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Archive for May 2008

perfect potato salad

May 31st, 2008 — 5:57pm

I love a good potato salad, but it’s nearly impossible to find a perfect one. I don’t want eggs, or too much GOOP, and it shouldn’t be very sweet, but it should have a bit of crunch and tang. I combined elements from a few different recipes and created a perfect potato salad:

Kara’s Perfect Potato Salad

about 2.5 pounds of red potatoes (I buy a 5-pound bag of organic reds and use about half per batch)
4 or so green onions, thinly sliced
1 or 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of dried dill (you might want less but I like MegaDill)
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c mayonnaise
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar (the kind used to make sushi; it’s slightly sweet.) NOTE: I accidentally used three tablespoons last time and it was even better

Boil up the potatoes gently so they don’t fall apart. Don’t overcook them! Cool and chop into nice little bites.

Mix everything else in a bowl to make a nice dressing, and then gently mix the dressing with the potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill, and then eat for every meal till it’s gone.

5 comments » | Blog, Recipes

Two librivox milestones!

May 29th, 2008 — 8:36pm

We at (where you can download free, public domain audio books) achieved two amazing milestones today. We keep track of how many books we complete each month, and of course our total. As May progressed, it looked likely that we’d break our previous record of 77 books back in July of 2007. Well, a few days ago we hit 80… then yesterday it was 90… then today we reached 100! One hundred brand-new audio books cataloged in just one month! Here’s a screenshot of that wonderful number:

(the chart was too tall to fit into my screenshot, but it goes back in time to 9-2005, when we cataloged our first book)

Oh, and the 100th book this month was

And another impressive number is our total number of completed audio books, which reached 1500 today!


Our 1500th book was

Isn’t that amazing? In case you don’t know, librivox is made up entirely of volunteers, from administrators to coders to organizers to readers to proof-listeners to catalogers to cheer-leaders to cover-art makers to podcast makers, and everyone else! GO TEAM LIBRIVOX!

5 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

or maybe not…

May 29th, 2008 — 11:43am

Henry’s still sick, but a little better. Poor boy. He was so looking forward to school today — they’re going to make clay gargoyles in art class. But he might be able to join the Tuesday art class next week to make his gargoyle. I sure hope so. I slept ten hours last night and I am not actually sick yet! I feel a little funny and a little bit stuffed up, but no big awful sore throat, so maybe I won’t get one.

1 comment » | Blog

getting sick, I think

May 28th, 2008 — 5:01pm

Yesterday Henry came down with a headache and a sore throat all of a sudden while he was at his Guys and Dolls rehearsal, so we came home early and he lay around feeling horrible and went to bed early. He felt too awful even to play World of Warcraft. Today he’s a little better but his throat is still sore. We did manage to get his dragon collection delivered to the fairgrounds, and my knitted stuff. But now we’re home and I’m starting to feel kind of bad. BAH. :(

Comment » | Blog


May 27th, 2008 — 9:41pm

Need a laugh? Here’s my favorite Hilarious Thing of the Day: David Armand’s, um, interpretive dance version of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn”. I don’t know what part is my favorite… the last “you’re a little late”, the “oooo”s, the slidey solo, the “holy light”, the “illusion”, every single “torn”… It’s just good. Good from beginning to end. If you were living in a cave in 1997 and you don’t know the lyrics, look them up and read them while watching the video.

If you need more, search youtube for the Secret Policeman’s Ball version. Natalie herself ends up dancing along with David!

The downside is that now I’ve got that damn song stuck in my head, and I don’t even LIKE it! But it’s worth it.

2 comments » | Blog

Leftover Laceweight Fern Lace Scarf

May 26th, 2008 — 3:21pm

Updated October 17 2008 with better edging instructions!

I had about 38 grams of a 50-gram skein of Knitpicks’ Shadow merino laceweight leftover from my sister’s Print o’ the Wave stole, and I wanted to whip up a bit of lace to enter in our fair this summer. So I planned out an easy little lace scarf. I knit the edging on the long sides as I went along, so I was able to use up almost all the yarn and then just save a little for the edging on the two short sides.


Yarn: any leftover laceweight, 30 grams or more (less is fine but will make a rather short scarf)
Needles: your favorite lace needles. I used Knitpicks Harmony circs size 2, but I am a notoriously loose knitter, and I think it would have looked better if I’d used bigger needles anyway. You’ll probably want size 3 to 5, or even larger if you knit very tightly. Larger needles = longer/wider scarf.
Finished Dimensions: Mine turned out to be about 9 1/2″ x 52″ after blocking. Yours will surely vary somewhat!

