Saturday, May 23, 2009

50 Greatest TV Shows

Empire Magazine has revealed its list of the 50 Greatest TV Shows ever.

1. Bold the shows you watch/used to watch.
2. Italicize the shows you’ve seen at least one episode of.
3. Underline the shows you own on DVD (at least one season).
4. Post your answers.

50. Quantum Leap
49. Prison Break
48. Veronica Mars
47. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
46. Sex & The City
45. Farscape
44. Cracker
43. Star Trek
42. Only Fools and Horses
41. Band of Brothers
40. Life on Mars (UK version only)
39. Monty Python
38. Curb Your Enthusiasm
37. Star Trek: The Next Generation
36. Father Ted
35. Alias
34. Frasier
33. CSI Las Vegas
32. Babylon 5
31. Deadwood
30. Dexter
29. ER
28. Fawlty Towers
27. Six Feet Under
26. Red Dwarf
25. Futurama
24. Twin Peaks
23. The Office
22. The Shield
21. Angel
20. Blackadder
19. Scrubs
18. Arrested Development
17. South Park
16. Dr Who
15. Heroes
14. Firefly
13. Battlestar Galactica
12. Family Guy
11. Seinfeld
10. Spaced
09. The X-Files
08. The Wire
07. Friends
06. 24
05. Lost
04. The West Wing
03. The Sopranos
02. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
01. The Simpsons

I think I watch too much TV!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Baby's got a new pair of shoes

OK, don't get all excited. They're not Manola Blahnik's, but I like them.
Purple Crocs!!
What's not to like?
They're PURPLE!!
We were in Killarney on Saturday, doing our duty by donating a bunch of stuff to St Vincent de Paul's, and we stopped in at the outlet center for coffee...well, coffee for Peter. In the outlet center is a Low Alpine store. These stores sell a lot of hiking, biking and camping gear. And they just got in a new shipment of Crocs. I saw the purple ones from outside the shop, halfway across the center! They've always sold lavender, but this is the first time I've ever seen the dark purple ones. I already have a pair of orange Crocs, and dad sent a pair of chefs Crocs in black a while back. So, now I have THREE pairs of Crocs. One day I'll have a rainbow collection of the bloody things! ;-)
I'm feeling very girly at the moment. This time last year, I had three pairs of shoes...Reeboks, dress shoes and mountain boots. Now, I practically need a separate room for my shoes!
Speaking of husband travels a few times of year for work. He's recently traveled into Germany, France and England, but most recently he went to Amsterdam. Unfortunately, I never get to go with him, but he's a real sweetheart and always brings me something to make up for me having to stay home alone.
I made a joke when he was leaving this time that I wanted a pair of clogs, since he was going to Holland...technically North Holland. And when he came back he brought me a clog alright!
In Holland, souvenir shops sell ceramic clog planting pots that are filled with seasonal bulbs. They're health

certified for taking back to the United States and Canada, too. Obviously, there's no way all of the ten bulbs will fit in this planter, but the overall item is a great way to remember your trip to Holland!
In my case, tulips are out of season now, but my clog was full of Gladiolus's. I wish our shed was in now so I could plant the glad's around it. They grow up to about four feet in height and would make a great statement against the side of the shed. What I'll end up doing it putting them into a big pot, then next season I'll transfer the bulbs into the ground.

And since I'm talking about plants...again...I have to share this picture.
This time last year dad and his lady friend visited us again. When they went home, I sent them with a couple clippings from our blackcurrant bushes.
When we bought our house in 2001 we took a walk around our property. I found a great tree with these amazing leaves on it. I thought they'd look very pretty in a vase of water in the house so I snipped a few. About a week later, the cuttings had sprouted roots. I eventually planted them in pots, the into the ground. Then they started to bloom and fruit. I took a clipping to our favorite garden center, Griffin's Garden Centre, and was told it was indeed a blackcurrant and not a tree. Cool!
Getting back to "the folks," last year they took a couple clippings home. They were literally just a couple sticks wrapped in damp papertowels and protected in a ZipLock bag. Once home, they put the clippings into a vase of water and waited for them to sprout. Tah-dah! They now have a plant that's about four feet tall, as you can see here.
And I'm embarrassed to admit that their plant looks healthier than ours do! But we have more fruit :-) BUT, their bush is only a year old, so it has time to mature and really get its fruit on!
"The folks" love the stories they bring back with them from Ireland. After their first trip, when they brought back a few rocks and some daffodil bulbs, and now this trip with their blackcurrants, they have loads to talk about with their friends. Each rock and the daffodils have their own stories, and now the blackcurrants with theirs.
In the case with the blackcurrants, the original bush at the back of our property was actually part of an old garden! Our property from was originally part of a much larger piece of land owned by a local family and dates back many, many decades. The blackcurrant was the last of the plants in the original garden. Between the blackcurrants in the garden and the wild blackberries, the family had gallons of berries for preserves. We collected twelve pounds of blackberries two years ago and made jam and we're STILL going through it.
Watch for a post on making blackberry jam at the end of September!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Sweater Saga and a Choke Update

