ego, blah blah blah. Sheesh, aren’t you bored of me yet, because I am.

I’m hoping to start talking about some of the projects I’ve been working on in terms of these categories. It will almost certainly be more interesting than straight-up show-and-tell and it just might start some conversations about why we do what we do as crafters. And maybe I’ll learn something about myself.

Oh self, I hope I still love you when I’m done.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Hold on please!

Sorry! Things are amiss. I'm working on it. Please be patient!