Friday, March 30, 2007


The only thing better than flan

...is free flan.

I've returned from San Diego, or Sandy Eggo, as Kiki called it--now I'll never think of that town again without thinking of waffles, thanks, Kiki--and the gorgeous confection you're looking at, was my complimentary dessert for being a first-time visitor at a restaurant in Balboa Park (called "Prado").

No FO's to display, just WIPs, which I should have up next post, and next post may take a while. At work it's our annual Huge Pain in the Butt World-Famous Cruise Line Brochure and Fare Guide, translated into six languages, and every time that job comes around, the client wants it yesterday. I was at the office until 7 pm last night, and need to put in another 4 hours this weekend (FEH) to get things where they should be. However, since it wasn't MY idea to have a 3-hour staff meeting yesterday, perhaps my employer can just...bite me! Now there's an idea!

I am generally indifferent toward so-called "celebrities," but there is one I absolutely despise, so this made me feel much better:

Monday, March 26, 2007


Pardon my dust


My sweet friend Nikki is helping me figure out what went wrong with my formatting, but in the meantime, I switched to a new template just 'cuz the the look of my blog was driving me batsheet crazy.

Chickenlips is off to sunny San Diego for the next three days. It's a long story how I got free airfare and managed to wangle the time off when our three-person department is already down to two, but I'll save it for a day when I feel like boring the stuffin' out of ya. Besides, I've got knitting, and new yarn! (ooo!)

I made another Daisy, this time out of Cascade Sierra, for a bodaciously cute boy who was born in January. The cap is from miles of leftover Wildflower DK--the yarn splits like mad crazy, so it isn't my favorite, but a great color when paired with the cardi and little yellow star buttons. The ensemble is still drying. I tried a new wool wash called "Soak" (sample packages of it are in the next pic) which leaves behind a subtle, yet lovely, fragrance. It comes in 3 scents: citrus, aquae, and floral. I tried the Aquae. I love Eucalan to death, but it does leave behind the smell of wet dog, and since it's raining, I've got two of those already!

Next up:

I've been a bad Chickenlips, but would ya have me any other way? I wish there was such a thing as a professional yarn shopper, because I'd make a great one. Some Baby Cashmerino for a jacket, because another lil' nipper is due in July, and a LYS had Louisa Harding "Fauve" (nylon ribbon) on sale. I thought the color was to die for. This completes my yarn shopping for this summer's tank top collection.

I'll Have That Vacation With A Side Of Guilt, Please

It's spring break chez Chickenlips, which means teenagers (Michelle's friends) are constantly underfoot. Emptying the fridge, vegging out in front of cable TV, and just generally being in-the-way little lumps is de rigueur; however, the line was crossed when the Internet junkie among the crowd (doubly irritating when the only Internet connection in the house is in my bedroom) started downloading material. Now, you'd think a 16-year-old boy would be downloading smut, right? Not this kid. College fight songs. Go figure. Ehh, it really doesn't matter what it is--it's the idea that some kid is in my room using the computer without my permission, and by this evening, I'd had enough. Just. Had. Enough. I threw the lot of them out, rather unceremoniously. And promptly felt like a rotten mother.

For about five minutes.

One more knitting shot:

Since I'm in knitting-for-babies mode, I had to make a blankie. It's also my first kit: 4 hanks of Blue Sky Cotton Hand Dyes, and an eyelet and ruffle pattern. It's really soft, cuddly stuff, and I'll be bringing it with me down to San Diego to stitch on.

Happy Spring Break, everybody!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


My first meme

My good friend Christine aka Flutter tagged me for my first meme, and here it is:

list seven songs you are into right now. No matter what they are. They must be songs you are presently enjoying. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to.

Wow. Seven songs I'm currently enjoying. I get to show the blogosphere my bizarre taste in music! OK, here is my Liszt, I mean list. (whaddya want for nothing?)