Ok, think of this scarf as being made of several columns. The right-side edging is the first column, then a 2-stitch always-purl garter column, then a fern-lace column worked over 16 stitches, then another 2-stitch column of garter, then another fern-lace column, then another garter column, then the left edging. If you want a wider scarf or a stole and you have plenty of yarn, you can work more fern lace columns separated by garter columns. If you want skinny, just work one repeat of the fern lace (just like the chart).

Wrong sides: always knit the wrong side of the edging, always purl the wrong side of the fern lace and garter columns. I’ll say this again later on so you don’t forget.

Start by casting on using your favorite provisional cast-on. I prefer this one.

You’ll need 4 st for the right edging, 2 for the first garter column, 16 for one fern repeat, 2 for the garter column between fern repeats, another 16 for the second fern repeat, 2 more for the last garter column, and then 4 for the left edging. Which makes, um, 46. Yes, cast on 46! Place ring markers between every column so there’s never any doubt what’s what and where you are. Seriously. I don’t usually have to do that, but I messed up a lot until I gave in and placed markers.

Now begin following the chart. Chart shows only odd-numbered right side rows (if I’d remembered to write the numbers in they’d be 1, 3, 5, 7, etc.) Go ahead and write them in :) For even-numbered, wrong-side rows, KNIT the edging stitches and PURL all the other stitches.

(D’OH. I forgot a symbol key. Circle = YO. Dot = purl. Right edging dec: ssk. Left edging dec: k2tog. Right side of fern lace dec: k3tog. Left side of fern lace dec: sl1, k2tog, psso) (Another note: the edging is an 8-row repeat. The fern lace is a 12-row repeat. The chart shows 24 rows so the two patterns work out even.)(Chart shows only odd-numbered, right-side rows)

Casting off for pointy edging:
When you complete the 7th row, you’ll have 8 edging stitches on each side. On the 8th (wrong-side) row, cast off the first 4 stitches so you only have 4 stitches remaining before the first marker. Work across. When you turn to begin the 9th row, immediately cast off 4 stitches (4 stitches remain before first marker) — then follow chart for row 9 (k1, yo, ssk, yo, k1).

Ok, so keep working until you’re nearly out of yarn. End after having cast off the edge stitches so there are 4 stitches remaining on each side next to the purl columns (you might have to fudge this a bit). I put my working stitches on a string after a while and worked the edging across the cast-on stitches using the other end of the yarn, and then I knew I really only needed a little bit left for the last short edging.

To work the short-end edgings:

If you’ve ever knit an edging onto a piece of lace, you know what to do. If you haven’t, well, I’ll do my best to explain :)

Hold the scarf right-side facing you, and cast-on edge up. Slide a needle through 6 cast-on loops from left to right – 4 loops for the edging and 2 loops for the garter column. The tip of the needle will be pointing toward the rest of the cast-on loops. Ok. Now, slide the other end of your circular needle through the rest of the loops from right to left.


Start working from the point between the needles, toward the left . You’ll be working the garter column and edging according to the left side of the chart. Always SLIP the first stitch of EVERY RIGHT SIDE row. So, for the first row: sl1, p1(place marker here to divide edging from garter column), k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k1. Turn, work wrong-side row: K5, slip marker, p1 — NOW ssk the last st together with the first stitch from the other needle. Drop the right-most loop of the ssk’d stitch but leave the left-most loop on the needle, and use it next time to help the corner lie flat.


Turn, work next RS row from chart: sl1, p1, slip marker, k2, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Turn, work next WS row: k6, slip marker, p1, ssk with the stitch you didn’t drop last time to help the corner lie flat. Drop the whole ssk’d stitch this time.

Next RS row: sl1, p1, slip marker, k3, yo, k2tog, yo, k1. Turn. WS row: k7, slip marker, p1, ssk (drop only right loop of ssk’d stitch again, and save left loop for the next ssk)
RS row: sl1, p1, slip marker, k4, yo, k2tog, yo, k1, turn.
WS row: this is the 8th row, the one where you cast off four stitches to create a point. CO 4, k4 (make sure you have only 4 loops left before marker), slip marker, p1, ssk with leftover loop of last ssk.



