Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Quick post today - getting ready to make PIES!!! For those of you interested, I am on the final crown decreases on my cabled hat and should post the pattern tomorrow. Now time for Old Family Photos!


This is my great grandmother Elizabeth Vawters with her fishing lode. She instilled a great love of fishing into the entire Vawters family, and I think it's genetic as I love to fish, too. My grandfather started taking me fishing when I was a little thing, so little that I don't remember the first time, and he was my fishing partner until he couldn't fish anymore.


She also was supposed to be an amazing gardener. My mom told me that she regularly took slips of flowers from cemeteries, grew large rose bushes from rose hips that she put under Mason jars to protect in the winter, and had a large medicinal herb garden that she made cures from on a regular basis. The green thumb gene seems to be passed down as well, although no matter how hard I've tried, I have never been able to accomplish the rose hip to rose bush trick.


My great grandfather Andy Vawters took a pretty active role in the garden as well. His perennial enemies were squirrels, which he called "tree rats" and stalked with a b. b. gun. They ate the fruit from his trees, you see. I've heard a story that he once was working on an area of the garden and accidentally killed a baby bunny; he cried for days. I guess the bunnies could eat the flowers and veggies, but no fruit eating on his watch!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Thanksgiving Menu, a.k.a., A Cornucopia of Recipes

I'll have 9 people to feed (and maybe more) this Thanksgiving. I serve a pretty traditional menu; we have no ethnic or regional specialties that go on the Thanksgiving buffet. I thought I'd share the menu with you.

michellepaints, photobucket

* Turkey - of course! The thing with turkey is figuring out how big of a turkey to buy. I read in a long forgotten magazine that you want 1-1/2 pounds of turkey per person. Seems like a lot, until you figure that they turkey has a carcass and you won't get all of the meat off of that carcass. So we have been gifted with a 15 pound turkey from the in-laws. The only way to bake a turkey is in a roaster bag at 325 F, and you can refer to this handy USDA chart for cooking times:

4 to 8 pounds (breast) 1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds 2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds 3¾ to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4½ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4½ to 5 hours

4 to 6 pounds (breast) Not usually applicable
6 to 8 pounds (breast) 2½ to 3½ hours
8 to 12 pounds 3 to 3½ hours
12 to 14 pounds 3½ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 4 to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4¾ to 5¼ hours


* Stuffing

I've always made stuffing the same way. Here's how I do it.

You'll need:
1 bag of cornbread stuffing mix.
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
enough chicken broth (we'll address this later)
2 eggs

Sautee the carrots, celery, and onion until the carrots start to get soft. Take off of the heat, add the stuffing mix. In a seperate bowl, add some chicken broth and the eggs, whisk. Add to the stuffing mix. Add more chicken broth until the stuffing is moist. Put in a greased baking dish and cook at 325 (see how that works - you can cook it with the turkey!) for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the stuffing is done in the middle.

vib8022, photobucket

* Green Bean Casserole

I use Campbell's Classic Green Bean Casserole recipe. I think that's all I have to say about that.

HannahBear105, photobucket

* Sweet Potato Casserole

I have bought frozen sweet potato casserole from Honey Baked Ham and it's really, really good. But it's also not too difficult to make it on your own.
Kim's Sweet Potato Casserole recipe on is exactly like the recipe I've been using for years (except I don't use marshmellows. You can make up your own mind about this addition). It's the one thing that my mom requests.


* Glazed Carrots

Glazed Carrots are so easy to make. They are so yummy. Once you figure out how easy they are to make, you'll find yourself making them for everyday meals.

You need:
1 pound carrots
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Peel and cut the carrots into bite-sized coins. Boil for 10 minutes or until just tender. Drain.

Melt butter in pan. Once melted, add brown sugar and stir until dissolved.

Add carrots and stir around to coat with glaze. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.

droidman, photobucket

* Potato Rolls

Save yourself some time, and buy them from the grocery store. Heat them in the microwave right before dinner for 10 seconds. Your guests will never know (as long as you hide the bag!).

pixiebones, photobucket

* Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

I'm not going to insult your intellegence here. I've been peeling and boiling and mashing potatoes for as long as I can remember. I think I'll do it this way, but I'm not sure. Of course, now there are many varieties of pre-made mashed potatoes that are just as great as home made. PLEASE don't used potato flakes! Oh, and I'm going to buy the gravy too.

lileuripop, photobucket

* PIE!!!

I'm thinking of baking my own this year, but I could just buy them, too. The menu calls for Pecan, Pumpkin, and Apple pie, lots of Redi-Whip, and Vanilla ice cream.

