Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cleaning the Garage

Today was the day we had to get the garage cleaned.  It is getting colder and colder outside, and soon the snow will be flying.  We had left over garage sale items and other stuff that we have gathered.  Where does it all come from?  Who knows, but it is time to get it out of the garage so we can put our vehicles inside.

We headed to The St. Vincent de Paul store in Fond du lac, Wisconsin.

They were open until 3:30 today and it was noon already.   We quickly loaded up the car, and packed it with all kinds of junk and I mean JUNK.  It looked like a hoarders car.

When we got there, we pulled to the back of the building.  It was amazing.  The doors opened and out came three young men.  They started unloading and within minutes the car was empty.  I didn't realize how many things they would not take, but I understand why.  They took everything we had including a high chair which I saw on the list as we were leaving.  It was so easy and fast.

I have to admit, we drove around the building and went inside for just a moment.  I was very careful not to load up the car again.  In fact, we only bought a couple things.  We bought some stitch holders for knitting and 4 yards of netting to make more scrubbies.

Now the garage is clean except for 5 or 6 tons of wood pellets, and we are able to get the car and the truck inside before we get some snow.  It's a good feeling.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Making a Book of this Blog

After 24 hours of stress, I am back on track.  We decided to make my blog into a book.  It sounds easy enough to do, but I was wrong. is a website that helps people put together books.  You can choose all types of formats.  I became familiar with Blurb when my friend Diane sent me a book of the photos I posted on Facebook.  It was a wonderful gift, but I never realized how much work it was.

Blurb has a means by which you can upload your blog and place each page in book form.  When it is uploaded, the software chooses where and how the text and photos should be displayed.  Most of the time it doesn't work.  Either the whole photo is cropped so it is hard to even recognize what it is or it is too small.  The captions under the photos show up in the text of the story and not under the photo.  As a result every single page has to be custom arranged.  Some blog posts are long so they take up two or more pages.  If it is two pages, then they should face each other.  My husband, to help me out, worked on it for many many hours.  I just don't have the patience for some things.  He ended up with 194 pages, and it only got us through the end of May.  He is a perfectionist so when it was ready, I knew it was good.  I looked it over and didn't see any problems.  We had a 30% off code for first time customers, so yesterday afternoon I uploaded the book.  We were excited to have it finished.  I used the code and got the percentage off.  Although it was still pretty expensive, we felt it would be a family keepsake.  That is when everything hit the fan.  I did a preview, and I saw one spelling mistake after the other.  Something had happened with the upload.  I didn't preview or spell check after I sent it off figuring it was fine.  Immediately I got on the computer and emailed them that the book was full of spelling mistakes.  It substituted 'was' with 'us' and put extra letters in many places.  They sent me a response and told me they would cancel my order even though is was already being printed.  They would only do it one time and never again.  I was relieved and began editing it again.  I ran spell checker five times and went through it.  I uploaded it again, which takes a long time.  I purchased the book, but they wouldn't give me the discount because it wasn't my first book.  When it came through, I noticed a couple more mistakes, like Santa Claus was changed to Santa 'Clause'.  I don't even care, it's done and if I have to I will make corrections in the book when it comes.  Below is the link to the book.  It will take you to a page with prices and "preview".  If you click on preview and full page, you can see the book.

We may do the next six months at a later time.  Times heals all wounds, and we will be a lot smarter about everything.  Now to enjoy this beautiful Friday and put the last 24 hours behind us.

*Note:  The book was shipped sooner than they said, and I got an email stating that we would receive the 30% discount.  The customer service from Blurb has been wonderful.    They have been more than helpful. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Basic Pattern for Knitting a Christmas Stocking

It is that time of year to start some Christmas projects.  Almost every year I make Christmas stockings.  I have made a lot of them in my lifetime.  There are so many patterns and sizes of stockings available.  Just keep in mind that if the stockings are to be used, they need to be large enough to accommodate Santa's treats.  If it is knitted or crocheted there can't be a lot of loose loops inside because they will catch on items.  Otherwise just use your imagination.

Basic knitted Stocking I made for a sample.

This is a basic pattern that I created.  From this pattern you can put in any design as long as it fits.   It can be striped or solid.  I use graph paper and chart out what designs I want to use.  This chart is for the snowflake in the stocking above.  It is over 30 stitches and is repeated for 60 stitches and is 11 rows.

Basic Knitted Christmas Stocking Pattern.

Size 8 Circular Knitting Needle
I like the 12 inch circular but a 16 inch may work.  As long as the stitches fit without pulling.  It was made with a worsted weight yarn.  You can also use 4 double pointed needles-size 8.  This pattern doesn't have a seam.

Cast On 60 Stitches

Knit 1, Purl 1 in ribbing for 5 rows.

Then knit around for 9 rows ( placing a marker to mark the beginning of the round).  This is the area where you will place the name later.  It is the white area in the stocking above.

Next knit round and round for 70 rows (this stocking has 69 rows because that is how the pattern worked out) or desired length to the heel.  I like to mark off each row to keep track of the rows.  It is easy with stripes because you just count the stripes.

Here you can see the ribbing, the area for a name, the marker and the snowflake pattern.

Now it's time for the heel.  Using a double pointed needle, knit 30 stitches for the heel off the circular needle.  Leave the rest of the stitches on the circular to work later for the foot.  It works best if you purl back on those 30 stitches and then work back and forth on two double pointed needles doing the short row method.

This is the short row method, but there are other methods for turning heels.  Use the method you prefer.  This is a Christmas Stocking so the heel is for shaping instead of actually fitting a foot.

