Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Dogs Ate My Car. Seriously.

I own 3 large & normally well-behaved dogs. This afternoon I put them outside while I mopped the floors.

After 30 minutes or so I heard them yipping - sounded as if they'd gotten themselves stuck in something. I went out to discover they'd apparently cornered something under my car in the driveway. But I couldn't see anything there.

So I put the dogs in the house and got down on my hands & knees to look, but still couldn't find anything underneath the car. Then I opened the hood and there was a terrified squirrel, hissing and squalling and scrambling and clawing all over the engine.

I jumped back, and that is when I saw what the dogs had done to the car trying to get the squirrel out.

They pulled out the wheel well liner entirely, and chewed up the whole front quarter panel of the car. It's all plastic, right, so they literally ate it. I mean, pieces are chewed off, bite marks & scratches everywhere. The damage is amazing. b 

Here are some samples of their work:

My question is, does anyone know if auto insurance normally covers something like this? Should I say it was a bear? I phoned home to ask my dad but he can't stop laughing long enough to answer me!

kNotes for kNitters
Happy Hands Hand Cream for Knitters
Sandia Park, NM

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Leon Russell Live at Albuquerque BioPark 5.13.11


LeonRussell_nowI couldn’t have been happier to see Leon Russell’s concert last night at Albuquerque’s BioPark – only in part because we’d won the $25 tickets (thank you, LocalIQ).

The Albuquerque BioPark & Zoo is a lovely place for a show, a small grassy patch of lawn shaded by towering cottonwoods. The spooky screams of the zoo’s tropical macaws, and the odd ducks who flew overhead and around the stage throughout the evening, added the sort of special effects that put the “quirky” in Albuquerque living.

I could have asked for better sound and sightlines, but I couldn’t have asked for better music, or a prettier moonlit night. And I felt completely at home in the laid-back crowd of 2,000-some hippies-turned-grandparents. Ah, them are my people. Russell himself turned 69 last month, making him a year younger than Eric Burdon, but a year older than Keith Richards, imagine that.

LeonRussell_70sLeon opened with Delta Lady, and his set list hit all the sweet spots - Hummingbird, Back to the Island, Tight Rope, Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms and Stranger in a Strange Land – but dang, he left out Young Blood. So my favorites of the evening were A Song for You – of course, Leon’s singer-songwriter best – and his cover of Dylan’s A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall.

Between numbers Leon shared anecdotes that I didn’t mind hearing again: how at 14 he built a crystal radio set that picked up only one station out there in Oklahoma – blues & gospel. How at 17 he traveled to Los Angeles, intending to get a job in advertising (“That’s a bloody business”); instead, he became a session musician and “the hillbilly of the moment” in a place and time that “thought a lot of hillbilly music, for some reason.”

LeonRussellAnd perhaps my favorite story, how he got that green silk top hat from Gram Parsons (then with the Flying Burrito Brothers) just before he left for Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen 1970 tour. After road wear reduced the hat to near tatters, he discovered that it had originally belonged to Al Jolson, who wore it filming The Jazz Singer.

Introducing Hard Rain, Leon casually dropped a bombshell: he’s currently working out a set of 15 tour dates with Dylan this August. Looking at Leon’s already-scheduled 2011 tour dates, August will have him hopping between upstate New York, Montana, Idaho, Colorado and (one of my favorite Time & Places) Sturgis South Dakota for the 2011 Harley Rally.

He’s scheduled to play Sturgis on August 13 at the legendary Buffalo Chip as part of the American Thunder Music Festival Aug 6-13. Other festival acts include George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Jeff Bridges and friends, Lynyrd Skynyrd (that’ll be a riot), Toby Keith and Alice Cooper (performing separately, not together). Now, can you imagine if Dylan were added to the line-up? Whoa.

Here are some Leon links to brighten your day:

So, happy birthday to the Master of Space and Time. Congratulations on your long overdue induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And thanks for a lovely evening.

kNotes for kNitters
Happy Hands Hand Creams for Fiber Artists
Sandia Park, NM

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Margarita Chicken Recipe

I whipped this up last night, and it was delicious! Since it’s still a little cool outside for grilling – up here in the high mountain desert, that is - I baked my marinated chicken in the oven.

margaritaMargarita Chicken

I adapted this from “Mexican Tequila Marinade”, a recipe in the Marinades & Rubs cookbook by Carol Wilson.