So are you loosening your belt just reading this? I hope you are.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I really don't feel like writing today. I've been reading all of these "writer's inspiration/method" books and they say that I should sit my butt down and write anyway. SO I'm taking published author's advice and doing a post.

It's not that I don't have anything to write about. I'm in the midst of making an adult sized William's hat so that I can work out the crown decrease and publish a pattern for it (my first published pattern!) I've been knitting so furiously over the past few days (4 new scarves, now this hat) that my right thumb feels sprained and my left hand is going numb when I knit. I think I'm giving myself carpal tunnel syndrome from knitting! But I have to say that the scarves are pretty good for using 35 needles and el-cheapo and recycled stash yarn. My daughter wants all of them.


Just a few of the scarves, and not the greatest picture, but you get the idea. I often use two different but coordinating yarns to create a chunky one. Also, you can use novelty eyelash and metallic thread yarns to other yarns to give them depth and that added zing. I'm knitting the hat with a recycled angora/wool maroon tweed. It looks so earthy and man-like (at least a man wouldn't cringe at the thought of wearing it).

I've also been refering back to a book that I have found endlessly handy from the moment that I branched out and started designing things myself. I know that there are a million stitch libraries out there, but I really like "Super Stitches Knitting" by Karen Hemingway. It has over 300 stitch patterns, and I've never had a pattern in mind that I wasn't able to locate in this book. I also like the way the swatches are photographed - like they are live works on the needles. I have a few other stitch libraries, but this is the one that I always come back to.

On the domestic front, Collin and Kendall were home sick today. They had a cough, sniffles, and Collin had this prickly rash all over his body. They slept for hours while Will and I chilled out in my room watching Spongebob and knitting and eating popcorn (or "pacrn" as Will likes to call it). Lovely day, all-in-all, especially since the kids seem to be better and are headed off to school tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Beautiful Grandparents/The Reason I learned to Knit

My Beautiful Grandparents

My grandparents died three years ago and I still can't believe that they are gone. They were such a huge part of my life, really like second parents. My grandmother taught me how to run a home, how to cook; I can't say she taught me how to clean, though, she didn't do much of that (have to thank mom for that one). My grandpa was my buddy. We fished together, talked and talked, he was a great cook, too. He'd give you the shirt off of his back, even if he was a bit of a curmudgeon. I love this picture of them.


When I look at it, I can hear my grandmother laughing and my grandfather's voice. I can smell his tobacco. I can feel her hands. I miss them.

O.K. I'm getting all choked up, so I'll tell you about

The Reason I learned to Knit

I was getting caught up on one of my favorite blogs, Hot Toast and Jam when I was reminded of why I learned to knit:


Yes, it was the Doctor's scarf. I grew up on Doctor Who, specifically Tom Baker. And I wanted one of those scarfs SO much. The first pattern that I looked up when I figured out how to knit was this scarf. But don't ask me to show my amazing Dr. Who scarf to you - I still haven't made one. I haven't been able to collect the correct colors - all in 100% wool because, come on, this scarf deserves 100% wool - all at one time. And do you have any idea how expensive all of those skeins of yarn would be? I think I'm going to have to start searching for sweaters to unravel with this project in mind. Cuz' I'm still yearning for that scarf.

If you, too, are now having nostalgic Dr. Who warm fuzzies and want to know everything there ever was to know about the Most Amazing Scarf Ever, the Doctor Who Scarf is a site that will fulfill your every desire. Scarf history, the author wearing THE scarf, it is all here. And, of course, there are instructions. I want to make the Season 16 scarf. So now I will end this post, which further clarifies that I am a geek. (I love you, Tom Baker!)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Beauty from scrub brush/Will's hat

Beauty from scrub brush

I gave myself a photographic assignment this week. It was "Find beauty where there seems to be none." So I went to the edge of Mill Creek (the muddy creek that runs through Marysville) where there was just a bunch of scrub and rocks, and opened up my eyes. Here's what I found.

Red berries

Little vine

Strange black berries

Tree trunk

Black berries

Mossy rock

Rose hips

Will's hat

I also got Will's hat almost done - just have to make some cords fro the ear flaps. He actually likes it and is very protective of it. He even got angry when I tried to take pictures of it. Maybe his head will actually stay warm this winter! (by the way - this is supposed to be normal sized font, but blogger is not cooperating. Oh blogger, why must you vex me so?)

