Thursday, February 22, 2007

New Haircut

Not very exciting news, but I finally got a haircut.  My hair was getting pretty long and it was taking me 10 minutes to dry it.  I finally got fed up with it this morning and got it cut.  I think it turned out alright.  I'm not too happy with the picture (I think it looks like I'm trying too hard) but all the other photos I took make me look like a goofball.  Maybe I can get Kevin to take another photo this weekend.  He doesn't know that I've cut it, so hopefully he'll be surprised when he gets home!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Knitted Tank Top

Here's my latest knitted project - a tank top I designed myself.  I finished it several weeks ago but I didn't post it because I wanted to write up detailed instructions for it.  I've been sitting at the computer for the past two weeks and I can't seem to do it!  It's not that it was that difficult to knit; it's just difficult to explain in writing.  When I sat down at the computer I would end up writing only one or two lines of instruction before I would get stuck and end up staring at the screen for an hour.  I finally decided that my time could be better spent actually knitting something!  So I'm not going to provide detailed instructions, just some general information on how I knitted it.

Front of Tank Top

Back of Tank Top

Project Name: Cathy's Easy Knit Tank Top
Time Taken to Finish: 1 month (I was knitting intermittenly - I was having eye trouble and couldn't knit much some days)
Type of Yarn Used: Yarn Bee Cameo in Seashell
Amount of Yarn Used: About 2 1/2 skeins (each skein was 142 yards/3.5 oz)
Needles Used: US size 7 circular needles (36 inches long)
What I Liked About the Project: Almost all of the knitting was in stockinette stitch, which is very easy to do when knitting in the round.  The tank is cute, fits well, and is very soft!
What I Didn't Like About the Project: I did not make the bottom border wide enough - it was only half an inch wide and the "curl" of the stockinette stitch causes it to flip up sometimes.  Even though it's a tank top, the yarn is so heavy it will probably be too warm to wear in the summer.  I'll probably end up wearing it to sleep instead.  I may even make a pair of shorts to match!

Here's what I did to knit it:

1. After knitting a gauge swatch, I cast on the number of stitches I needed at my hips and joined them in the round.
2. I knit a 1/2 inch border of knit one, purl one rib.  If I did it again I would knit at least a 1 inch border.  If you look at the photo you will probably notice that my border doesn't look like a knit one, purl one rib.  This is because I messed it up and purled one then knitted one on alternate rows.
3. I switched to stockinette stitch and began decreasing stitches evenly so that, by the time I had knitted 7 inches, I had the correct number of stitches I needed for my waist.
4. I then began increasing stitches so that, by the time I had knitted another 7 inches (for a total of 14 inches,) I had the correct number of stitches I needed for my bust.
5. I bound off the arm holes and the neck hole (front and back) and knit the four straps individually (right front and back straps, left front and back straps).
6. I used Kitchener stitch to connect the front and back straps, and then weaved in all loose ends.  Done!

By the way, I'm re-reading all the Harry Potter books in preparation for this July!  With the new movie and the final book due then, it promises to be an exciting month!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Yum! Melba Toast

I wanted to share the recipe for my new favorite snack to make - Melba toast!  I've always liked the store-bought Melba toast, but it seems a bit expensive for the amount of toast you get and it's not exactly low calorie.  I didn't realize how easy it was to make until one day I really wanted some but didn't want to bother with going to the store.  I did happen to have a loaf of my low-calorie sliced white bread, and I wondered if I could use it to make Melba toast.  I went on the internet and found numerous recipes, very few of which agreed with one another.  So I experimented quite a bit and came up with my own recipe!

Melba Toast Recipe

- First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

- Next, toast your bread.  It should be as well-browned as you can get it without burning it - I usually use a toaster oven.  Keep in mind that you will get four pieces of Melba toast for every slice of bread you use.

Toasted slices of bread

- Now, cut each slice of bread in half lengthwise (see photo below).

Cutting toast in half

- Standing the half of toast on end, split it through the middle (see photo below).  You should now have two quarters of toast, each untoasted on one side.

Making toast quarters

- Arrange all the toast quarters on a baking sheet with the untoasted sides facing up (see photo below).  Place baking sheet in oven on center rack.

Toast quarters on baking sheet

- Now all you have to do is check the toast often and remove each piece once it is evenly browned (as in photo at the top of the post).  I usually check on it after four minutes and then every two minutes thereafter.  The pieces of Melba toast will not brown at the same time - thinner slices will brown first.  Make sure that you check them often and remove each piece when it is ready to avoid burning anything.  For me, the thinner pieces usually take 4-6 minutes and the thicker pieces take 10-12 minutes.

I love eating Melba toast with fancy cheeses, but it is also good as a side dish with soups and pasta.  You can make it out of any type of bread you like, including french bread.  I personally think that, for Melba toast, white bread tastes better that wheat.  I like to use light Wonder bread, which only has 40 calories per slice, so only 80 calories for 8 pieces of Melba toast.  Yum!

Strange Coincidences

I wanted to mention two strange coincidences that happened to me this morning...

Kevin and both got up early today to take my truck into the shop for a "check-up."  Even though the shop did not open until 8 am, we had to leave the truck there before 7 am so Kevin could get to work on time.  We wrote all our contact information on an envelope the shop provided, then dropped the keys in the envelope and put the envelope in a mail slot.  Kevin dropped me off at home and asked me to call the shop around 9 am to make sure that they got the keys.  I took a short nap and woke up at almost precisely 9 am.  I picked up the phone to call the shop but strangely there was no dial tone.  I hung it up and tried again but there was still no dial tone!  However, while I was listening for the dial tone the second time I realized that I was not hearing "dead air" - I was hearing scuffling noises on the line!  I started to freak out, thinking that someone was tapping my line or something.  I was trying to be quiet and listen to see if I could figure out what was happening when I heard Kevin's voice say "Hello?"  It turns out that he had called me just as I picked up the phone to call the car shop.  The phone never even rang!  I can only think of one other time in my life when that has happened - it was when I was in elementary school and I picked up the phone to call a friend just as she called me.  I'm sure it probably happens to people all the time but I still find it pretty astonishing!

The second coincidence was even more odd - Kevin was calling because the auto repair guy had been calling him at his office all morning, even though my name was on the envelope and the only numbers we provided were our home phone and my cell phone!  We were scratching our heads trying to figure out how they knew to call Kevin and how they figured out where he worked.  When I hung up with Kevin, I called the repair guy back to make sure he was going to change our windshield wipers.  While we were on the phone I asked him how he knew to call Kevin and where he got his work number.  It turns out that they still had records for my truck in their computer system from when I had it checked out the last time I lived here in 2004.  I wouldn't have thought that they could have made the connection since I now have new license plates and a new last name, but they use the VIN number to track vehicles so they were able to look me up!  The repair guy said that he hadn't even looked at the numbers on the envelope we gave them - he had just called the number in their system...which was my old work number.  And since Kevin now works at the same place, somehow the call managed to get transferred to him!  Funny, huh?

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