Friday, February 26, 2010

There's a Chicken in the House

Dear Mom,
Meg isn't feeling well, so I invited her to come inside.  I asked her if she would wash windows and dust the furniture, but she said she was too weak and tired.

She is sleeping too much and not eating enough.  She's losing weight.  I think she has dreams of becoming a skinny, supermodel, calendar chicken. 

She's trying to talk me into polishing her toenails.  There's nothing like a pedicure to help a gal feel better!

The best I can do is give her warmth and comfort.  I hope my Meggie gets well soon...I just love this little chicken!

Love, Bonnie Jo

Set Back

Dear Mom,
Turns out I cannot re-invent the heel. #8 fit over my foot and was functional, but I wasn't happy with it. I ripped back during the women's free skate last night and started a new heel. Back to the vanilla sock heel recipe.

I think maybe another reason why this sock is taking so long is the fact it seems I can only sit and knit for about 10 minutes before a dog wants to go outside. Bumper is mastering the art of deceptive potty breaks so he can get a treat when he comes in. I believe that the dogs are now training me. I will be so happy when it gets warm enough to leave the porch door open so the dogs can come and go through the dog door as they please. At this point it feels like warm weather will NEVER get here. Muddy paws might even be welcome if it meant that Spring has finally arrived.

Busy weekend ahead. I should have lots to show you on Monday!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Not Sock #8

Dear Mom,
Maybe if I distract you with some cute puppy pictures you will not notice that sock #8 is not finished.

Sock #8 is coming along. I got this far on it last night.

Hello Yarn's fat sock, "Figgy"

Don't ask me why, but I am trying to reinvent the heel. Or "unvent" as Elizabeth Zimmermann would have said. I may be onto something really wonderful, or ripping back to the ribbing. And why I decided to try this when I am behind my self-imposed schedule I do not know. The idea was just in there and it had to get out.

Part of the reason I am behind schedule, besides the other knitting I was doing, is the fact that on Monday evening I did not knit ONE STITCH. This is the indication of a really bad day for Kim.
Monday, it turns out was not the regular Puppy Kindergarten class, but Puppy H..E..L..L.... In hind sight, I can now see that there where several moments when I should have packed up the treats, grabbed the Young Lady and rescued Patsy from our nightmare. Too much was happening so fast- like prong collars and Teacher grabbing Patsy by the collar and having her dangle in mid air (a 'correction' that would establish dominance) that I was having trouble processing it. Teacher, it turns out, was having a really bad day and QUIT. QUIT!!!!!She informed us of this about 2/3 of the way through the class, after she had labeled Patsy as aggressive, giving her a bad reputation with the other doggy parents, or should I say Pedigreed Puppy Parents, who then felt obligated to say things to me like, "Gosh, you've got your hands full with THAT one" and "She just wants to be pack leader, doesn't she?!" All said with sympathetic expressions, a gleam in the eye and a barely concealed smile.

Now. Go back and look at those pictures. That is not an aggressive puppy. In the experience I've had with puppies, I have to say that Patsy is the most well behaved.

Things didn't get any better as the class wore on. I realize now that the prong collar, recommended by Teacher, was making it impossible for Patsy to relax and focus. Stressed Out Teacher was telling me that I should make corrections unemotionally. This said as my dog flailed about, hanging by her neck in Teacher's hand.

A pro-rated refund is on its way. Patsy is enrolled in a new class. One that does not use prong collars or choke chains. Patsy is a pleaser. Positive reinforcement works. This will sound very silly, but I do believe that Patsy knows she is good and smart enough not to need that prong collar, and when we put it on her, she was insulted. Barking at the other dogs and wanting to play were better than doing anything the mean lady was trying to teach her! As soon as we reached the sanctuary of the car, we removed the prong collar and Patsy fell asleep in the Young Lady's arms. I have only needed to use her middle name ONCE this week, when she thought playing with Sock #8 might be fun. I can't blame her. It is. See? She is a smart girl!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Grammie's Red Velvet Cake

Dear Mom,
Our birthday came and went with a flurry of activity!  I was spoiled by friends and neighbors and family!
I baked my annual "Grammie's Red Velvet Cake" which Grammie called her "Waldorf Cake" (lovingly spelled on her recipe card to me "Waldrof Cake (RED Cake)").
This is my last picture of Grammie and Grampie, taken on Mother's Day in 2007.  Grammie died unexpectedly in September, 2007.  Everything Grammie baked was heaven.  I am lucky to have gotten so many of her recipes.