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

1 to 2 pounds of chicken pieces (I like leg/thigh quarters)
1 to 2 tablespoons of coarse salt (kosher or sea salt) for sprinkling

Thoroughly whisk marinade ingredients in bowl or measuring cup (not metal). Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes so flavors will meld.

Trim fat from chicken pieces, then place in shallow baking dish (not metal) or plastic bag. Pour marinade over chicken, turning to coat.

Seal or cover, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, but no more than 3 hours.

Transfer chicken pieces to a non-metal baking dish – if you haven’t already – along with the marinade. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with coarse salt, if desired.

(I really like this crunchy seasoning on the baked chicken skin, reminds me of the salty rim of a margarita glass. If you don’t, just add 1 teaspoon of table salt to the marinade, and skip the sprinkling.)

Bake chicken pieces along with the marinade, uncovered, in preheated 375-degree oven for 55 minutes or until done.

(Note: this cooking time is for my altitude of 7,000 feet; at sea level, check for doneness after 50 minutes.)

Serving suggestions: Great served simply, with plain white or coconut rice drizzled with pan juices, black beans, and a green salad.

Grilling: This is fantastic on the grill when weather permits. Add 1 teaspoon table salt to the marinade & skip the coarse salt sprinkle. Then, instead of baking your chicken in its marinade, drain the marinade into a small saucepan & boil vigorously for 5 minutes. Drizzle over the grilled chicken at serving time.

Seafood: It’s an equally good marinade for seafood, especially shrimp or scallops. Marinate seafood in the fridge for only 30 minutes. Any longer and the lime juice will “cook” the seafood!

¡Buen provecho!

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Creator, Happy Hands Hand Creams for Fiber Artists
Sandia Park, NM

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hugs, Kisses & FREE SHIPPING from Happy Hands Hand Cream

I’ve just sent a coupon for free US shipping to all my Happy Hands hand cream fans who’re signed up for my mailing list.

Would you like a free US shipping coupon too? You can join my fan list to get one for yourself. But hurry, this coupon ends April 4!

And if you’re outside the USA, sign up and stay tuned for a new coupon especially for international orders.

Don’t worry: I don’t spam, and I don’t share your email address with anyone. Ever. And it’s as easy to un-join as it is to sign up, should you tire of my mailings.

Even though this offer ends soon, you can join my list anytime to get my latest special offer to members. It might be a coupon like this one, or it might be free samples of a new scent, or a members-only sale. Always a goodie!

WhiteTeaGinger_allFor those of you new to Happy Hands, I hand-blend this unique hand cream for knitters, crocheters and fiber artists from shea butter, goats milk, honey and aloe.

It’s non-greasy, and won’t transfer to your handiwork, which means it’s great not only for knitters, but also scrapbookers, rubber stampers, jewelry makers … anyone who works with her hands!

I offer Happy Hands hand cream in 25 different scents, plus Unscented, in my Happy Hands Store.

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Creator, Happy Hands Hand Creams for Fiber Artists
Sandia Park, NM

Monday, March 28, 2011

New from ABQ Library: Borrow a Kill A Watt!

Y’all know what an *enthusiastic* supporter I am of our local Albuquerque / Bernalillo County Library system. If you ever want to see something government is doing right (with the help of volunteers of course), look to your local library!

killawattThe newest service from our ABC library system is … drumroll … if you have a library card, you can borrow a Kill-a-Watt home electricity monitor!

Plug the Kill-a-Watt into the wall, then plug your appliances or electronic equipment into the Kill-a-Watt. It will give you a read-out showing how much electricity your item uses, and an estimate of how much it’s costing you to run it.

Hats off to PNM, too, who donated these devices to the library system.

Not a resident of New Mexico? Chances are your local library offers Kill-a-Watt borrowing too. Call ‘em, and check one out!

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Creator, Happy Hands Hand Creams for Fiber Artists
Sandia Park, NM

Monday, March 21, 2011

Importing Audiobooks from CD to iTunes 10

audiobookI love borrowing audiobooks on CD from my local public library, but I hate how complicated it can be to transfer them onto my iPod Touch for listening.

