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November 2006
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January 2007

Lobster Stew

Yum. I had such a great lunch today.... leftover lobster stew from Christmas Eve. It was soooooooo good. There's something completely decadent about even just saying the words "leftover lobster stew", heh heh. I mean, really ... how often does that happen??? See, last year I decided to make lobster stew to have with our Christmas Eve dinner, and it was so good that we decided that it should become an annual tradition. I, personally, am quite pleased with that decision!

Lobster stew is one of those rare foods that is waaaaaay better and more flavorful a day or two after it is made, so it only gets better with age (like most of us!). And on top of that, it is so easy to make that even a yarnshop lady can do it! I made lobster stew on Saturday, a day ahead of time, so it could sit for a day to age.... then on Sunday, Christmas Eve, we ate it and it was super delicious. BUT!!!! Then I had some for lunch today.... and it was even better, and this is probably my last blog post forever, because since I plan on having it for lunch again tomorrow, I will undoubtedly DIE of happiness! Heh heh.

Since this stew is bringing me so much joy, I figured I would share my recipe with you in case any of you want to give it a go. Trust me, lobster stew is totally tasty on any occasion... or on no occasion at all! Warning, though: this stew is so full of Things That Are Bad For You (there are only four ingredients and I am sure they are on pretty much on every doctor's Make A Scowly Face list) ... but geez... if you only make it once a year, can it really kill you???? Umm, don't answer that....

Okay, first of all you have to decide how much you love yourself. You need two pounds of lobster meat -- that's shelled, and cut up in bite-sized pieces. Now there are several ways to do this. None of them are really cost effective, by the way. Well.... one is: you can marry a lobsterman (or lobsterwoman) and beg for a few lobsters for stew. This way of getting lobster is cheaper, but has the long-term marriage effect. And there may be children. Fair warning. :D

Another way you can get lobster meat is to remember to go to French and Brawn Market in Camden (or your local fish market) and order 2 pounds of lobster meat. You will probably have to order it ahead of time because not too many places tend to have cooked & picked lobster meat just sitting there ready for purchase... it is enough work that it usually is done to order, and this means it is also very fresh. Prepare yourself, because purchasing lobster meat is expensive. It cost me $40 per pound for lobster meat this year, although if I remember right, it actually cost a little more last year. Yes, it's expensive (we had this conversation about cashmere, remember?), but as I was waiting at the fish & meat counter to pick it up on Saturday, I was talking with a friend waiting to pick up the meat she was roasting ... a hundred buck's worth.... so I figured $80 wasn't that far off from what others were having. You can save a little by ordering about 6 or 8 live lobsters, cooking them yourself and then spending a couple hours picking all the meat out of them. That will save you about $20, which you will then have to spend on extra booze or chocolate that you will need, to reward yourself for spending the afternoon up to your elbows in cooked lobster innards. To me, it's worth it in time and effort and mess to pay extra so that I can just pick up the lobster meat all cooked and packed in a nice little container... no mess!

First, go to the bathroom (you will thank me later), and then put your iPod and earphones near the stove and make sure the device is charged. This is very important. So... you have your two pounds of lobster, by hook or by crook. First you cut it into bite-sized pieces, and possibly taste several pieces as you go because, you know, you really should check to make sure it tastes good. It's a service you must perform as cook. Once the lobster is all cut up, take one whole stick (1/4 pound) of REAL butter (NOT margarine, NOT any form of butter-like substance, not any kind of oil. Real butter!!) and melt said stick of butter in the bottom of your stew pot over medium heat. Put all the lobster that you haven't eaten tested into the pot with the butter. Marvel at the sublime pairing that fresh Maine lobster and real, melted butter make.... and then cook and stir the lobster in the butter for five or ten minutes or until it looks hot and buttery, and there is an orange liquid coating the bottom of the pan. You may possibly test a few more pieces of lobster again at this point, if you feel it needs it. This is the last time you will taste your stew until it has sat for a day, or five hours at least.