Keep working edging and purl column, decreasing away stitches from the original cast-on stitches on every wrong side row (don’t double up ssks anymore) until there are only 8 cast-on stitches left. (Better put a marker 8 stitches in from the other side so you remember that that’s the time to double up your ssks again (ask me how I know that you’ll forget otherwise… )

For the last repeat, double up the decreases again so the corner lies flat. That will eat up two of the last 8 stitches.

Then when you’re all done, weave the 6 remaining cast-on stitches together with the 6 working stitches. Voila!



Do the same thing with the live stitches at the other end of the scarf.

Gently wash and block your scarf. Enjoy!


UPDATE (July 8 2008): At our County Fair this year, my scarf won first prize and a special donated award — a $50 gift certificate to a local yarn store, Common Threads, in Encinitas.


Here’s Marlene‘s scarf:

marlene’s scarf

54 comments » | Blog, Free Patterns, Handmade

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

May 26th, 2008 — 11:54am

Thank you everyone for the “feel better” wishes! It’s nice to know that there’s a good reason for the awfulness I’ve been feeling, and that I will be feeling better soon.

Hmm, here’s a “symptoms of hypothyroidism” checklist:

____ I am gaining weight inappropriately
____ I’m unable to lose weight with diet/exercise
____ I am constipated, sometimes severely
__x__ I have hypothermia/low body temperature (I feel cold when others feel hot, I need extra sweaters, etc.)
__x__ I feel fatigued, exhausted
__x__ Feeling run down, sluggish, lethargic
__x__ My hair is coarse and dry, breaking, brittle, falling out
____ My skin is coarse, dry, scaly, and thick
__x__ I have a hoarse or gravely voice
____ I have puffiness and swelling around the eyes and face
__x__ I have pains, aches in joints, hands and feet
____ I have developed carpal-tunnel syndrome, or it’s getting worse
__x__ I am having irregular menstrual cycles (longer, or heavier, or more frequent)
____ I am having trouble conceiving a baby
__x__ I feel depressed
__x__ I feel restless
__x__ My moods change easily
__x__ I have feelings of worthlessness
__x__ I have difficulty concentrating
__x__ I have more feelings of sadness
__x__ I seem to be losing interest in normal daily activities
__x__ I’m more forgetful lately

I also have the following additional symptoms, which have been reported more frequently in people with hypothyroidism:

__x__ My hair is falling out
__x__ I can’t seem to remember things
__x__ I have no sex drive
____ I am getting more frequent infections, that last longer
____ I’m snoring more lately
____ I have/may have sleep apnea
____ I feel shortness of breath and tightness in the chest
__x__ I feel the need to yawn to get oxygen
__x__ My eyes feel gritty and dry
__x__ My eyes feel sensitive to light
____ My eyes get jumpy/tics in eyes, which makes me dizzy/vertigo and have headaches
____ I have strange feelings in neck or throat
__x__ I have tinnitus (ringing in ears)
____ I get recurrent sinus infections
____ I have vertigo
__x__ I feel some lightheadedness
____ I have severe menstrual cramps

Yup. No fun. If you have some of these symptoms, see an endocrinologist! Hypothyroidism often goes undiagnosed. Since I bounce between hypo and hyper, I should always be on the alert, but even so it took weeks of ill health before I added everything up and made that doctor appointment.

4 comments » | Blog

low thyroid levels

May 21st, 2008 — 5:06pm

Heard back from my endocrinologist — my thyroid levels are very low (surprise, surprise) and he’s changing my synthroid dose from 50 mcg to 75 mcg. So within a few weeks I’ll probably start to feel better and be able to do the grocery shopping without wanting to lie down for the rest of the day.

I dreamt of a 12-floor library last night, with shopping carts to gather up the books with. Yum.

3 comments » | Blog

catching up

May 20th, 2008 — 10:49am

After a long hot weekend, yesterday was a perfect summer day, and it looks like we’re headed for cooler weather again. Good. Summer is bad enough here without it starting in May.

Sorry I haven’t been blogging much… I haven’t been feeling well for the last couple of months and it’s hard to do much of anything. It kind of snuck up on me gradually, until I suddenly realized that I had many symptoms of bad thyroid levels again. I saw my endocrinologist last week. I hope it’s my thyroid levels, ’cause that’s very easy to fix with an adjustment to my synthroid dose.

