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Tips For Grooming A Woolly-Coated Siberian Husky

1. You will need a rake, a pin comb with spinning tines, a pin brush, and lots of alcohol (for you, not the dog).
2. You will need to have three hours, free of interruption. And more alcohol than you originally set on the table.
3. If your woolly is anything like mine, you will also need a leash or grooming table to prevent escapes. Also, more alcohol.
4. You will need a working knowledge of four letter words that are not suitable for young ears. If you don’t have any such knowledge, trust me, you will when you have finished grooming your dog, and you will probably have invented a few. This will happen with or without alcohol.
5. Leash the dog.
6. I start with the comb. Woollies mat like you would not believe. If you groomed him yesterday, he is matted today. Don’t believe me? Get your hands in there.
7. The left side will take an hour with the comb, from head to tail. Start drinking now.
8. In fifteen minutes, the four letter words will start coming. Coo them sweetly. No sense in traumatizing your dog. Drink some more.
9. Be ambidextrous. There is no way you will get through this one-handed. Your arms WILL get tired, and you’re just getting started. Yes, you can have another drink. Pour some for me too.
10. By the time you finish with the left side, you should have invented a few four letter words of your own. Flip the dog, or move around him.
11. Continue with the pin comb, the drinking, and the swearing on the right side. I know, you’ve never seen this much fur come off of one dog in one session in your life. Welcome to woollies.
12. You are now two hours into a three hour session. Give the dog a break, and have a really big drink for yourself. Do not share with the dog.
13. Now comes the rake. No matter how much fur you already have off to the side, your pile is about to triple in size. The comb gets a lot, but it has nothing on the rake. This will take about 45 minutes. One more drink.
14. Now you get to the tail, and the pin brush. Best of luck. Have another drink first.
15. Finish off by raking, then combing the tail. You may or may not have any alcohol left. You definitely have a beautiful dog, though he may not appreciate it. Mine doesn’t.
Congratulations! You have just groomed a woolly-coated Sibe and gained enough fur to coat two more dogs. If you have any alcohol left after this experience, enjoy it as you clean up the fur.

All this being said, in all seriousness, if you have a woolly-coated Sibe, or any other double-coated dog, please do not have him shaved because it’s summer and you think he’ll be cooler. Nothing could be further from the truth. That double coat keeps him cooler than shaving will, by trapping the air close to the skin. Also, the skin of your double-coated dog doesn’t know what the sun is except by vague description. His skin wasn’t meant to be exposed to sun, and he will very likely get sunburned. No, I am not kidding. Yeah, some of the cuts are cute, but your dog will be happier if you leave his fur alone and let him hang out in the house where it’s cooler.

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MIB

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This does not stand for Men In Black. This stands for Missing In Blogging. I’d been trying to do better in keeping up on my blog, but, three weeks ago, the girls and I were involved in a car accident. I can’t really discuss it, as there are attorneys involved and such. Suffice it to say, my truck was totaled. The girls are physically fine, thanks to all benevolent gods, and I just got rid of my splint yesterday, for the most part. So I can type again, and with any luck, I’ll soon have something to blog about again! Don’t give up on me!

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The Ups and Downs of Life

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Yesterday pretty much covered that title. It was definitely an interesting day.

It began with my arrival at school. As I’m waiting to turn left into the parking lot, a woman in a Honda SUV coming from the other direction turns right into the parking lot ahead of me and parks next to the smoking area, where several of my classmates are hanging out. No big deal. I park a few spaces over and get out of my truck to walk over and join them. As I’m passing this woman’s car, she reverses into me. I’m screaming and pounding on her back window while backpedaling for all I’m worth, which isn’t nearly enough as my hip isn’t limber enough for quickstepping, and my classmates are also screaming at her. She never stopped. I finally got out from behind her, and she’s still going, continuing to back up until she bounces over the curb and very nearly takes out another classmate’s car. She looks at me as though I’ve lost my mind and drives away. ??!!! She never stopped. She never acknowledged me. Never asked if I was all right. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Amazingly, despite full-body contact with the back end of her car, I haven’t fallen over yet. I really should have, and then called an attorney. I just filed an incident report with the school and continued on with my day.