So, without further ado, Grammie's Red Velvet Cake:

Waldrof Cake (RED Cake)

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup crisco (not oil)
2 eggs
2 oz. red food coloring
2 Tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. soda
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream sugar and shortening.  Add eggs and beat.  Combine food coloring and cocoa and add to above mixture.  Alternate milk and flour to above mixture.  Mix well.  Last add soda to vinegar.  Add to cake mixture by just stirring in (do not beat).
Bake in 2 9" greased and floured pans or 1 13x9x2" pan at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes

Grammie didn't include a frosting recipe so I just whip up a cream cheese frosting.
This cake is absolutely divine when shared with friends and family; when you can eat your birthday cake amidst much love and laughter.  That is how Grammie did it her whole life.  I hope to follow in those footsteps.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Progress of sorts

Dear Mom,

Sock #8 is woefully behind schedule.
It has been started....see?

Progress on #8 was undermined by my desire to finish this:

here we have the ever-cooperative Elle modeling "Elbow Room"

Elbow Room will be published in a future issue of Creative Knitting magazine. September, I think. I love this design and decided that I would make one for myself.

I also have been stewing over a boy's sweater idea, and with a new baby boy due for one of My Hero's co-workers, I decided to make the sweater for him. I was a bit obsessed once I started it. I cast on for this one on Saturday morning and got this far before I went to bed last night:

I've been tweaking the design and instructions a bit as I knit, and I have submitted the idea- hopefully we will see this one published one day. If I can finish this one tonight after Puppy Kindergarten, then I can knit obsessively on #8 to make my self-imposed deadline.

And speaking of the puppy.... I do believe, but don't want to jinx myself by saying it out loud, but Patsy is housebroken. She is my little shadow during the day, following me around the house as I keep busy. She laid down beside the spinning wheel last weekend while I took Daphne Joy for a spin and did not even try to bite the bobbins or roving. I didn't tempt her with it for too long, but took her behavior as a good sign. She was caught, however, chewing on yarn last night, and I am occasionally finding stray skeins scattered through out the house.
Bumper, I am sorry to say, may be crying out for some therapy. In an episode reminiscent of the Christmas Cookie Massacre of 2007, when Bumper Joseph devoured 7 dozen cookies that were packaged and ready for a cookie exchange party, I came home from my quick trip to the library and post office this afternoon to find that Bumper had used his stiff, arthritic legs to lift his overweight body up high enough to grab the 1 pound bag of Pupperoni treats. The fact that the dog even got off the couch in the middle of the afternoon is a red flag. I found the Pupperoni bag torn apart and at least 2/3 of the pupperoni's missing. Bumper had excused himself to another room before I got home and was peaking around the corner awaiting my reaction. Surely he can't be jealous of Patsy's crate? I wouldn't have been so quick to notice the bag laying on the floor had Patsy not strayed from her usual and very direct route from crate to backdoor so she could visit the scene of the crime. Perhaps Bumper was purposely chewing pupperoni's in front of her, teasing her with his freedom.

Always an adventure.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

What I learned from sock #7

Dear Mom,
This is sock #7 of my sock a week in 2010 resolution.

I hate it.

I used this pattern. There is nothing wrong with the pattern. The instructions are perfectly clear and the designer must be a genius. I was immediately attracted to this sock's unusual construction. Really, it is brilliant, worked from the toe up on the bias with a swirly origami sort of heel. I had to try it.
As you can see, it turned out fine.... if you wear a size 9 shoe, which I do not. You cannot tell in the photo, but the sock is much too big even for the Young Lady (the reluctant model here) whose feet are bigger than mine.

I realized after slogging through this sock, that I do not like knitting fussy sock patterns. Sure I like the looks of pretty socks, but I realized while working on #7 that I just want to go into auto pilot while I knit a sock. A fun little something on the cuff is good, but let the rest of my sock be plain old vanilla sock knitting. A fancy sock is not going to be any warmer or function any differently than my plain old vanilla sock. I am content to let the sock yarn speak for itself.

