Friday, December 09, 2011

Better than Costco

Vitabath, price is better than Costco and with Amazon Prime, no warehouse, no lines, free delivery to your door in 2 days.  Time and stress saved is free, too!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

He’s Got the Moves

Weston and Brennan try out their new Bibs!
I made some bibs for our friends Lisa and David’s twins Weston and Brennan.  I think you can see that Weston, on the left, might have the size advantage, but Brennan has the moves!
Inspired by Mason Dixon Knitting, and Barbara Walker , and my own free pattern; these boys are well covered for now!  Check out my blog for more bib details.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Find Me Now on WordPress

Now over on CatKnitz. 

Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Koah's Bib's 2

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Koah's Bibs

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Never Pay a Credit Card Late Fee Again

I have been reading Nudge and I had to make my pitch for behavioral economics since I am taking a short break from knitting.
Here’s my nudge suggestion that I think would reduce and possibly mostly eliminate late credit card payment fees for consumers and provide a win for card issuers, too. (not that they need it!).
Make the “default” method of payment for credit card bills the “auto-pay” option which many, if not all, credit card companies offer. Among the auto-pay options, make the default, the minimum payment.
Most, if not all, credit card companies allow for payment by an “automatic deduction” or “auto-pay” (there are other names for it) from your checking or savings account. This is NOT online banking (where you have to “push the button” to initiate the payment). (Online banking is not foolproof. If you forget to initiate the payment, it doesn’t get made. If the credit card company changes the date the payment is due and you don’t catch that piece of information, the payment is late, online banking or no online banking. OK, I’m not a fan of online banking.)
You fill out a form with your checking or savings account number on it, your signature, etc. giving the credit card company “permission” to deduct the payment from your account each month. This is a pre-determined deduction/payment (usually around the same day each month) from your checking or savings account for payment of the credit card bill. The deduction/payment can take 1 of 3 forms:
  1. (default choice) You can choose the minimum payment to be deducted from your account each month
  2. You can choose a fixed amount as long as it is above the minimum payment. Otherwise, it will be the minimum payment.
  3. Or you can request that the entire balance each month be deducted from your account.
At any time during the month, the consumer can send additional payments toward reducing the balance.
Here are the facts:
  1. Most consumers are already paying the credit card bill with a check so a checking or savings account exists in most cases. True, some people may be using a cashier’s check or going to the bank with cash and may not have a checking account, but I would suspect the majority of people mail the check to make the payment.
  2. By using the “auto-pay” method, checks NEVER arrive late. Consumers never forget to pay the bill. Checks don’t get lost in the mail. Credit card companies always get the payment (unless there are insufficient funds in the account).
  3. Consumers are protected should they go on vacation, out of town, get sick, etc. and neglect to pay the bill.
  4. Consumers are protected should the credit card company move the PO Box where payments go and now it takes more time for their payment to reach the PO Box and now the payment is late. This doesn’t happen with “auto-pay”.
  5. Consumers are protected if the credit card company changes the date due or shortens the time between billing and payment due.
  6. Consumers are protected from checks being “lost in the mail or delayed because of inclement weather, natural disasters, or holidays”. With the US Postal system currently operating under large financial stress, this may increase.
  7. If you are signed up for the “auto-pay” option, the credit card company will never be able to say your payment is late, unlike if you pay by online banking since THE CREDIT CARD COMPANY is in control of deducting the money from your account to pay the bill.
  8. Consumers will never pay a late fee if they use this option and have sufficient funds in their account
The banks/credit card issuers would not earn as much from late fees, but I suspect default rates on credit cards would decline if the agreed upon monthly payments were automatically deducted from the consumer’s account.
While I don’t have data to support this, (but I am certain somebody does) my guess is lower default rates would:
1. Offset the loss in revenue from late fees, and
2. Generate more revenue overall. If people weren’t spending money on late fees, they might put that money toward keeping their credit card bills current.
I believe that before the current economic crisis, the default rate on credit cards was 6%; I don’t know what the current rate is now, but I know it has risen along with unemployment rates. If an incentive (lower interest rates or higher credit limits, perhaps?) were given to the consumer to choose the default, “auto-pay” option; both sides win.
As you may suspect, my husband and I have been paying our bills this way for many years. In addition to saving lots of postage (!), we have saved ourselves a lot of worry. We now pay the majority of our bills this way: our utilities, our insurance premiums, credit cards, etc. are all deducted from our checking account every month. Several weeks before the deduction we receive the bill, we look it over and then I write the amount to be deducted in the check register (I’m old fashioned). Some of my friends just wait for it to show up on their bank statement. Nothing gives you more peace of mind when you go out of town than to know that your bills will be paid whether or not you are there to do it.
This is my nudge suggestion.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Beanie Babe

This is the first in a series of Beanie posts.