Then, after school, I got to go to work. Yes, I finally got a job, the first one I’ve had since getting pregnant with Aneira! Well…the first job outside the home anyway…I do plenty of working inside the home! It is a veterinary clinic, which is good, but it wasn’t the clinic I wanted. Still, it’s a job, and it has pretty good benefits, and I don’t have to stay there forever, but I’m going to run with it for now. The vet is pretty cool, and so is the receptionist, and I haven’t talked much to the other techs yet, so we’ll see. They seem nice, though. And gods, did my feet hurt after being on them for four hours straight! I haven’t done that in over ten years, and I’m not as young as I was then! I hobbled out to my truck, where hubby and the girls were waiting for me, and immediately went to the passenger side. I never do that. It’s my truck; if it’s moving, I’m driving, but not yesterday!! Yesterday, I just wanted my shoes off!!!

Lastly, I think I’ve got the design of the crochet hook case conquered (say that three times, fast)! So far, I’ve got two of the ten pockets done, and they fit my Crochet Lite hooks beautifully! I’m trying to write it down as I go, so I can repeat the experiment and make sure it really does work, but I’ve never written a pattern before, so we’ll see how that goes. This part is only the interior; I’ve still got to figure out what I want to do for the outer cover that won’t be a copy of someone else’s design, since I’d like to put it on Etsy if it works!

So that’s my day in a nutshell. A hell of a day, wasn’t it?!

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Design Battle

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The case from Priscilla's pattern

The case from Priscilla’s pattern

Sorry that I’ve been MIA recently; I’ve been trying my hand at designing, and it isn’t going very well!

Previously, I said that I’d bought a full set of Cornerstone Crochet Lite hooks, and the more I use them, the more I like them, though I have yet to have to use the light up feature (hubby, on the other hand, discovered them the other day and had a lovely time playing with the LED lights. Boys. Sigh). Well, I wanted to find a case for them to protect them. They’re a bit more breakable than my usual aluminum hooks, but they have those big ergonomic handles, which has presented me with a problem. Searching for cases to fit hooks with ergonomic handles has shown me that either they don’t exist, unless they come with the set to begin with, or I haven’t figured out the correct search terms. Either way, no dice.

That failure led me down another path, which was to make my own case. There are tons of patterns available for that. Unfortunately, the ones that I saw that fit the ergonomic handles didn’t have pockets, which is my preference. They always had bands, which I don’t really like. I like the security of an actual pocket.

did make one case, from a pattern by Priscilla Hewitt of priscillascrochet.net. I love the pattern, but it’s only suitable for the normal aluminum handled hooks. When I tried mashing one of the Crochet Lite hooks into the pocket, the pocket flipped the switch on the hook because it was entirely too tight. So now I’m trying to figure out a way to make a case where the pockets are wide enough to comfortably fit the hooks without turning them on every time I put them away. Never having designed anything before, this is turning out to be harder than I thought it would be, and gives me more respect for those who design a pattern and make it look easy. It is so not.

I’ve downloaded the patterns of several cases I really liked that I will probably make for my regular hooks just because they’re so pretty, not because there’s any

The almost-finished case open, filled with aluminum hooks

The almost-finished case open, filled with aluminum hooks

actual need for them. Cases are like purses to me: just because you have one purse that holds everything you want in it doesn’t mean that you don’t occasionally want to change it out for another that is equally functional but has a different look (I have a serious weakness for purses. Specifically, big shoulder bags made of nice, buttery soft leather…mmmmmmm…)!

It’s mainly figuring out how the stitching will work best, so I’m still fighting with it. Most of the patterns involved only double and single crochet, but that won’t work for my lovely hooks and their chunky handles. Treble crochet, at least with the yarn I’m working with, is far too open and has too much drape when what I need is stiffness. I’ll keep working on it. If anyone has any ideas – please, none that involve sewing! – I’d be happy to hear them!

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Thirty Lashes With A Wet Noodle

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Lighting up my life!

Lighting up my life!

My eighth grade math teacher, Sr. Liliette, used to say this when we got something wrong in her class that should have been obvious, and clearly it made an impression, as I still remember it – and her – all these years later. I won’t say how many years later it is; suffice it to say that it’s a few years!

I’m now saying it to myself, because I did something I shouldn’t have done just at this time. You might remember that I have a thing for fiber arts tools. I love them. I can’t help myself. And, well, I found this great deal on a full set of the Crochet Lite hooks I mentioned in an earlier post, from size C all the way up to K. How could I pass up a good deal? Especially one that was unlikely to be repeated? Yes, I bought the set. And despite the fact that I shouldn’t have, I can’t say I regret that I did. When I looked for full sets, I was finding them at $140 or more, not including shipping or taxes. I found the full set for a bit under half that price.