So, yeah. I’ve been very slowly knitting a lace scarf to enter in the fair. It has to be delivered next week, but I’m almost out of yarn so I should be finishing soon. I used a fern lace pattern and knit a sweet pointed edging along the sides as I went, ’cause I didn’t know how far the yarn would take me. I already knit the edging onto the cast on edge.


I’ve been reading a little bit, though it’s hard to concentrate on anything but the most compelling stories, and I do find myself reading the same page several times. But Anna Maxted is always good, and I’ve just started The Country Wife by Dorothy Van Doren. I’ve been reading Everything Bad is Good For You to Henry for his bedtime story. :) When we’re done with that, I’m going to try him on some Agatha Christie.

Also, TV has been pretty entertaining lately. I discovered, where you can watch full episodes, clips, and a few movies for free, legally. Sure, the selection is limited and there are a few short ads, but if you want to see last night’s Family Guy without bothering to find a torrent and download it, hulu does the job. Also is handy — we’ve been working our way through Seinfeld in order on the weekends :)

The Office season finale was excellent. Survivor is over now, sigh, but we have next fall to look forward to. We’ve been catching up on House — the current season is quite good. And The Tudors is great. Poor Ann. And last week we finally had a good episode of Battlestar Galactica! FINALLY! Things happened and it wasn’t boring! Dancing With The Stars ends tonight. We can’t wait for next season.

Oh, and my night-elf druid hit 70 last weekend :)

2 comments » | Blog, Handmade

Leaping Henry!

May 18th, 2008 — 8:16pm

DSC_5221 - Version 2

It was very hot all weekend, but in the late afternoon and evening our backyard is shady, breezy, and pleasant. Dan and I sat out there today and watched Henry running and jumping! Dan took this photo.

3 comments » | Blog

Happy Birthday Dan!

May 16th, 2008 — 7:55am

Happy birthday to Dan, the best husband in the whole world, and also the most kick-ass little gnome mage on Azeroth!
Lerxst of Aggramar
Lerxst of Aggramar

Lerxst of Aggramar
Lerxst, drawn by Henry for Dan’s birthday

Happy, happy birthday! I hope it’s filled with elite gear :)

3 comments » | Blog

Confessions of a Readaholic

May 13th, 2008 — 8:03pm

I just discovered that James Lileks (of The Daily Bleat, The Institute of Official Cheer, and the incomparable Gallery of Regrettable Food) has a youtube channel. Here’s an 8-minute literacy promotion film from 1986, starring James himself as a readaholic.

So good, so good. Wish Dad were around to see that :)

1 comment » | Blog

Goodbye, Caleb

May 13th, 2008 — 11:00am

I’ve been putting off writing this post, but I feel like I have to write something so you, my friends, will know what has happened. Last Thursday, May 8th, 2008, I heard that my young cousin Caleb had just died of a drug overdose. Caleb was the older half-brother of my three little boy cousins who were in town last week for their sister’s wedding.

Our family is devastated.

Caleb’s funeral was Sunday.

5 comments » | Blog

no shampoo!

May 7th, 2008 — 11:36am

One day near the end of April, I read this page on DIY “green” cleaning products. I tried the salt and boiling water trick on our sluggish bathtub drain and it worked like a charm. That page led me to a page about a method for washing your hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Sounds odd, eh? But I read through it and figured I might as well give it a try, since my hair is a constant source of misery (brittle the day I wash it, even when I condition, then greasy and nasty the next day). KC pointed me to another page, with a slightly different method (dilute the baking soda instead of making it into a paste) which is easier. I dare you to read that page and then put ordinary shampoo on your head. EWWWW.

I started my experiment on May 1st, and have not used “real” shampoo since then. I am shocked and delighted to find that, from the very first day, my hair has turned out soft, clean, and shiny! It’s never brittle, and stays clean and nice-looking for two days. It really works! Here’s what I do:

Put one cup of warm water into each of two small plastic containers. Put one tablespoon of baking soda into one, and one tablespoon on apple cider vinegar into the other (ran out of ACV a few days ago and have used white vinegar since then, seems to work fine, but I’ll pick up more ACV soon).

While showering, I rinse my hair first, then trickle the baking soda mixture over my head and work it in well. Sometimes I comb it through. I leave it on my hair for a minute or two, then rinse well, then do the same thing with the vinegar mixture. Easy.

Now, it’s only been a week, but so far so good!