Then, over low heat, slowly pour in, a little at a time, a quart of half and half, stirring constantly. Once you have added all the half and half, add a quart or quart and a half (measuring is not particularly important here... add enough milk so you have enough volume of stew to feed the number of people who will be there to eat it) of whole milk and continue to stir over low heat until the stew is steaming. This will take a while and you will get tired of doing it. You will be tempted to turn the heat up and/or go sit in a chair very close to the stove and knit just a couple of rounds on that sock. DO NOT DO IT! Before you know it, a scum of scorched dairy product will form on the bottom of your good stew pot and $80 worth of lobster will acquire a rather unfortunate flavor. Tough it out, keep stirring, and don't turn up the heat. Trust me, it will be worth it. You went to the bathroom before you started, right? Like I told you to? And now you can put your earphones in your ears and turn on your iPod and listen to a couple CDs or fabulous knitting podcasts or several chapters of audiobooks, stirring merrily away, and reveling in how smart you were to give yourself this alone time to relax, stir, listen to good sounds, and maybe have a glass of wine if you thought to put it out before you started (No... you do not have time to go get the wine now, if it isn't in your glass already. Trust me.)

When the lobster stew is all steamy and your wine is gone and a lovely orange coating of melted butter is swirling on the top of the stew, it's time to stop. Do not eat the lobster stew now! Do not even taste it! Let it cool a bit and put it in the refrigerator and forget all about it until you are ready to heat it to eat later... wait at least five hours.... overnight is better!!!!! Then heat it slowly back to steaming goodness and serve. (I also have microwaved it, if I forgot to take it out of the fridge in time to heat it again over low heat, and it was fine.)

Accept shouts of praise and adulation. Smile modestly. Slurp up as much lobster stew as you can before anyone notices how much you're really getting....

Happy Holidays!

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A Little Gift for the Kitties

Need a little gift for a special kitty in your life? Here is my little Christmas gift to all of you... a pattern for a small catnip mouse that you can knit for that feline someone whom you love! It only takes about 20 minutes to knit one, so you have plenty of time to knit one for your kitty by Christmas!

I (of course) do not have a picture of this catnip delight, but I will add a picture when I get it. For the moment, imagine a rather fat Brown 'N Serve sausage, pointed on one end (for the nose), with a tail and two loops of yarn for ears. :D



CATNIP MOUSE CAT TOY

Yarn: Lush (50% wool/50% angora) by Classic Elite. I think one skein will make around 10 to 12 mice, maybe more. You could use any worsted weight yarn, but cats like angora blends.

Needles: size 4 double pointed needles.

Cast on 21 sts, leaving a long tail to sew up with later (and also it makes the mouse’s tail, too). Join into a circle and knit 16 rounds.

Begin decreases for head:

Next round: knit 2, knit 2 together through the back loops, knit to last 4 sts in the round, knit 2 together, knit 2.

Repeat this decrease round until there are 7 sts left. Next round: knit 2 together three times, knit one. Cut yarn, leaving a long tail which you then thread onto a darning needle and pull through the remaining 4 sts. Pull them up tight, and then pull this yarn to the inside, to make little loops for ears at the beginning of the decrease rounds, tacking each loop in place. (You can just secure this on the inside and leave the ears off if you don’t want to bother with the ears. My cat likes to pull at the ears with her teeth. It gives her something to do.)

Thread the cast-on tail onto a darning needle and run it in and out around the cast on edge, making a mini drawstring bag sort of thing. Fill the mouse with catnip or, if you prefer, fiberfill stuffing (some cats are on a no-catnip diet, having abused the substance at some point in life, no doubt.) Pull on the cast-on tail, closing the drawstring tight; tack in place several times to secure the opening, making it as tightly closed as possible and leaving the tail outside. Tie a little knot about half an inch from the end of the tail so you’ll have something to hold onto as you dangle the little critter in front of the cat. Or you may want to just throw it on the floor and stand back.