1. "Far Cry", Rush.
It's brand new. It's the power trio from Canada. And it rocks!
"one day I feel I'm on top of the world/and the next it's falling in on me." How perfect is that? Yes, I am a geek, a nerd, a math rocker, whatever you wanna call it--but Rush's music has been the soundtrack of my life since 1986, when I met J. and he listened to them constantly. I was really into J., so it was adapt or die, so to speak. And life as a Rush fan has been good to me.

2. "The Mummer's Dance," Loreena McKennitt.
This is one of those songs I never get tired of listening to. Haunting melody, beautiful voice, enchanting arrangement, it's got everything.

3. "What You Leave Behind," Delp/Goudreau.
This song file was on Barry Goudreau's website as a tribute to Brad Delp, whose recent suicide shook me up and devastated many people. Brad's voice is clear and beautiful as ever.
"And some call on inner vision/Some call on the divine/No matter what the inspiration/There's always something on the line/So don't squander what you're given/Make the most of precious time/Life's not only for the living/It's what you leave behind."

4. "Beware of Darkness," George Harrison.
The longer Beatle George is gone, the more I miss him. This song is a long-forgotten gem from his first solo work, "All Things Must Pass," and I can't get enough of it.

5. "Live to Win," Paul Stanley.
My daughter has a tremendous crush on KISS's Star Child, and I really like the title track from the album he released last fall. It's along the lines of "Eye of the Tiger", from the 1980s one-hit wonder Survivor. South Park also used this song for one of their hilarious montages in a recent episode. At Paul's concert, he took time while onstage to read a love poem my daughter had written for him, and my friends, that's what I call class.

6. "Cut Your Hair," Pavement.
I often look to music to lift my mood, and the happy sound of this song does it well.

7. "Better Not Look Down," B.B. King.
B.B. narrates the verses and sings only on the chorus, and Lucille is soundin' fine as ever. Featured on the soundtrack of "Thelma and Louise."
"Better not look down if you wanna keep on flyin/Put the hammer down and keep it full speed ahead/Better not look back or you might just wind up cryin'/You can keep it movin' if you don't look down."

Now to tag seven folks. Let's see. I don't think I have seven blogging buddies! But I'll tag the ones I do have: Kiki and Nikki. Ladies, if you're reading this, you have been tagged.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Pimp my ride?

Finally, a new vehicle for the Spence family. I haven't yet photographed the actual one, but it is a 2007 Kia Rondo, and you can see a photo here. Now, "crossovers" aren't just country music hits that become hits on the pop charts, they're also 4-door sedans that are minivan wannabes! Aw, shoot, it just feels good to drive something that isn't one big Starbucks stain, that has four intact drink holders instead of two broken ones, and perhaps most important, has that "new car smell."

It had been several years since J and I went through the car-buying process. We were reassured that that process has remained essentially the same; namely, it takes almost a whole frickin' day. As we set out for the local Kia dealer last Saturday afternoon, we were "just going to look," and of course the moment we drove onto the lot, we knew we were a couple of mackerel to the half-dozen salespeople who saw us. No matter. We wouldn't have gone at all if we hadn't sorely needed something dependable...our 1997 Chevy has +150K miles and is rapidly becoming a black hole of repairs. J. was about to walk away when they informed us it was worth nothing as a trade-in. (Drama queen.) I had to be the voice of reason, reminding him that our 16-year-old, whenever she decides to get her butt in gear and learn to drive, would need a car. To boil this dreary tale down to its essence, there are now three cars in our fleet, two of which are paid for.

A Little Spring

Two nice things: I seem to have conquered that nagging skin disorder which plagued me for months, and there are buds on the lilac bushes outside the bedroom window. Next week I'll be in San Diego--I'll miss seeing the Portland appearance of the Mason-Dixon gals, but when I expressed that lament on the MDK blog, sweet Ann Shayne emailed, reassuring me they'd be back at some point. Also, this week I got up the gumption to email Stephanie, the Yarn Harlot herself, a picture of a baby sweater that is her pattern on Knitty, called "Daisy":

Stephanie wrote back the very same day complimenting me on it. Thus reinforcing my long-held belief that knitters are the cat's pajamas.