Noro Kureyon Beanie. Takes one skein. Knit in the round.

Get your gauge, then cast on the number of stitches based on your head circumference (make the number divisible by 8, more on that later) and how you want the hat to fit. If you want it tight fitting, subtract an inch. If you like it loose fitting, do not subtract.

Garter edge for 1 1/2 inches then stockinette stitch for the desired length (depends on your head size and how you like to wear your beanie: high on your forehead or low near your eyebrows. Measure a hat that you like the fit.)

Note: Garter stitch in the round is: knit a row, purl a row. Repeat these 2 rows for a garter "ridge" or 2 garter stitch rows. Be sure to mark the beginning or end of the round so you know where to change from knit to purl.

When it is time to begin the crown decrease, divide the total number of stitches by 8, (you will have 8 sections) then knit to the last 2 stitches in each section and knit 2 together. (k2 tog) for the entire round.

Knit the next round, no decreases.

Repeat these 2 rounds until you have 8 stitches remaining. Try the hat on to see if it fits. If so, cut the yarn, leaving about a 6" tail.

Thread a tapestry needle and thread the yarn through the open 8 loops. Pull tight to close hole. Weave in all ends, block as appropriate for your yarn, and enjoy! this website explains it really well.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Wild Rice

Click to enlarge, the detail is delicious looking!


1 lb wild rice, which is approximately 3 cups wild rice. 

2 bay leaves

8 sprigs fresh thyme, tied in a bundle

Cook wild rice as follows:  Rinse wild rice in a sieve/strainer under cold water.  Combine 1 ¾ c. chicken stock with ¼ c. cold water to make 2 cups liquid for each cup of wild rice.  So, for the pound of wild rice, 6 cups of the stock/water mixture is needed.  Add 2 bay leaves, a bundle of fresh thyme (8 sprigs), 1 tsp salt.

In a heavy pot, bring to boil, and then simmer for 25 to 35 minutes until rice is chewy, but tender; individual grains plumped but still intact (start checking at 25 minutes).  Drain any excess liquid. There will be excess liquid, possibly a few cups.  Not to worry! (This method of cooking the rice is courtesy of Cook's Illustrated Magazine which has been a favorite subscription for many years).

For vinaigrette

 Puree all ingredients except olive oil in food processor or blender.  With the food processor running, add olive oil in steady stream until olive oil is incorporated/emulsified.  Make vinaigrette at least one day ahead for flavors to meld.

1/2 cup fresh orange juice or I have used OJ concentrate undiluted
6 tablespoons chopped shallot
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1-2 T sugar

4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


1 cup jasmine or basmati white rice.  Cook white rice as follows:  Rinse rice according to package directions.  Sauté rice for 2-3 minutes in melted butter and salt in sauce pan you are going to cook it in on low to medium heat.  You are coating the grains of rice with the butter as (similar to risotto) and lightly toasting the rice.  Add water and cook until rice is done, 10 minutes +/-. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes.


2 T unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups water, boiling!

½ t salt

3 cups hickory nuts (!) or chopped pecans, toasted
1 1/4 cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (you can use more)
1 cup dried apricots, thinly sliced
1 cup dried cranberries or sour cherries (I chop them)

Assemble salad:

Stir together the rices, vinaigrette, nuts, parsley, dried fruit, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve at room temperature.

Cooks' note:

• Salad keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days.

• If making ahead of time, you can combine the rice and vinaigrette.  Add the dried fruit, parsley and nuts up to an hour before serving for best flavor.

Serves 12 (I think it serves more than 12)

Gourmet Entertains, original recipe, see Epicurious: additions and revisions by CatKnitz
February 2000



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Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Little Horsing Around


Fine Cooking, simple ingredients.

From a John Ash recipe in a 2000 issue of Fine Cooking Magazine.  (In my house a lot of cooking magazines have come and gone, this one remains.)

Sweet Potatoes with heavy cream and grated horseradish, plus salt and pepper.  Sounds weird, but the taste is heavenly.  The horseradish becomes sort of "nutty" in flavor but remains reminiscent of its origins, the heavy cream becomes somewhat cheese-y/sweet tasting and the sweet potatoes/yams bring it all together.  YUM.

Use horseradish like this:  Zakuson Gourmet Horseradish and a flat baking dish like this: CorningWare SimplyLite 2-Quart Oblong Baking Dish.  My dish is vintage Corningware and any flat baking dish will do, but if you need something, Corningware is a workhorse which will not break the bank.


Other great cookbooks by this author which I refer to often:

From the Earth to the Table: John Ash's Wine Country Cuisine

The Wine Lover's Cookbook: Great Recipes for the Perfect Glass of Wine





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Stray Socks

Let someone else knit the sock.