8 comments » | Blog


May 7th, 2008 — 11:01am

We love Dancing with the Stars! Cristian was amazing last night, even dancing with an injured arm. I hope he or Jason is the winner. Tonight we’ll see who went home this week.

I’m still a little bit sick, but nothing drastic. My throat isn’t sore anymore, but just a little bit scratchy, and I’m tired and feel generally crummy.

Henry and I just sent grocery shopping, and now I’ll make him some lunch (he picked out some fresh gorgonzola and mushroom ravioli), and then I guess I will lie around until Kung Fu, because I don’t really feel like doing anything.

We mailed off our entries for the Del Mar Fair a couple days ago. Henry’s entering his dragon collection, and I decided to enter my red cardigan and the lace scarf that I’m knitting with the leftover yarn from Kirsten’s stole, so I have two weeks to finish that up before we have to deliver our stuff to the fairgrounds.

Oh, and my favorite WoW character, Animala the Night Elf Druid, reached level 69 last night, and 350 leatherworking, so now, once I collect the very expensive materials, I can craft a fancy Riding Crop that will make my mount go 10% faster. Nerd. (She also got her Druid flight form at lvl 68, which is absolutely the best thing ever!)

Comment » | Blog

Code Monkey

May 4th, 2008 — 9:01pm

Our Guild Leader, Dita, brought the song “Code Monkey” by Jonathan Coulton to my attention. What a great song! Here’s a WoW-type video for the song:


And another video that I really like too. So creative!

Code Monkey Lyrics:

Code Monkey get up get coffee
Code Monkey go to job
Code Monkey have boring meeting
with boring manager Rob

Rob say Code Monkey very diligent
but his output stink
his code not functional or elegant
what do Code Monkey think

Code Monkey think maybe manager oughta write goddamn login page himself
Code Monkey not say it out loud
Code Monkey not crazy just proud

Code Monkey like Fritos
Code Monkey like Tab and Mountain Dew
Code Monkey very simple man
with big warm fuzzy secret heart
Code Monkey like you
Code Monkey like you

Code Monkey hang around at front desk
tell you sweater look nice
Code Monkey offer buy you soda
bring you cup bring you ice

you say no thank you for the soda ’cause
soda make you fat
anyway you busy with the telephone
no time for chat

Code Monkey have long walk back to cubicle
he sit down pretend to work
Code Monkey not thinking so straight
Code Monkey not feeling so great

Code Monkey like Fritos
Code Monkey like Tab and Mountain Dew
Code Monkey very simple man
with big warm fuzzy secret heart
Code Monkey like you
Code Monkey like you a lot

Code Monkey have every reason
to get out this place
Code Monkey just keep on working
to see your soft pretty face

Much rather wake up eat a coffee cake
Take bath, take nap
This job fulfilling in creative way
such a load of crap

Code Monkey think someday he have everything even pretty girl like you
Code Monkey just waiting for now
Code Monkey say someday, somehow

Code Monkey like Fritos
Code Monkey like Tab and Mountain Dew
Code Monkey very simple man
with big warm fuzzy secret heart
Code Monkey like you
Code Monkey like you

2 comments » | Blog

Sore throat

May 4th, 2008 — 9:20am

Ugh, woke up with a sore throat. Henry had a mild one last week, so that’s probably the one I have now. His didn’t last long, so maybe mine won’t either. I took a large spoonful of honey this morning when I got up, and another an hour later. I think maybe it helped a bit.

Comment » | Blog

Gold and Silver for Henry!

May 3rd, 2008 — 1:19pm

Whoops, missed a few days.

Two days after we had that crazy 95-degree weather, the temperature dropped and it was in the mid 50s. Ohhhh-Kay. Now it’s a normal and pleasant low-70s.

One of my cousins is getting married in SD this weekend, so her dad (my crazy Uncle Scott), his wife (Jennifer), and their three sons came into town on Thursday and we got to spend a lot of time with them yesterday. The boys are 14, 12, and 10, so Henry’s right in the middle and had a lot of fun running around with them. Chloe and Bob joined us, and we all went to the harbor and toured the USS Midway, which was amazing, and then in the evening we went to a Rockola show at a nice little out-door community springtime festival!

This morning Henry was in a Kung Fu tournament with a billion other students from White Dragon Kung Fu schools. He won a gold medal for Technique and a silver medal for Form! Yay Henry!!!!

I’ll go dump my camera and maybe post some pictures of all these goings-on later. I’m pretty tired right now though.

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