Insomniacs Knit!
Here I am again, after midnight and still in the trenches. I've been holding a slew of gorgeous Rowan Tapestry yarn (wool/silk) in my stash for months, and what am I doing with it but a tried-and-true lace shawl, a four-row repeat that I can tote around without having to bring the pattern.

The Orenburg lace shawl is in project limbo, waiting for that shining day when I have no pressing responsibilities, and am able to sit for hours and devote all my time, attention, and concentration to it. In other words, when I get around to taking that trip to Fantasyland, because now we have a (cue scary music) Car Payment!!

Saturday, March 17, 2007


I think I broke my blog

I'm awful sorry for the hideous appearance of my blog! Tonight I'll spend some time trying to mend it. I'm not sure just how it got to be so nuked; it's probably the combination of Chickenlips and HTML (always a bad combo).

Let me also take this opportunity to be a leprechaun, and wish all of you a very happy St. Patrick's Day!

Moving right along, here's some knitting.

Plain Jane Socks

My current favorite sock pattern, "wide-wale" from Ann Norling, and Silky Wool. Makes a cuddly, fairly thick sock, and I'll probably end up keeping the pair.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


News from Boston gets worse

In my last post, I was remembering Brad Delp of Boston, and today it was announced that his death was in fact a suicide. He sealed off a bathroom in his house, lit two charcoal grills, and died of carbon monoxide poisoning. He had left notes for his fiancee and his family. The family statement, delivered by the local police, said in part "he was a man who gave everything he had to his family, friends and fans, and he was very tired."

I imagine he was. Now, it's more than thirty years since I last saw Brad, and can't even begin to imagine what his life was like once he became a "rock star"--I put that in quotes because yes, he was famous, but by all accounts unchanged by the fame. However, that's not to say he was unaffected by it. He must have been depressed beyond what anyone could know, and to mask a despondency so great as to cause him to end his life, must have taken a tremendous emotional toll.

Brad's bandmate in the group Boston, Barry Goudreau, has a really nice tribute to Brad on his website and said he'd make every effort to respond to all messages of condolence. I emailed him tonight, not that I require an answer, just to let him knew I had once been a co-worker of Brad's.

Sorry everybody, to be a sad Chickenlips tonight--I'm gonna be struggling with this for a while. I don't even have any pretty knitting pictures to share with you--but I can tell you what I'm stitching on: a pair of ribbed socks in a natural shade of Silky Wool. It's soft and a bit on the nubbly side. I'm thinking they'll make good hiking socks for summer. (I'll have to get on the schtick and get some good hikin' boots.) I have been doing some musing about sock knitting lately:

Obligatory Sock Knitting Discourse

I love looking at sock patterns, but I tend to make my socks in a plain stitch, usually some ribbing, either 2x2 for 10 rounds or wide-rib from the cuff to the heel and down the instep. There are some fabulous sock designers out there--Cookie A. is particularly brilliant--but I myself can't see putting in all that effort, because who is gonna really be looking at your socks?

Or maybe I'm a lazy knitta at heart. All I know is, I was pretty freaked out by today's news, and stitching on my plain pattern, plain color socks felt powerfully soothing.


I must thank butterflylane for her tips on how to get rid of the generic banner (hope you're feeling better, darlin!) It worked, but maybe I deleted too much of the HTML, because I lost my formatting!

I appeal to any and all HTML gurus who may be reading this, to tell me what the heck I should do now. (Apart from have something chocolate, that is.)

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Looky looky!

My very own banner, designed by the fabulous Flutter. Thank you, Flutter, I absolutely love it. Isn't it cute? And it is so, well, me! I'd love to be able to s-t-r-e-t-c-h it and replace that boring old generic title banner, but after 90 minutes of poring over Blogger Help, googling for tips, and general head-scratching, I'm still stumped. I consider it no small feat that I even figured out how to upload it so it appears above my posts. Any tips & hints you could offer this carbon-dated fossil, er, make that "HTML-challenged knit blogger," would be most welcome.

