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All zipped up

Sailing season approaches and our sailboat’s original cushions from the 1980′s were shot. My Husqvarna Viking 1951 sewing machine was purchased for the task.

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Sailrite showed me the way. It’s my new, favorite website. They have great, do it yourself, videos to recover cushions, pillows, upholstery, sail covers you name it. And they have lots of great tips. For instance, I cut my fabric with a hot knife to prevent the edges from fraying.

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By following the steps in one of their videos, I can install a zipper in minutes and it’s a good thing because I have installed over 40 feet of zippers!

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So I am 7 cushions into the project and have gotten the hang of it. The old fabric was so shot, I used the cushions to directly measure the fabric. Just like knitting, it’s all about ease. This varied as I went along, early ones may have a bit too much “negative ease” and are a bit squished. Several cushions are mounted on a board and I forgot wood doesn’t compress in my measurements; my first attempt has to be partially redone when I can bring myself to pull out another hundred staples!

I am eager to see how they look on the boat. I have three of the longest cushions left and two more on boards to finish. The captain has decided he wants buttons to pull in the cushions as the boat had before. Sailrite has forms to easily make coordinated buttons.

20140421-074020.jpg Sewing in three dimensions is different from quilting. It’s a wonder as these squared, boxed covers emerge from the sewing machine. Of course not one of my cushions were square boxes and not due to my sewing prowess. Every cushion was wonky. They are angled in the back to nestle against the boat’s curved sides. They are narrower towards the bow, wider at the stern. Now they are just a bit more interesting.

Even my knitting has zippers. I’m almost done with this baby sweater with a zipper up the back, I found on an archived web page. I never owned one when my kids were little but friends say they are the easiest way to dress a squirmy little one.

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Today is the first day since December my driveway is free of snow! No sign of the hundreds of daffodils I planted last Fall so I made my own flowers.

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I’ve gone off the deep end but promise never to make toilet paper roll covers with little dolls rising from them. Everyone had them in their house. Didn’t they? My roots show.

Ivy League Vest looks like a ship’s prow. I bought dowels to make my own wooly board but got away with my planter stand this time because there are no arms to contend with.

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Nice to know I have the same dimensions as a planter stand.

Home stretch

The Ivy League Vest is almost done. Only a few more thousand ends to weave in. It looks great and it is still in the 20′s in the morning so I wore it with the ends waving in the breeze yesterday. It’s fitted and won’t give much room for, ahem, expansion so I want to block it right. A see a woodworking project coming up, unless this planter stand is the right diameter to stretch the sweater.

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I found these instructions from Knitting Beyond the Hebrides to make a simple wooly board from dowels.

So here is a truncated picture, to exclude my jammie’s and waddle neck, of my finished vest.

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I used spare time yesterday to begin a tea cozy. I’ve become a tea totaler and always have a towel draped over the teapot. Then I found this adorable pattern and have plans for knit vases and flowers to cover all my kitchen appliances.

This off the shoulder sweater is complete. Not for me but will look wonderful on the recipient.

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I am rounding the home stretch with my hand spun fair isle vest, the Ivy League Vest designed by Eunny Jang. It is knit like a tube with placeholders where the arms and head will be. When the knitting is finished, you cut apart the placeholders and turn the tube into a vest. It’s a fabulous, fitted pattern with a lot of lessons learned along the way.

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Because I used all sorts of yarn, which could be slippery, I stabilized the knitting by crocheting stitches on either side of the planned cut before I snipped .

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Then I gingerly cut between the crocheted border and it worked! A mantra from my surgical days resurfaced. Don’t cut unless you can see the tips. Works on knitting as well as bodies.

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The pattern included waist shaping, happily I could use a few decreases, a deep “V” neck and fits like a glove, or a vest.

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Taco cups

We used to get hominy from our CSA. I tried, unsuccessfully, to make masa from it, which is the ground corn in tortillas. It was a process. Soak the corn in a lime solution for a day or so to soften it and loosen the hulls, which had to be rubbed off, then cook (? I think) and grind. I used a blender food processor and it never was fine enough. The best thing about it was I invested in a tortilla press. Now I just buy the masa, add a little salt and water and flatten the tortillas in the press.

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Tonight we had taco cups. I don’t remember where I first saw this idea, but I took the cooked tortillas and squished them into the bottom of a muffin tin between the cups. Not IN the cups, but underneath them. A 12 muffin pan held 6 tacos. Then I baked them at 375 until they were crisp.

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Next it was time to make our own tacos.

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They were a so colorful, they reminded me of summer. hard to do since we had another 4-6 inches of wet, heavy snow yesterday. I wrestled the snow blower to clear the driveway and ran into rocks and deep slush along the way.

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The down time indoors gave me the chance to make some headway on my fair isle vest. It’s knit in the round and when I’m finished I’ll steek (slash) the v-neck and two armholes. I love the colorwork.