The (almost finished) hat

Will doesn't want me to take pictures him

Close-up of my improvised cable pattern

So that's mostly it for now. Am feverishly knitting scarves for a craft show we may be participating in. Luckily, it seems that chunky knits are the in thing, so I can crank out about two a day using 35 needles. Will share a few of my creations later (when I'm not quite so tired!).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

In Which I Sell Out and Want a Camera

So, yes, I've signed up with Amazon Affiliates. I tried Adsense, but I was always getting ads for swimming pools and flip flops; not really the type of thing I write about on my site. Another plus is that if I find a book that is really rockin' I can link to it on the site. I've linked to Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (I can't tell you how much I truly LOVE this book) and might add a few more links in the future. So yes, I've sold out. But I figure if I can augment our household income by advertising books and items that are really great, why not?

I ask you, if the Who can do it, why can't I?

In the "I Want It" category, I have added a Holga camera. These are cheap (they start at $30 and the highest is $100 - and this is a 3D camera with 2 lenses) 120 and 35 mm cameras that are manufactured in China and were originally meant for lower income Chinese (so that they could have a camera). But then people from other countries discovered them and found that they take the most amazing pictures. I want the 35mm version simply because the film is easier to handle than 120 film.

by findstuff 22,

soccerfan201, photobucket

lindseyb777, photobucket

They allow you to play with exposure times, focus, etc. and have fish eye lenses, filters, and other accessories that you can buy to add to your camera. I kind of miss my old 35mm and the thrill that I got when I went to the drugstore to pick up my photos and see what I got. So I'm going to request one from my husband for Christmas. I'll keep you updated!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

William's Hat/Your Doctor Wants You To Knit

William's Hat

So I am knitting a new hat. This one is for William. The thing about being a toddler is that your head keeps getting bigger so the hat that fit last year is tiny this year. I've got it around half done. I'm knitting it on the round (yes, I'm using a circular again, and I have to tell you that the Susan Bates Velocity needles are so much nicer to knit with than the Clover) and I've kind of improvised a cable pattern that runs for around 5 inches and the rest will be a 4:2 rib. I'm not going to gather the top; instead I'm going to sew it shut in a straight line that will run from left to right. It will have ear flaps with ties, and I might put little pom poms on the corners of the top, but I'm not sure. I should have it done soon, just in time for the cold and me to take a picture of it to share with you and, of course, for William to refuse to wear it.

Holga image by lexistibitz on

Your Doctor Wants You to Knit

I have been knitting like a fool lately, in large part because it calms me down. You've seen the posts on Ravelry and news groups with titles like "Knitting Keeps Me Sane" and the like, and I can attest to it's Zen-like powers. Ever being the scientist I wondered about this, and if any studies had been done on the therapeutic powers of knitting. It turns out that none other than the Harvard Medical School Mind/Body Institute found that while people are knitting they actually can enter into a meditative state leading to a heart rate decrease of up to 11 beats per minute and a drop in blood pressure. Cool, huh? If you want to read more here's the press release from Lion Brand Yarns.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Saddest Sweater/I'm Having Problems with Faith

The Saddest Sweater

I have a lot of old pictures of my family. I have a few photos of people who I have never met. Some are beautiful, some are cute, some make you feel like you are looking at an issue of Life magazine.

This one is of a girl I don't know and my mom (the little one). I love this photo because in addition to my mom being so darn cute, check out that sweater! One side is longer than the other, the button holes are not lines up with the buttons; this may be the saddest sweater that ever lived.
I'm Having Problems with Faith

I've been feeling very contemplative lately. In keeping with the "authentic self" discussion, I've been trying to answer questions like "what defines me," and "what do I strive for." I realized that had I asked these questions of myself a few years ago, the answers would be completely different. As a family, we have gone through several years that I can only describe as incredibly difficult, surreal, and life-changing. We have gone from moderately financially well off to food stamp recipients, my husband has sustained a disability that has left him unable to work. 3 of my grandparents died. I have faced legal issues that have tried my sanity. You know, stuff happened and it seemed to happen all at once and it all made absolutely no sense. Oh, and just so you know, last week was BAD for me. I was yelling at everyone, touchy and jumpy, I didn't know what the bejeebers was going on with me (and no, it was not PMS).

Today, I took Brenda Dayne's advice and got my free audio book from It took me a while to decide on a title, but I finally chose Phillip Yancey's Disappointment With God. I consider his What's So Amazing About Grace one of my top ten books - he writes about difficult topics in a refreshing, real way. I have been talking to trusted people in my church about the fact that I'm just not feeling anything anymore when I go to church, participate in church activities, etc. My husband has pointed out to me, and I would have to agree, that God has met our every need. Money has come from places that we didn't expect, we have never wanted for food or other necessities, and we have parents who have made sure that we are clothed and have a little fun.