Santa Kidnapped by Martians

Here is possibly the silliest Christmas show ever made:
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!
(it is available to download from the web site linked to above.)

From the web site:
"Martians, upset that their children have become obsessed with TV shows from Earth which extoll the virtues of Santa Claus, start an expedition to Earth to kidnap the one and only Santa. While on Earth, they kidnap two lively children that lead the group of Martians to the North Pole and Santa. The Martians then take Santa and the two children back to Mars with them. Voldar, a particularly grumpy Martian, attempts to do away with the children and Santa before they get to Mars, but their leader Lomas stops him. When they arrive on Mars, Santa, with the help of the two Earth children and a rather simple-minded Martian lackey, overcomes the Martians by bringing fun, happiness and Christmas cheer to the children of Mars."

Santaclausconquersthemartiansgrab


Holiday Re-runs :)

About a year ago I posted about a cute little Christmas animation I found on the internet.... I wanted to find another cute Christmas animation to share with you this year, but no luck.... so I am re-running this post from last year. "Ornaments" is just as cute this year as it was last year! Maybe you missed it last year or maybe you don't remember it... Enjoy!


There's a great little Christmas animation out there -- it's called "Ornaments" and it features a very cute Santa Claus ornament who really wants to get from the Christmas tree where he is hanging, to the coffee table where cookies have been put out for Santa. It's action-packed, fun, suspenseful and clever, and a wonderful amusement for children and adults alike. I love it. I highly recommend you download it, watch it, and share it with your friends. Here's the link:

Ornaments Movie -- Click Here

Santapose1


More Old Clothes

Continuing on in the vein of ancient textiles.... I found this fabulous link to an article about ancient textiles and some of the archaeological evidence of them discovered in the past few years. Click here to link.

I don't know what it is about textile history that's been really grabbing my attention lately, but I have always found it fascinating. One of my favorite reads from the last couple of years is Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years : Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. If you haven't already read it, put it on your Christmas list! Here's a link to it via Amazon.

I guess it just astounds me when I think of the trillions and trillions of yards of thread and yarn that have been produced by women over the years -- industrialization only hit in the last 250 years or so, and for that matter, the spinning wheel has only been around for what? 500 years? I mean think of it, every square inch of cloth that every person wore before that was created by hand using some form of hand spindle, for heaven's sake, and a loom, or some form of netting or knitting or crochet. Think of the yards and yards and yards of cloth... all that work.... all that time! Almost all done by women, of course. The hugeness of it boggles my mind... like when a person sees the ocean for the first time and tries to fully grasp the size of it. Maps can't make you feel the size and power of the ocean ... only seeing it and being on it can do that. I think archaeology is like that for history. You can't fully grasp the amount of work and time and effort that women have put in for ages until you start seeing their tools, like those ancient Egyptian tools I posted about earlier, or the cloth found in tombs, as in the Siberian tomb discovery written about in the above article. It makes me start thinking in terms of what I do, making sweaters to sell, using only hand-operated knitting looms, as part of a thousands-year-long tradition.... except I didn't have to spin the dang yarn myself first! Honestly, I can't imagine.

Which is not to decry the efforts of men over the years, by the way. It's not like women were working their butts off while the men lazed around.... although, don't let them know we know that. It's much more fun making them feel guilty. :D


Ancient Egyptian Spinning and Weaving

I had to share this site I discovered that showcases ancient Egyptian fiber stuff... spinning, weaving and clothing production. I am going to spend hours and hours reading through it one of these days, when I have time (soon, I hope). It has some fascinating stuff!!

(Click here to see Egyptian spindles, loom artifacts and needles.)

The whole site is interesting and worth exploring. I also found this page about Egyptian cloth and clothing to be one I want to read more carefully, too.

Enjoy!


Egypttools


Hungry?