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No generation gap

Tim got to experience the joy of being “Pops” the past few days when little Otis (and his parents and greyhounds) came to visit. They enjoyed a nap together.

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And just hung out.

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This little guy has all the latest gadgets but left his swing contraption at home. So they improvised with a rope tied to his car seat and our railing.

Spring things

It’s hard to believe it ‘s Spring in the Adirondacks. We have two feet of snow on the ground and the temperature was three degrees f today.

But the sun is stronger, the days are longer and I have heard a few new bird songs.

My gift to me is a fair isle vest, knit with three commercial yarns and three handspun skeins (one skein was dyed from all the onion skins we collected during our three month idyll at Deal Island Lighthouse, Tasmania).

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My cleaning and organizing obsessions continue. This time in the spice rack. Last fall, I hung several bunches of herbs and peppers to dry and it was time to put them to use. One big mistake I made was not labeling them in the fall when they looked like the actual plant and not dry , shriveled weeds. I could confirm sage but the rest were more subtle. One I made into a tea to sample and am calling it Lemon. Perhaps it was lemon balm or lemon basil but Lemon it is. I’ve called two unidentifiable bunches parsley. One may have been parsley and the other possibly cilantro. Who can tell?

Once the herbs were store in jars, They needed to be easier to find. I keep my spices in two baskets: one with sweet spices for baking; and the other with savory spices for cooking. I could never tell from the top what was in each of the jars. So I decided I needed to label the tops. I was able to use a permanent marker for the later tops and opted for nail polish for the black tops.

The nail polish did not work so well so I had to get creative with the names. Chili powder became “Hot”, Rosemary became the picture of a rose, garam masala is GAR M. I hope I remember my creative code.

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Snow is great and the private ski area right next door was open on Sunday so we threw our skis on our shoulders and walked next door to go skiing. Just pinch me. I had to relearn how to use a rope toe, a very fast rope toe. I brought old leather lined mittens for the task but they weren’t strong enough. I had to trade them in for a pair of industrial cowhide gloves which worked beautifully
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I’ve had a hankering to try to make donuts. We were sick a few weeks ago and my first food was a cinnamon sugar donut. And it was the best thing I ever tasted. But they are not always available and the nearest bakery is thirty minutes away.

I actually never fry anything. I even tried a ttp://www.lidiasitaly.com/recipes/detail/443″>eggplant parmigiana recipe from Lidia, “>recipe from Lidia’s Italy where the eggplant slices were cooked directly in the sauce (no breading, no frying) and it was good.

But alas, I had that hankering so I invested in shortening and oil. I found a recipe for buttermilk donuts at Cook’s Illustrated and away I went. I thought my little linzer tart cookie cutters would work but they were too small so I improvised with a drinking glass and a shot glass from the Royal Caribbean cruise line.

As with all my dishes, there’s a story behind that shot glass. When I took my first cruise with my kids, I forgot my contact lens case. So the first night I had at least two shooters and earned my containers for the rest of the trip.

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Next missing equipment was an oil thermometer so the first batch was scorched. But by the last batch I had it.

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Now I just have to figure out what to do with my leftover oil. Maybe I need an oil consuming car.

And back to the munchkins. The waste from every donut is the hole. For some reason, I never really thought about it. Bagels don’t have munchkins. If only I could figure out how to sell my trash! Or is that what eBay is for.

This is the second year I have visited my daughter in DC in late winter, early spring and it really provides a boost for the spirit. I saw crocuses just in bloom and heard a wider variety of birds than my brave little chickadees and bluejays. One day the temperature rose to the 60′s and the next it dropped to the 20′s with gale force winds, which howled all night. Air travel has become less fun, it gets more expensive and they take away more. I got bumped, waited standby and happily made my flight home before the airport closed due to 4-6 inches of snow in DC. Really?

We traveled to Berkeley Springs, WV State Park (possibly the smallest state park in the country, one acre or so) and took to the waters, a scalding Roman bath, and had relaxing massages. We barely made it out of there with the shirts on our backs. I’m no prude, but nude dining doesn’t appeal to me, and not only because I am a messy eater.

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I am in DC visiting my darling daughter. While she toils sway at her job I’ve been sightseeing and tackling minor plumbing repairs.

We had a gale Wednesday night (while there were near blizzard conditions at home) with the wind gusting to 50 mph, whistling clear through the house. The next day was sunny and cold and I headed to the National Zoo, which is only a short walk.

I was skeptical at first. I walked through several exhibits and the only thing I had to show for it was a lonely goldfish in a salamander pool.

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Many of the Asian animals were on holiday, like wild kingdom snowbirds. The elephants were nowhere to be seen. The gibbons were gone. The lemur island was vacant.

The red pandas were off doing hanky panky (the official term ) to breed. My main quest was the Giant Pandas and luckily they stuck around. I didn’t see the newest addition to the family but can observe her anytime via webcam. Well not anytime. I don ‘t see her in the picture tonight.

I saw one Panda outside and the other chowing down on bamboo inside.

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My day was complete.

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