When this all started, I'd be the first to pray for someone, volunteer for a church activity, or help a neighbor in need. But when our lives took a serious and rapid u-turn, I prayed and prayed and got no answers. I felt alone. I knew there was a God, I just didn't think he cared about me. There was a huge part of me that felt like I had spent my entire life trying to emulate Jesus, to do the right thing, and I had given myself wholly to Him. If that was the case, why did we have to go through such difficult times? My friends started calling me Jobess and said that they hoped I wouldn't become infected with boils. Seriously (they are a little twisted). I stopped going to church for a while, but I missed the people. When I went back, I found that I felt nothing. The experience seemed empty. I felt dull in a way that I never had.

It is getting better. But I would lie if I still didn't find myself silently screaming to God "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?" Why can't I feel him anymore? Why do the songs that meant so much to me feel hollow?


I've been told that this all will pass. That if I just keep with it and go through the motions that some of those old feelings will creep in. But this answer just seems too simple and trite for me. So I'm hoping that Yancey will help me to understand what I'm dealing with a little better.

I only write about these things because I know that many others suffer with the same thoughts, the same feelings. I've talked to countless Christians who have told me that they either have had a period like this in their life or they, too, were experiencing this. It always helps me to know that I am not alone.

O.K. So that's enough of the serious for today. I'm starting a new hat for Will; I'll tell you about it in my next post.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Unveiling The Hat/And Now For Something Completely Different/And Finally

Unveiling The Hat

The hat is finally done! It took me longer than expected for a variety of reasons:


* I was stitching a cable pattern that I created and had never stitched before. This meant a lot of referring back to my chart to make sure I was doing things right. Alas, I still got the cabling wrong, but it still looks good.


* I didn't figure out the correct number of stitches to cast on, which meant that I had to creatively add stitches to get the pattern correct. It was a happy accident, however, and I am going to modify the pattern so that the brim begins with fewer stitches and then add stitches to create the diamond pattern that the add-on stitches did.


* My circular sucked. The join was very bad and I constantly had to stop to guide more stitches onto the live needle. I have since bought a circular that is supposed to have a better join; alas, they are not Addi Turbos (Jo-Ann doesn't carry them) but the join feels much smoother than the Clover circular that I was using.

Not to get off track, but I am starting to see the merits of circular needles. I like that there aren't 6 needle ends poking out of the work (ala dpns) that perennially get in the way of what you are trying to accomplish. I bought a size 2 circular to knit socks, too.

So that's the hat. If you want to buy it, I'll be listing it on my store, Howard Knits, soon.

And Now For Something Completely Different


I took this picture last Friday during Columbus's Veteran's Day Parade. My grandpa Herb Seelbach was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame that day, and he was going to ride in the parade. He is 93, and when he saw that the car that he would ride in was a convertible, he decided that it wasn't the best idea for him to ride in a convertible on a slightly chilly day. This gentleman served in Korea and saluted all of the soldiers as they passed by. It gave me little tinglies and made me feel quite patriotic.

Grandpa was in the Navy and served on the Admiralty Islands during WWII; among other things, he helped with the soldiers hurt fighting in the Pacific theater. But his real claim to fame was his musical skill. He plays trumpet, alto sax, and clarinet and performed with Bob Hope and Frances Langford when they came to the islands with the USO (I have a great photo of this, but I can't find it!). He would have joined them on tour had disease not cut his military career short. After an honorable discharge he taught music for over 30 years for the Youngstown Schools (where he also taught his five children, my dad included, to play at least one instrument), conducted over 125 Broadway caliber shows at the W.D. Packard Music Theater of Warren, OH, and toured with the likes of Tommy Dorsey and his own band, Herb Seelbach's Dixieland Jazz Band. He worked with stars such as Robert Goulet, Shirley McClain, Andy Williams, really all the luminaries of the stage from the 1960's through the 80's. His legacy is bringing music to his community, as a teacher, conductor, and musician. He has inspired so many people - my cousin Renee taught music on a Navaho reservation for many years, we met someone at the swanky Inductees dinner who he taught trumpet to, the list goes on and on. He doesn't seem to want to be remembered for all of the Hollywood sparkle that is all over his resume; rather, he relishes that he taught and inspired so many young people to play and appreciate music.