They’re really cute!!! The LED lights are very bright, the handles fit my palm nicely; they’re very nice. There are some downsides, though. The actual hook being plastic, I can see them breaking off if used too hard. Gentle is the order of the day with these. The yarn doesn’t slip along the hook as nicely as it does with my aluminum hooks, either. It’s actually noticeably squeaky. The last two problems were noted in the reviews: the sizes aren’t true. Starting from size E, the hooks are actually larger by one than the stated size. So an E with these is an F everywhere else. And there was a battery issue as well, as in the batteries weren’t quite making connection. I took a small piece of index card, folded it in half, laid it over the batteries (three batteries per hook), and put the lid back on. Connection made.

Overall,  the cons are pretty minor in my opinion, as long as you’re aware of them. The only other complaint I have is that there is no case for them. When you buy a full set, each hook is packaged individually, and the ergonomic handles means that traditional cases, like the Clover striped case, are out of the question. I haven’t yet been able to find a case for them, so they may not exist anywhere, and I may have to make one. Given my sewing abilities – or lack thereof – that could be a fairly interesting project, and I don’t mean interesting in a good way! So for now, I will continue to look for a case.

In other crochet news, I have all of the small spikes and wings done for both of the Night Furies presently made, and am working on the horns and ears now. There will soon be two complete Night Furies.

As I’d mentioned before, I made most of the pieces before starting assembly this time, and still have not achieved perfection. The first problem I had was that I didn’t stuff the legs and wing arms as I went along, because work still needed to be done on the exteriors of those parts before they were stuffed. The wings had to be crocheted into place along the wing arms, and toes had to be added to the legs. I had hoped that following the pattern to  the letter this time would lessen the obvious mistakes. It did not. Stuffing the wing arms was a nightmare. I had to use the hook and insert it at the closed end of the arm to slide up and hook the polyfill to bring it all the way down. In the process, the wing arms stretched once the fill was in, opening up, once again, space between stitches and making the fill visible. Grrrr. Not really sure what to do about that or even what I’m doing wrong. I’m sure Bryony won’t care one bit, but I do!

I’m also considering dyeing my hair again, and I have two choices: dyeing it back to its natural color, or dyeing it silver, since it’s headed in that direction anyway. I jokingly mentioned that last to a younger friend the other day, and she stopped me in my tracks by informing me that that’s a thing now. Lots of young women out there whose hair is as silver-white as any older woman who’s earned her grey. Who knew???  I’m tempted to do it myself, simply because I won’t have to worry about touching up the roots every other week, because my hair is now more salt than pepper anyway, which annoys me because I think the grey arrived way too early. But if it’s a thing now, well, I might as well take advantage of it. I know they have apps for buying glasses that enable you to see what you’d look like in various frames by uploading your picture; I’m wondering if they have anything similar for dyeing your hair. Anyone know?

Well, I’d better get to cooking dinner and doing homework…and refereeing the latest fight between two girls. Sigh.

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Back to Dragons, or, The Saga of Toothless

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The start of a jewel-toned Night Fury

The start of a jewel-toned Night Fury

I haven’t finished hubby’s black Toothless yet, but I decided to get a jump on things and start on Bryony’s this past weekend. She decided on this magenta-blue-purple variegated yarn, very jewel-toned, and very pretty once you start it working. Admittedly, I had my doubts about it at first, but I’m liking the look now. I got the two pieces for the head done, as well as the wings and wing arms, and am working on the body now. Since we are not going with black, the story is now that all male Night Fury dragons are black, and the females come in all kinds of different colors. This will be the explanation for anyone who teases the girls about having Toothlesses (???) that are not the proper color.

I’m trying things a bit differently this time, such as not assembling as I go along. This time I’m going to make all the pieces and then assemble them at the end. Also, I discovered that the reason I had all the quite-visible gaps in the black one is because as I’m crocheting in the round, I need to tug the working yarn after each stitch as I go. I wasn’t doing that, which doesn’t appear to make a difference when I’m crocheting flat, but apparently when I work in the round, I somehow manage to loosen each stitch as I go around. So far, it appears to be working. It’s not a sharp tug, either, just a slight one to tighten up the stitch just a tiny bit.

Another thing I’m taking great pleasure in is the ability to see my stitches! You cannot imagine the joy this gives me! I’m giving serious consideration to buying the lighted crochet hooks for the next time I do anything in black. I thought the lighted hooks were an amusing novelty item when I saw them on Amazon, but I’m rethinking my position now. They might have actually helped when working on hubby’s dragon. If you click on the link, you’ll see that they’re a bit pricey, but I’m really thinking they’d be worth it for the next time I’m working with a dark yarn.