I also had to talk myself off the edge that was looming whenever I thought about making the other half of sock #7. Number 7 is very specifically a Left foot. I was dreading Right foot #8. I was thinking hateful thoughts about right foot #8.  Well.  Remembering that there are no Knitting Police, I realized that I don't have to make that sock! I am moving forward and sock #8 will be the beginning of a new pair. The lack of symmetry there is a little disturbing, but I'll get over it as soon as I cast on. I would feel better, though, if I could find someone who wears a Women's size 9 and just needs a sock for her left foot. I'd be happy to send her this sock.


p.s. Another thought. Anyone out there interested in knitting a Right Foot, size 9? I'll gladly send the pattern, yarn and Left Foot #7 . Email me at the address on the sidebar.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February 17, 1967

Dear Mom,
On this special day, 43 years ago, you brought twins into our world!  In the months prior, Kim wished for a girl and I wanted a boy. 

 "Twice as much to love, two blessings from above." 

 "The Twins" were happy, healthy, rolly polly babies!

Now that I'm a mom, I can't imagine how you did it...Kim was in kindergarten, I was only 4, and then you had two new babies to care for.  Phew!!

"It's double the giggles and double the grins, and double the trouble if you're blessed with twins."

At 17 months, The Twins were already partners in crime.
**Brother has requested privacy and asked that no photos be published beyond this point**

Christmas 1970
3-year old Wendy was not afraid to talk to Santa!

Wendy at age 7 - Remember those loooong stocking caps?!

Christmas 1974 - Wendy with Holly Hobby and the Barbie Jet

Smiling with Zeke in 1977

1979 - Who wears short-shorts?!!  

High School

May 1989 - A beautiful bride, wearing her mother's wedding gown

"So much alike, forever linked, and yet they’re also quite distinct."

 Happy Birthday to "Our Twins" ! 

Love, Bonnie Jo


Dear Mom,
Once upon a time there were two well-behaved little girls. They played dolls together, watched Captain Kangaroo, Batman and The Beverly Hillbillies. Sometimes they did Jack LaLane exercises with their Mom. They played with their Penny Bright dolls and ran through the sprinkler in the summer. They had a huge goldfish named Herbie and others named Salt and Pepper and Cindy and Jinks. Life was good. Then one day, those nice little girls learned that two more babies were coming! How exciting!
Forty-three years ago those babies arrived. The Little Girls' Daddy took them in the car to show them the hospital where Mommy and the babies were. The oldest little girl strained her eyes, looking for Mommy, certain that she would be waving out the hospital window.
The younger of the two girls was not in school yet, and got to stay home and help Mommy with the babies. She was there when they came home from the hospital. A new brother and a new sister. Grandma came to help Mommy and they watched Love Is A Many Splendored Thing every afternoon.
Soon, the babies grew to be toddlers. Nothing could stop them. Together they were able to move furniture and flush the Little Girl's favorite doll dress down the toilet. The Little Girls tried to keep their room off limits, but it was hard. Especially with two toddlers working together and the Big Sisters at school.
The toddlers turned into children. Toys and clothes were handed down. GI Joe was introduced to Barbie. The Four Siblings played games called "Joe" and "Chin and Jane" and used their imaginations for hours.They lived in the Wonder Years when it was safe to play outside all day, nobody needed to schedule a play date and baseball games were something the neighborhood kids gathered together to play, with a rock for home plate and a particularly large dandelion for second. First base was the corner of  Tinker's dog house and third base was whatever was handy.
The Four Siblings were blessed to have parents who worked hard to provide them with such an enchanted life. And on this day, when the Two Little Girls became Four Siblings, I want to thank you for ALL of that.
We love you Mom.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Tooth Fairy and Oatmeal Cookies

Dear Mom,
We were visited by a fairy last night!!  My baby's first lost tooth . . . .

And we made cookies.  I am on a quest for the perfect Oatmeal Raisin Cookie.  I think I may have found it here!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day

Dear Mom,

Happy Valentine's Day

Holiday accessories are not something that Bumper Joseph will tolerate. Patsy likes her Valentines Day bow. I may have to knit her a sweater.

With the Boys in Detroit to see a Red Wings game, The Young Lady and I had grand plans for the weekend which included watching the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night. I envisioned myself finishing (or at least getting close to finishing) a sweater while we watched. We both fell asleep during the parade of nations. The last thing we both remember is Jamaica. We missed all the good stuff. I did better last night. Still didn't finish the sweater, but the short track speed skating kept me awake. I just love Apolo Ohno. And that smile is a Dental Hygienist's dream. The Young Lady lost her battle with Mr. Sandman a mere 20 minutes before the short track finals. All this Girls Weekend stuff just wore her out, I guess!