You may have been told, when young, not to play with your food. Now, where's the fun in that??? Here are a couple of fun food links... food is fun!

  • Click here to see a list of 14 Odd Deep-Fried Foods! There are both savory choices, like deep-fried macaroni & cheese and deep-fried pickles and (major yuck) deep-fried cicadas..... and sweet choices, like deep-fried Coca-Cola (note to Tracy TTB: I bet you could do it with Dr. Pepper, too), and deep-fried cheesecake. Yum yum!

  • Once you have recovered from the above, you can learn How to Calculate Pi by Throwing Frozen Hot Dogs! Hmmm... this is not only fun, but also useful. You can also substitute any long, thin, straight food like celery sticks, if you are on a diet! Or use knitting needles if you are fasting! Fun, fun, fun!!!

Hotdogpi

Yarndemon, bringing you sometimes useful information nearly daily (stop laughing) since 2004!


See the Wall

I got an interesting email today from a young man who is trying to start an unusual art project inspired by the Million Dollar Homepage. Here's a quote:


I'm a 23 year old grad student at NYU. Recently, my friends and I came
up with a novel idea -- part art project, part internet madness. It's
called THE WALL. You can check it out at www.seethewall.com .

At first I thought it was just another spam email -- my post on the MDH attracts a lot of spam in the comments -- which, by the way, I kindly weed out for you :) -- but this email was too sincere-sounding. Like maybe, someone had really written it as a note to *me*. Hmm.

So I went to the site, and clicked on "What in the World is the Wall?" with strains of Pink Floyd floating through my mind as the page loaded. Needless to say, the concept is intriguing. In this project, a large work of art will be built and put on display in NYC; the intriguing part is that YOU get to make the art that the big work of art is created from. In a way it reminded me of The Sheep Market, that sheep thing from a while back, where people drew little pictures of sheep and then they all were put together on one web page.... remember that? I liked that idea, too. ;)

The Wall is both a web page and a physical work of art. Basically, people get blocks and put artwork on them. These show up on the web site page only, at first....later, a large wall of displays will be built and the wall with its artwork will start to grow. People who view the artwork and the webpage will be able to click to the art-creator's webpage. You could use it for advertising... or you could just share your favorite poetry... or, the masterpieces you've been knittng! Or sketches of what you have been designing! Or charts for fair isle knitting! For the moment, as the project is only in stage one, the blocks are, apparently, free. (But not for long, I suspect; get your butt over there and grab a block right now, if you want to be part of this thing and don't want to have to pay for the chance!) In the second stage, blocks will cost $10. Once enough money has been raised, stage three will have been achieved and at that point blocks will cost $20. Let me just say, that's a pretty good deal, if you use it for any kind of advertising; my pixels on the MDH cost $100. The Pixelotto pixels cost twice that! Even at $20, it's a good deal for advertising your business or your artwork... IF and I must repeat IF the site really takes off and gets any amount of media attention. :)

But hey, I'm talking about it here, right now. And if 10 other bloggers also talk about it, and each of them has 10 readers who mention it on their blogs, and so on and so on... you know the drill.

Here's a bit from the See the Wall website about "Why Should I Buy a Block on the Wall?":

Here's what you are getting as far as I can see:
  • Being a part of something totally new and exciting.
  • The more people see the wall, the more people will catch a glimpse of YOUR stuff.
  • If they're online , they can click a link and go see your website. Then they're your audience.
What can you really put on the wall? Anything you like. Hopefully something eye-catching and interesting. As long as it's not profane -- this is a work of art which I will be showing in New York City, so I have to keep things clean!

Also... $1 from every block sold will be donated to charity, and you even get to participate in deciding what charity to support.. there is a poll to see what charity should get the money.

This is an interesting project... I will be watching it to see how Greg does with it. I like the idea of many people contributing to make a larger whole.