Increased Hormone Levels

And acute grandma symptoms. Must be. How else can I explain my urge to knit an entire baby wardrobe? I got to hold my boss's new daughter yesterday. The sweetness of baby Lucia at two weeks old is so powerful it made me weak. The new mom, upon unwrapping the lavender baby kimono, put it on the baby straightaway. A perfect fit. The entire northwest corner of our office building was melting from the cuteness.

So today I finished this little ensemble:

The cardi (which still needs blocking) was made with less than one hank of Cascade 220. It's one of the nicer variations I've found on the "5-Hour Baby Sweater." And of course, yet another ribbed cap, knit from Wildfoote Handpaints sock yarn. Still staggering from the power of the urge to make clothes for this kid, I also purchased this:

Lucia's mom was born in Holland, and orange is the national color, which is something I did not know. And having gone through this myself, I totally respect her wishes to dress Lucia in colors other than pink. I've got nothing against pink--it happens to be one of my favorite colors--but what will probably happen is, once the child is old enough to dress herself, or at least choose her clothes, she may very well go through a pink phase. Right now, she doesn't have a say-so.

But, as I'm fond of saying, that ain't all! From Jimmy Beans Wool, I ordered a baby blanket kit with Blue Sky Organic Cotton dyed white. Someone stop me. Please...

In Memoriam

Very saddened to learn of the death of Brad Delp, lead singer of the 70's supergroup Boston. This isn't just hero worship--I actually knew Brad. We both went to the same high school--Danvers High School, Danvers, Mass. We also worked at the same factory, a place that manufactured heating units, called "Hotwatt" (insert crude joke of your choice). He was sweet and nice to everyone, a quiet guy who was a huge Beatles fan. When he left for the West Coast to make an album, I hadn't even known he was in a band--he kept such a low profile. Of course I was blown away by his talent and Boston's huge success. He came back a year later with the platinum album, posing for a picture with all the young people at Hotwatt.

I'm lighting a candle tonight, in memory of a fallen Danvers boy.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Must use up the stash

Here's the "Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono" from MDK, and it's really, really tiny. Sure, it wasn't much knitting, so I'm OK with the fact that the newborn it was made for will have about a two-week window of time in which it will fit her. (Take lotsa pictures, please, new mom!) The kimono took just one ball of Rowan Calmer, which is rapidly becoming my favorite yarn of all time to knit with (as opposed to my favorite yarn to just sit and admire). But seriously, Calmer is the sex. The softest, cuddliest stuff in the universe. This is the ball I was left with after making a camisole last summer, and that cami still feels and looks good after many washings and wearings.
Oh, and the little cap is from the first Not Just Socks book--I used a bit less than half a skein of Koigu. Now that I look at it, it's probably a bit too dark for baby wear--it's just that the colorway complemented the shade of Calmer, I've had it in my stash for over a year, and--and it's, well, it's Koigu.
Knitting baby stuff may not be the quickest way to use up stash, but it sure is addicting! I've got another little cap on the needles using sock yarn. And I found a little coat pattern which will use up a leftover skein of Cascade. My big projects continue to languish--they sit in the corner and judge me--but here's how I figure it: there's only a short time in which a baby can wear something you knit for him or her. An adult size sweater, shawl or blanket can be worn/used year in, year out, and it hardly ever gets covered in strained squash or spit-up.
This is one of those nights where I've already done the mental composition of a hysterically funny (at least it cracked me up at the time) blog post, but as soon as I sat down to write it, I couldn't remember any of it. So instead, let me give you my recipe for fried rice. I've been making this stuff for the past quarter century, and it is the ultimate quick meal or snack:
2 cups cold cooked rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup diced ham or chicken
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 egg
Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add rice and stir until hot and mixed with oil. Stir in green onion and ham, cook and stir briefly. Add soy sauce and mix well. Push mixture to sides of pan. Break the egg in the center, and stir until egg is almost set. Remove pan from heat and mix egg into rice.
Serves 1 as a main dish or 2 as a side dish.

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