A couple years ago I participated in a Secret Santa gift giving program through the Irish Knitters Group on Ravelry. It was my first time doing something like this and really enjoyed it.

My secret pal, Aileen, sent me a lovely package that included fabulous pair of huge Fair Trade buttons. They're white ceramic that have been hand-painted with cobalt blue. Where the layers overlap it looks vaguly purply-teal. Really pretty, as you can see. But two buttons didn't seem like enough, so I bought a few more. Love em! I also bought some heart shaped ones in the same color and style, but that's another topic!
Since receiving the package I've been looking for just the right yarn to make a cardigan where I could use the buttons. At the time, I had just been turned onto a yarn called Noro Silk Garden so I knew I'd use that, but what colorway? I found the "blue" (colorway 264B) looked the best with these buttons. I love Silk Garden, but it's a striping yarn. I didn't want to be covered in blue strips, so I decided I wanted to do a new stitch I'd learned called entrelac. Entrelac is a French term meaning interlacing or woven. The effect makes the resulting fabric look woven. It's done in short rows that come out looking like diamonds, and with this type of yarn, the diamonds look like they meld between color changes. And while I love the effect, I didn't want to be covered in what's essentially basket weave! So I decided that the entrelac would be along the hem and cuffs, which meant I needed a color for the body work.
I'd originally chosen a wool, Debbie Bliss Luxury Donegal Tweed in a blue denim sort of color. I wasn't thrilled, but it was the best of my choices at the time. It worked up quickly and I had the back and both front panels done and started on one sleeve. Then I stopped. I didn't like how it was coming out. The wool was too stiff and I didn't like the texture. Silk Garden is 40% silk, 40% mohair and 20% lambs wool. It's relatively soft when worked up, and the 100% pure wool of the tweed just wasn't working for me.
What else I didn't like about it was that I'd started with the entrelac hem and joined the tweed when I was ready to work the rest of the panels. but in doing so, it left big holes between the yarns where the joined. I thought I could live with it, but with the holes and the stiff wool, and the ugly side seams on the entrelac, I decided it wasn't working for me.
So I ripped the whole thing out.
Since then I've been looking for just the right yarn for the body and sleeves. The search went on for about 9 months. But as soon as I saw the yarn I wanted, I knew it was "the one" and couldn't not get it.
The yarn is Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend in what I call Peacock Blue, but the company calls Orinoco Blue (colorway 2444). You can see here how well the colors go together. You can probably also see how they compliment each other in the first picture.
I'm designing this cardigan myself so it's not just a labor of love, it's also a learning experience. I've written out the base of the pattern and am tweaking as I'm knitting. I'm using one of my favorite sweaters as a guideline for measurements, which helps.
So now, after a month of mainly knitting at night over episodes of CSI, Fringe, and the rest, I've finally managed to get to a stopping point on the back panel. I'm knitting the cardigan from the top down this time, as the entrelac will join with the plain knitting better. And I've now started the first of the two front panels. When the time comes, I'll join the side seams and do the entrelac in one piece along the bottom.
My current problem is making button holes big enough for these massive buttons!
So...on which side do buttons go on a woman's cardigan!! ;-)
A little catch-up on the artichoke saga...

Choke 1 is the first one and is now about the size of a man's fist. The side leaves are starting to produce secondary blooms. I'm not sure when the top globe should be harvested, but I'm sure once it has been that the smaller ones will come on quickly.
Choke 2 is about half the size of #1 and the leaves are starting to produce secondary blooms too.
It's choke 3 that I'm worried about. Looks a bit like it's been watered with run off from Monty Burns's nuclear factory! At least it's blooming something.
Now I just need to learn how to make my own mayo so that I can say I grew my own chokes and will eat them with my own mayo. But...does that mean I have to raise my own chickens so I can say I used my own eggs? I. Don't. Think. So! Gotta draw the line somewhere.
Next project, hopefully this weekend, will be to plant the seed potatoes that are sprouted in the bag we carried them home in! I've got some purples in there. Should be interesting!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Perfect Summers Day

It was the perfect summers day in Ireland today. The weather couldn't have been any better. I thought I'd share a few photos.