YouTube Adventures in Knitting

Deborah sent me a link to a great video on YouTube, called "Real Men Knit"; it's great!

Then I started looking around on YouTube. For knitting videos, of course!!! Geez. So one thing I found is that there are TONS of knitting how-to videos available free for the asking. If you want to see how some knitting thing is done, try searching for it on YouTube... chances are you can watch someone demonstrate the technique you need.

In addition, however, there are some pretty funny and/or entertaining videos there as well:


I Is A Pop'lar Girl

Man... I just looked at my statistics for my blog. When I first started blogging, I looked at my stats a lot. Hourly, even, heh heh. But I havent looked at them for months lately.

But geez... I looked just now. Guess how many page views my blog has had in the last 7 days? I made my husband guess... he guessed 100. But no....

2765!!! Wow!! I don't know if that's a lot in the bloggy world, but I'm pretty impressed. Thank you!!! to everyone who looked at my blog this week! Especially considering I have only made 2 posts in the last 7 days, and no posts at all in the last couple of weeks! That's 16.45833333333 page views per hour!

Wooooot!!


Thanks everyone. :D The pressure's on now.... knowing that so many people are looking at my blog... I guess I had better write more!


The Next Big Thing

A little more than a year ago, I heard about an ambitious young man named Alex Tew who, in an effort to try to earn some money so he could go to university, had come up with the delightfully simple yet highly effective idea for The Million Dollar Homepage. Basically, he sold pixels for a dollar apiece to advertisers. I heard about it when he only had a dozen or so ads signed up... what got me was not only that he wanted to make enough money to go to college... or that he wanted, if successful at all, to send his hard-working parents on a nice vacation... no. What got me, what made me say "Awwwwww..... " was that if he really, really was successfull, the thing he wanted to buy for himself was nice socks. Socks, I tell you!!! The boy was obviously a genius, so I went ahead and bought the minimum 100-pixel space. Kudos to you if you can find it on the page. :) (Hint... there's a yellow banner that says "Cheap CDs"... under it is a picture of a monkey...my little yarn-ball picture is next to the monkey. If you hover your mouse over it, you'll read "Unique One Sweaters & Yarn, Camden, Maine). So then it really took off... the Million Dollar Homepage did indeed make Alex a million dollars, he went to university, I am sure his parents had a nice vacation, and he got lots of nice socks. And I got a ton of traffic to my website. :)

So yesterday Alex sends me an email outlining his next big venture ... this one is similar to the Million Dollar Homepage, but a little different. Advertisers will still buy pixels for ads, but this time people who visit the site and click on ads have a chance to win a million dollars! Yes! And not only that -- $100,000 will go to a charity chosen by the jackpot winner! It's Pixelotto, and it goes live on December 5. Because I was an early adopter last time, I got the chance to have my ad prominently placed on the page on the actual launch date. :D I doubled the size of my yarn ball and placed it at the center-ish top of the page. Now I will sit back and hopefully watch the web page hits roll in... and pray that some of them result in sweater orders, heh heh. Man, that would be soooo great.... Anyway, if Alex's Pixelotto gets anywhere near the attention the Million Dollar Homepage got, the Pixelotto page will be displayed in TV news broadcasts and business shows all over the world. Hopefully some of that video will capture my yarn ball. Last time, with the MDH, I saw my yarn ball ad on the Cavuto Business Report! It was very cool. If nothing else, I will have helped a bright, intriguing young man to make his fortune, and I will have gotten some pretty cheap internet advertising. Life is good. Now if only MY ad gets chosen as the one that awards the million dollars to the lucky ad-clicker... think of the national media attention Unique One would get.... :::fanning face:::: heh heh. It's fun to dream. :D

Watch for news of Pixelotto on December 5!! And click my ad -- you might win a million dollars!


[EDIT] Well... it's now the morning of December 6 and Pixelotto went live yesterday.... page views on www.uniqueone.com quadrupled. That's good :)