In other news, I passed Pharmacology and Surgical Nursing. It was by the skin of my teeth, but it was a pass, and at this point, I’ll take it. I wanted to do a lot better in the grades department, but I’m finding out that I don’t test well. I can study from now till doomsday, but the second I find myself in a testing position, my brain shuts off. It doesn’t matter if the test is written or oral. I get nervous, and I’m done for. So as long as I keep my grades above a C, I’ll graduate, but after that comes the Test Of All Tests, also known as the VTNE, the Veterinary Technicians National Exam, which is essentially national boards. Passing is 75%, and the fee to take the test is $300…each time you take it. I am thoroughly dreading that test, and my plan is to take it as soon as possible after graduating, while everything still remains fairly fresh in my brain, as it were.

You know what? Let’s not even discuss this. I can feel the terror mounting even thinking about it. My blood pressure is high enough, thanks. Let’s go back to crafty stuff.

I’m also thinking about trying out another doubleweave blanket on my Flip. It’s been awhile since I’ve woven anything, and longer still since I’ve woven on the Flip at all. Since the last doubleweave disaster, I put it away and haven’t touched it. I think I’d like to get her out again. She’s not ideal for blanket weaving, with only a 25″ weaving width, but my big floor loom is long gone, and I miss her. I’ll never see a deal that sweet again. Anyway.

I also need to resume spinning all the Sibe fur for the rescue and get it back to them. Any spinners out there who’d like to donate their services in a good cause? Please comment and I’ll put you in touch with people who would be very grateful for it. If you know a spinner, please pass the word. As a matter of fact, if you want to donate some time or anything else to a rescue, whether you’re crafty or not, comment and let me know. You don’t even need to be local. I can probably put you in touch with someone no matter where you are, and the rescue groups are always grateful for any help they can get. So are the pups they support!

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Cooking Tip #439

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Know when to stop tweaking it. It seems simple, and it is, in a way.

There’s a dish my family loves: Dijon Tarragon Chicken. I got it from Food Network years ago; I think it was a Rachael Ray recipe. I love to cook, and I love good food, and no one can afford to eat out all of the time, so if you want to eat good food all of the time, that’s the best possible combination, because you are going to have to cook that food for yourself.

This dish came out of desperation. No one in my family is a huge fan of poultry. We are red meat fans, through and through, but I also know that you can’t eat red meat all of the time. Well, I could, but it wouldn’t be healthy.

Not being keen on it, whenever my mother cooked chicken, as a child I avoided the kitchen. Not seeing the big picture, i.e. having a family of my own someday, I didn’t see the point of learning to cook it if I wasn’t going to ever make it. This is the shortsightedness of childhood. I learned to cook my favorite meals from Mom, and ignored the rest. Fortunately, when it came time to cook for my own family, I realized I had absorbed more than I’d thought, such as the necessity for variety. Or maybe it was the simple fact that I was good and tired of red meat at the time, and wanted something different.

No matter what it was, I was not good at cooking chicken. Mom didn’t fry things either, so this was yet another thing I didn’t – and still don’t – know how to do. If you eat fried chicken at my house, and it’s actually pretty good, I can guarantee you it came from a box, or the deli counter at the supermarket. It certainly didn’t come from me. Can we say food poisoning? No, really, it would be.

But the recipe I found was extremely simple to follow, and it was a hit. Boneless chicken breast, boiled in chicken broth, then you pour the broth into a bowl, put the breast in another one, and make a…roux, I guess is the correct word…with butter and flour. Then you add Dijon mustard to it, and the tarragon leaves, stir, put the chicken back in the pot and simmer while making rice to be served as the bed beneath it. Delicious, and a bit rich.

I’ve made this meal many times over the past ten years, and once I had the recipe memorized, I started tweaking it. First I wanted more sauce out of the recipe: when you’re serving it over rice, a lot gets absorbed right away, so there was never enough sauce to flavor everything, and honestly, I could happily eat the sauce alone, it’s that good. So the first thing I did was double up on the amount of sauce that I would make with the chicken. Then I discovered that the entire family liked the chicken shredded over the rice, so I started doing that. And then we wanted the buttery flavor of the sauce increased, so another stick of butter was added to the recipe. And finally, by accident, we discovered that by tossing everything into a pot and adding more water, leftovers made an awesome chicken soup.

At that point, I stopped meddling with the recipe. I can’t think of any way to make it taste better, and I’m afraid to try adding my usual go-to items, which are garlic, onions, and bell peppers. I think this is the only recipe in my arsenal that doesn’t use any of those three.

So that’s my tip for today: know when to stop before you ruin a delicious meal. And thank you to Rachael Ray and Food Network!

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