Stray Sock Sewing: Making One of a Kind Creatures from Socks


Then make really cute sock toys.  These are only a few.  Simple, effective, creative results.


Velvet Rabbit: The White Album

My  version.  A gift for a friend who made my shoulder better.


The view from the back.




This adorable bunny


(photo from the book)


from Simple Knits for Little Cherubs called the "Velvet Rabbit" by Erika Knight.  The bunny pattern was pretty straightforward. All garter stitch.  I knit both front and back pieces at the same time to ensure that they were the same size. Same strategy as for sweater sleeves.  Also, when you are done, you are done, except for the arms, which are very quick.  The ear shaping works quite well.


The instructions for sewing up the bunny don't seem (no pun intended) as if they will work, but follow them and they do!  I'm making another one in Cascade Ecological Wool (a gift for the son of one of my knitting friends)..  This one was made using Cascade 220 Superwash since the recipients were busy parents.   


Note:  The pattern calls for Rowan Fine Chenille, which appears to be somewhere between fingering and DK weight yarn, using needles that are several sizes smaller than normally used for the yarn, (pattern calls for a US 1 needle, yarn recommends US 2-5 needles).  So, where I am going with this is:  Whatever yarn you choose to make this adorable bunny out of, go down several needle sizes from the recommended needle for the yarn.  What this produces is a fabric that is denser and more "velvet-y" (especially if you are using a chenille yarn or cotton yarn), it keeps the stuffing from showing through and helps keep the garter stitch from stretching too much.

Enough said.


And of course, this bib (free pattern)

before photos on the "board". Blocking makes a big difference when you are sewing together pieces that are supposed to be the same size.  I bought  this one

 and it makes all the difference.  It folds in half for easy storage and well, you can read about on Webs.  Enjoy.





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Friday, December 05, 2008

Bib Caterpillar

Put them together and you get:


A caterpillar of bibs.

Made for my friends David and Lisa's new twin boys from various yarns and patterns using my Button Knot Bib Pattern as a template.  Some Fibonacci striping (bottom row on the left) going on and a Barbara Walker  "String of Purls"  pattern (middle row on the left) from A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns.  You will recognize the first two patterns from Mason-Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitters' Guide: Stories, Patterns, Advice, Opinions, Questions, Answers, Jokes, and Pictures.




Monday, February 25, 2008

Frozen Shoulder, Spring Thaw

Along with the lengthening and warming days comes the thawing of my shoulder. Recently I noticed I couldn't move my right arm, (my knitting arm!!) with the same range of motion as my other arm. I also was experiencing aching pain. I won't go on and on but after a visit to my internist and a referral to a physical therapist the diagnosis was: Frozen Shoulder!!!! It turns out it is VERY COMMON in women of "my age"!

My first question to the physical therapist was, " Do I have to give up knitting?" Fortunately, no. But no "hunching" my shoulders so I have to hold my knitting way down in my lap.

All I can say to my fellow knitters is: beware! Read about frozen shoulder here and this book, The Frozen Shoulder Workbook and DVD, Frozen Shoulder are useful, too.

The therapy is slow but I am told the success rate is high and I haven't stopped knitting!


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Macaw Socks

First sock! I love the yarn.

This yarn... (click to see details)

I didn't come to this lightly. I read Knitting Rules!. I watched, Knitting Sock Techniques 1, Lucy Neatby a Knitter's Companion. Then I watched Knitting Sock Techniques 2, Lucy Neatby a Knitter's Companion!

It was a cold and rainy afternoon with the fireplace cranked up and a husband working in the other room. (These videos are really good). Lucy Neatby has so many good ideas, tips, techniques, and the video is clear and easy to follow. Watching her use those blunt birch needles (I am a devotee to Knitpicks' very pointy needles) was something else. And besides, anyone with raspberry and blue hair can't be anything but GOOD!

It's amazing how much fun it is to watch someone else knit!! I think my husband thought I was watching grass grow but it reminded me of watching cooking shows ;-D.

I also read Getting Started Knitting Socks, Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles, Socks 101, knitty's tutorial socks101, and looked at lots of sock patterns.

I purchased the needles, I purchased the yarn, but I just couldn't get started. Finally I started doing gauge swatches and that took an number of tries (this poor yarn probably got knitted 10 or 15 times before I was satisfied). And then I realized that I didn't know how to do the long tail cast on (a-r-r-g-g-h) so I had to find a website with a video to show me how to do THAT!!

This one worked for me:

So, after much reading and thinking and fiddling, I decided to stick with the basics and used Knitting Rules! (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot) basic sock pattern and the fun began...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Never Leave Home Without ...

I've been doing some traveling and hiking and here are some suggestions for what to take with you. Photos and commentary to follow soon.