And Finally . . .

This is a picture that Will took of me knitting (The Hat before it was done). I really like it. It feels real to me and the light is wonderful. My two-year-old takes better photos than I do!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Channeling Stephanie

Pearl-McPhee, that is. If you don't know who Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is, you can check out her wonderful website, Yarn Harlot, and please do pick up one of her books. She's one of those knitting gurus who also is really funny. Anyhow, I'm reading her book, Knitting Rules! (actually, I carry it with me everywhere. It has basic sock, hat, scarf, etc, patterns, tons of tips - like the average size of a 1 year old's head - and gives me something to read when I don't want to do anything else.) Anyhow, on page 98, she says this:

"Sometimes when I'm knitting I watch my hands very carefully. I highly recommend this. I've been knitting for a lot of years and I've made probably millions of stitches, but I can still be taken by surprise when I just watch my hands."


So yesterday, I did this. I was on this section of the hat that had a few rows where no fancy cabling had to be done; I could just stitch and pay attention to my hands. I knew that I didn't hold my yarn like all the books tell you to, I just grip it with my pinkie, ring and middle finger of my left hand, which probably slows me down a bit. Try as I might, I just can't switch to "the right way." But I didn't know that when I knit, the yarn rides over my pointer finger and when I purl I quickly switch the yarn so that it rides under my thumb. And with my right hand, when I knit, I use my pointer finger to first pull the live stitch off; when I purl, my right thumb does this job. There's a lot more, but it was really interesting to watch my hands work. When you've been knitting for a while, your hands just know what to do, no thought is involved. It's a visceral thing; I've come to the point where I really dont have to watch what I'm doing when I'm working on a stockingette or garter stitch. But my hands did these intricate motions that I wasn't even aware of. It was cool. Thanks, Stephanie!

Blog Resolution #1:

Adding to my previous post (which I don't know how I can duplicate - I got SO much positive feedback), I have made a few resolutions. The first resolution came courtesy of Erin Wallace (yes, we share a name!) of Bluebirdbaby, this amazingly wonderful blog featured in Artful Blogging. Erin did this wonderful series of posts called "30 Days of Happiness" where she took pictures of times that made her happy and wrote about them. I'm not going to try to duplicate this, as I have always felt it a recipe for disaster when you try to remake something that is already so near to perfection. But what I did like was the idea of taking pictures of things that make you happy. So I've made the resolution to take a picture a day, whether it's good or bad, in an effort to take better pictures. I'm considering taking a community photography class. I don't have a Big Fancy camera and my pictures seem to be perennially fuzzy. I also love photos that have a darkened, aged quality, or those that seem to have that filtered light quality. I predict that the majority of the first pictures that I take won't end up on this blog, but here's my first, that I highly edited using photobucket. It's ok. It certainly isn't what I'm shooting for, but again, it's all a learning process, isn't it?


Now, this photo I LOVE. I copied it to my album on photobucket, and I don't know who to credit it to. But I'd love to know how to take a picture like this. . .


or like this


So that's Resolution #1. Stay tuned for more progress!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Building a Better Blog

I'm constantly striving to improve my blog. While killing time during Kendall's 3 hour marathon that is synchronized skating practice I happened upon the newest edition of Artful Blogging. I generally read it and leave feeling overwhelmed at the huge number of amazing blogs that are out there - which then leaves me feeling shut down as a writer. This time was different - there were so many blogs that I connected with, writers that seemed to be expressing the ideas and thoughts that I want to get across. I started making lists of ideas, wrote what I can only call a journal entry (which is totally out of character for me - while I'm keeping up with the blog, I could never journal - I know, it makes no sense), and started to formulate a path for where I want Dropped Stitches to go. Here's a bit of what I came up with:

* Reveal my authentic self
* Quit trying to build numbers (while still trying to market) - embrace the readership that I have. People are reading. Focus more on the process and less on the numbers.
* Watch the world around me with more focus
* Try not to be so analytical - don't let my brain get in the way so much
* Don't worry SO much about offending - don't be overly PC (which refers back to the authentic self)
* Let it flow

photo by karlatina444,

So this isn't the whole list and I haven't really elaborated (I may in the future) because I want more time to reflect on what these thoughts really mean. I started this out, quite frankly, to make money. I found a way to express myself, talk about knitting, family, cooking, and whatever else came to mind, and I'm feeling now that even though I still want to talk about these things, there is so much more of the world to explore.

So that's all. I've got to think now, which is the difficult, and sometimes painful, part. But that's what Imitrex is for!

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