Here's Daisie playing in the stream. The sun caught this one section under our crabapple trees and she took the opportunity to go snorkling. This is where she puts her whole head under water and looks for rocks to bring me so I can throw them back in the water so she can go snorkling again. The funny thing is that she doesn't quite get them back to me. She ends up taking them to the edge of the stream and expects me to climb down and get them. Not bloody likely! I was wet enough just throwing the ball into the water for Poppy who DID have sense enough to bring it back so I could throw it again. The problem with Poppy is that she can go for hours where Daisie usually gets bored with a game and then she's away with the fairies. The exception is when she's in the water, where she kept snorkling for rocks and still kept taking them to the edge of the water but not up to me. Goofy dog!

Once both dogs were sufficiently wet, I brought them out of the water one at a time for a bath. Poppy first, since she was already at my side with a ball hanging out of one side of her mouth and her tongue from the other side!
Then it was Daisie's turn and once she saw the soap bottle in my hand she headed back into the stream and refused to come out. I don't understand it, and I probably don't need to, but she LOVES water. Doesn't matter where she is, if she spots a big puddle, pond or the sea, she's in it. But the hose with water coming out? No way! Well, eventually she came out and begrudgingly let me wash her.
Then I ran them to get as much of the water off them as possible before the sun went in and they had to come in the house. Anyone who's been to our house or knows us knows that we use a tennis racket to whack a ball up the backyard, which is about a half acre. They see me pick up the racket and ball and they're instantly up the back and waiting for me to hit the ball to them. It's a great way to exercise collies, let me tell you. After about 15 minutes, Daisie is usually ready to play another game, but Poppy is all about running, and if it means hitting the ball for another 15 minutes to wear her out, who am I to deny her? So here they are, above, laying on the back steps in the sun, catching their breath and the last of the afternoon sun. Ah! It's a dog's life!!

Here are a couple more shots of what's growing around our property. Left is a very old white hawthorn tree that has buds coming in all over. Unlike the crabapple tree which is next to it, the buds are coming in green rather than pink. The flowers will be striking white when they've bloomed, so stay tuned for that picture. They're absolutely stunning.
Lastly, we have a Carnival Tulip. I've tried growing tulips in the ground around where the daffodils are in front of the little stone structure in our front yard, but they never do well for some reason. So I put a bunch of bulbs in various containers to see if they'd come up. The Carnival Tulips are really stunning, looking like starlight mints from Xmas time.
Well, let's not talk about Xmas time when we've had such wonderful weather today. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? The weather "experts" have been calling for rain this weekend and today we had sun. It's anyones guess what tomorrow will bring until we open the curtains in the morning and look out.

Friday, May 01, 2009


In my last post I said we were hoping for three out of three with our three artichoke plants. We've been really happy to see two of them sending up chokes. It's official now though. The third plant is sending up a choke, too! And the bonus, the first plant now also has two chokes coming up from the sides.

The first photo is the first chokes that came up. The first set of leaves below the globe have secondary chokes coming in now. Whoo hoo!!

The second picture is the second choke to procude.

And the third picture is, obviously, the third plant sending up a choke.

Result! Now we're back to suffering the anticipation until they're ready to harvest and EAT!

While I was out taking pictures I was also looking at the crabapple blossom. The buds are starting to open, but I'll hold off posting a photo until the tree is really impressive.

However, while I was looking at the flowers, I happened to notice some fluttering in the trees. There were about a dozen young goldfinches hoping from branch to branch.

They're SO cute. And the tiniest birds I've ever seen in the garden. When these birds are mature, their breast will be totally gold. At the moment, they just have a little gold patch, as you can see. And the red over the beak will eventually turn bright tomato read and completely encircle the beak.

The weather is not looking good for the next week. A storm is brewing in the North Atlantic and it's supposed to hit the hardest on Wednesday this next week. But we'll see how the weather really is. It's not like the weather service hasn't been wrong before.