During the last winter Olympics, in 2006, I participated in the Knitting Olympics and knit this sweater.

It was cast on during opening ceremonies and finished before the torch was extinguished. I don't think it is coincidental that I had Carpal Tunnel surgery a year later. So, with that in mind, I, like all good athletes, know when it is time to retire from competition. I will continue to enjoy the sport, just not at an Olympic level.


p.s. I tried to get a better shot of Miss Patsy Cake, with her pretty bow. Here are my less than successful shots.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Dear Mom,
Wendy's pillowcases arrived! Actually, they are MY pillowcases. Wendy made them for me- a custom order, specially for the guest room. The colors are perfect and I am happy to toss the worn out shams and replace them with these.

They are exactly right. Thank you Wendy! .

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Number Six

Dear Mom,
This one practically knit itself.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow Day

Dear Mom,
Gloria and Golda were curious...

but they would NOT get their feet in the snow!

The cardinals are abundant,

and the woods are a winter wonderland.

(It looks like I'm not the only creature that has been on this trail!)

But ohhh...if we only had some blue sky...

Love, Bonnie Jo

Puppy Kindergarten

Dear Mom,
Armed with pockets full of puppy training treats, the Young Lady, Patsy and I attended the first of 5 puppy kindergarten classes last night.
It will be no surprise to you that your Granddogger was the smartest puppy in class. Patsy mastered the "Leave it" command after 3 tries. Mastered it so well, in fact, that she became quite bored with the exercise and laid down while Gordon, Roxie, Bella and Bentley, Sookie, Cocoa, Aster and Wilson practiced "leaving it" around her.
We were surrounded by an assortment of breeds- golden doodles, boxers, a Newfoundland, a Cavalier King Charles and an English Spaniel- all fuzzy soft and adorable, but it was Patsy, the ?? breed who stole the show and the admiration of those around her. She could have gotten by on the cute factor alone, and I worried at first that she would be the class flirt, or worse yet, the class clown,  teasing the dogs on either side of her, but when the time came to buckle down and get serious, Patsy made me proud.

No school today due to the winter storm. I won't be surprised if the kids stay home again tomorrow. Every day they miss will be made up at the end of the year, so this Snow Day was not met with the same enthusiasm as the last one. Yesterday's visit to the grocery has the pantry and fridge stocked, and I have plenty of fiber to knit and spin once my daily housework is behind me. Staying home has never been a struggle for me. And even though I am ready to be done with snow and ice and cold and grey, I really can't think of any place I would really rather be.

Stay warm!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Old Dogs and other stuff

Dear Mom,
It would seem that Pitsy Patsy SassyFrassy has been teaching the Old Dog a new trick. The former couch potato known as Bumper Joseph, who rarely left his position on the couch unless it was to move to a position on the chair where he could gaze out the window, has figured out that Patsy gets a treat when she is a "big girrllll, gooood dooggggy" outside. Bumper now asks to go outside several times each hour so he can be rewarded with a Snausage when he comes back in. The never thin Bumper may very soon look like a Snausage.

And remember that hyacinth bulb I bought at the end of last year? The one that was all full of sunshine and promise and spring days to come? The one that was going to get me through the dark gray days of winter?
Well here it is!
yep. Nothing. Six weeks of sitting in the windowsill, in a bulb vase. Teasing me and giving me nothin'.
I have 2 more bulbs chilling in a paper bag in the fridge, supposedly ready to see the light of day. I wonder if these will work. I am not holding out much hope. If I have anything pretty to show off, I will share it.

Patsy has her first Puppy Kindergarten class tonight. I am sure there will be plenty about that to tell you tomorrow.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Fifth Hen

Dear Mom,
This is what I call my "Fifth Hen".  It makes an appearance in the chicken run every winter.

The Fifth Hen is not just an upside-down clay flower pot and saucer--it is actually a warmer for the hens to cozy up to on cold days.  It is wired with a porcelain socket containing a 75-watt light bulb, and it plugs into an outlet in the coop. I got the "idea" from the February/March 2008 edition of Backyard Poultry.

The heat radiates warmth to the surrounding perch area. 

I often find Meg snuggled up to the Fifth Hen.  She does not have as much heavy feathering and fat as the big girls, and it has been a cold winter!!

I won't argue with the fact that the Fifth Hen probably does more for my conscience than the hens' comfort.  What can I say?  I just adore my girls!

(And I think my girls kinda like me, too!)

Love, Bonnie Jo