Slip the first stitch and knit to 1 before the end.
Turn, slip the first stitch, purl to 1 before the end.

Turn, slip the first stitch, knit to 2 before the end.
Turn, slip the first stitch, purl to 2 before the end.

Continue in this manner until you have 9 stitches on each side, ending with the purl row.

Now you have to put the stitches back.  Beginning with the knit row, slip the first stitch, knit to one stitch before the gap (you will be able to see the space),  slip the stitch before the gap, pick up the bar between the gap and put it on the right needle.  Knit the slipped stitch and the picked bar together.  You have closed the gap on the right side.

Turn and slip the first stitch, purl to one stitch before the gap, slip the stitch before the gap, pick up the bar between the gap and put on needle.  Purl the slipped stitch and the picked up bar together.  This closes the gap on the left side.

Continue until all 30 stitches are on the needle with no gaps.  

This is how the short row heel will look.

Begin knitting around on the circular needle again keeping in the pattern.  Knit about 4 inches for the foot (24 rows) and begin the toe. 

I changed to the white at this point so you could easily see.  Switch to double pointed needles and knit 15 stitches on the first needle, then knit 15, place marker, knit 15 on the next needle and knit 15 on the last needle.  

Row 1:
Now on first needle knit 1 and decrease on next two stitches by slipping next stitch, knitting a stitch and passing the slip stitch over knit stitch (psso),  knit to 3 stitches before the next marker on the second needle.  Knit 2 together, knit 1, slip marker, knit 1 and psso by slipping stitch, knitting stitch and passing the slip stitch over knit stitch.  Then knit to last 3 stitches on third needle and knit 2 together and knit 1. 

Row 2:  Knit all around without any decreases.

Repeat these two rows until 36 stitches remain.  Then decrease every row until 20 total stitches remain.  Next knit stitches on 1 needle and to marker on 2 needle.  With another needle knit what is left on 2 needle and all on 3rd needle.  There will be 10 stitches on each needle.

Toe completed and ready to close with the kitchener stitch.

The kitchener stitch is just 4 steps.  Cut a length of yarn from the piece you have been knitting with.

1.  Hold the two layers together with the purl sides facing each other (like the photo above).  Thread the yarn through a yarn needle and insert the needle through the first stitch in front needle as if to knit.  Pulling the yarn through the stitch, slip the stitch off the needle.

2.  Insert the yarn needle through the second stitch of the front needle as if to purl; draw yarn through but leave stitch on needle.

3.  Insert the yarn needle through the first stitch of back needle as if to purl; pull through the stitch and slip stitch off.

4.  Insert the yarn needle through second stitch of back needle as if to knit; draw yarn through but leave stitch on needle.

Short row heel and finished closed toe.

The last thing to do is weave in all the loose ends of yarn and duplicate stitch the name in the white area.  

I am not a professional pattern writer, so if anyone sees an error or has a question, please let me know.  

If you also want to make some mittens, try this.

I have shown these Christmas stockings before, but I wanted to show a few variations of the same basic pattern.  I wrote a blog recently using the same pattern.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pulled Pork and Beef Sandwiches

Pulled Pork and Beef Sandwiches

1 Beef Chuck Roast (3-4 pounds)
1 Pork Roast (3-4 pounds)

Put the two roasts in a slow cooker with a little liquid.  Cook for several hours (about 8 hours) until the meat is very tender.  Take out and with two forks, shred the meat.  Put it back into the slow cooker.  Then mix together,

1 1/2 cups of tomato juice or spicy hot V8 if you want it spicy
1 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground mustard
2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoons pepper

Put this mixture back on the meat in the cooker and mix.  At this point, you can heat it back up for a while to blend the flavors or refrigerate for use later.  It can also be frozen. 

Serve on Kaiser rolls or hard roll.  It also tastes good with a scoop of coleslaw on the meat in the bun.

Note:  I have an update on this recipe.  First of all I made the roasts in the Pressure Cooker.  I pressured the meat with two cups of water for 1 1/2 hours to get it very tender.  If your roasts are too big, you may have to do two batches.  Then when the meat was done, I put it into the kitchen aid mixer with the dough hook in small batches on low.  I did this to shred the meat instead of using the two fork method.  It worked beautifully and saved time.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Last Few Days of Fall in Wisconsin

Today they are having snow in northern Wisconsin.  They are usually a couple weeks ahead of us so I am certain that our fall days are numbered.  We had frost the last couple of nights but so far it hasn't been a killing frost.  We did start a fire in the fireplace today to take the chill off.  I went outside to see what I could see before it all turns to winter.

The first thing I saw was in our compost pile.  I went out with some wood ashes and this is what I saw. 

If you look closely there are two stalks of celery growing from the cut off ends of celery.

Then I picked up my potted geraniums to bring them inside for the winter.  Under one of them was this little salamander.  They like a moist and dark environment, so this was a perfect place for him.

Under the potted plant was this little salamander.  He scurried away when I picked up the pot. 

The next thing I noticed were these little toad stools all over the yard.  It was so dry this summer that I hadn't seen many, but with the recent rain these popped up.

Toad stools growing through the pine needles.

The flowers haven't been affected by the frost yet.  They are still pretty and blooming for now.

Toad lily still blooming but I'm sure all those buds will not have time to bloom.

Garden mum

Another mum which was knocked over but it isn't gone yet.

This bush was covered with beautiful red berries.  Quite a contrast in the landscape.

The woods are still full of color.

It won't be long and the leaves will fall off the trees, and the landscape will be barren.  Then it will be covered with snow.  That is why I live in Wisconsin.  There are four distinct seasons, each with it's own beauty.