Because iTunes assumes that any CD I try to import is a music CD, the handling of audiobooks on CD gets messy. An audiobook imported as “music” shows up in the Music category of iTunes, each audio track as a separate item, subject to shuffling, and without bookmarks.

There are a number of resources on the Internet giving instructions for handling this problem, but I’ve worked out my own procedure using Windows & iTunes 10 that’s relatively fast and easy, and thought I’d document it here – for my own reference, and in case it’s helpful to anyone else struggling with this thorny issue.

Before You Start

  • Launch iTunes.
  • Pull down the Edit menu and choose Preferences, then make these two selections:
  • When you insert a CD: Show CD (not automatically import)
  • Import Settings: chose AAC Encoder (default) & Spoken Podcast (32 kbpps mono/64 kbpps stereo).

Import the CD

  • Insert the first audiobook CD into your disk drive.
  • In iTunes, select all the tracks shown, by clicking on the first track and Shift+clicking on the last track.
  • Pull down the Advanced menu and choose Join CD Tracks. This groups all the individual tracks on the disc into one unit – much better!
  • With the tracks still selected, right-click and choose Get Info. Enter an Album title using the book title and the disc number.

For example, type an album title like The Sugar House 01 or Sugar House Disc 01. Whatever you choose for the album title, use it consistently across all the discs of the audiobook so they’ll sort properly in iTunes.

  • Now click the Import CD button.

After the Import

At this point iTunes has imported the audiobook disc as one big track, but it’s still in the Music category of your iTunes Library, not yet associated with your other audio Books. You can fix this after the disc has been imported into iTunes.

  • Locate the disc you just imported, in the Music category of your iTunes Library.
  • Click the right mouse button and choose Get Info again.
  • On the Options tab, click Media Kind and choose Audiobook.
  • Also on the Options tab, click to enable Remember Playback Position (your bookmark) and Skip When Shuffling.
  • Optional: if you want to assign artwork to the audiobook files, click the Artwork tab and upload a pretty picture.
  • Click OK when you’re done.

Now the first file of the audiobook is moved into the Book category of your iTunes library.

  • Your Import Preferences will be remembered, so all you have to do is repeat the Import the CD and After the Import steps for each disc of your audiobook.

When you’re finished you’ll have one “book” file in your iTunes Books library for each disc of the audiobook. If you’d rather have a real audiobook with just one or two files, you’ll have to use additional software like Chapter and Verse to consolidate the files. I don’t bother with this for audiobooks I’ve borrowed from the library, but I would do it if I owned the audiobook.

And don’t forget to delete the audiobook files when your library loan period is up!

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Creator, Happy Hands Hand Creams for Fiber Artists
Sandia Park, NM

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What’s for Dinner? Maple-glazed Sweet Potato Wedges (recipe)

I love it when this happens: my mom emailed me this recipe in the nick of time for dinner last night … AND, I had all the ingredients on hand. Woohoo, score!

These were delicious. Family and houseguests ended up squabbling over the last few bits in the pan, a sure test of appeal.

Here’s the original recipe:

Maple-glazed Sweet Potato Wedges

3 sweet potatoes, about 1-1/2 lbs
2 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise into uniform wedges, about 1 in. wide. Whisk together the other ingredients, then add the potatoes and toss to coat.

Arrange wedges in a single layer in a roasting pan, or on a baking sheet and drizzle with any maple syrup mixture remaining in the bowl.

Roast 20 min. at 450. Remove pan from oven, and carefully turn wedges over. Continue roasting until fork tender, about 15 min. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve warm.

My modifications:

Our rosemary plant froze to death during this month’s Arctic cold snap, so I used dried rosemary, in the same quantity because I really like rosemary. Then I also added 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. I love the combination of sweet & hot.

I planned to cook these at the same time & at the same 375 degree oven temp as my chicken pieces. So I cut the sweet potatoes into 1/4” thick slices instead of 1” thick wedges, so they’d cook faster. I took them out after 45 minutes when they were thoroughly cooked & starting to blacken just a bit around the edges. Yum.

  • Do you know the difference between sweet potatoes and yams? Kind of a trick question, but this article from Self spells out the nutritional data.
  • I always use the darker “Grade B” maple syrup for dishes like this. It’s too strong for pancakes, but adds more flavor to baked goods, including breads.

Bon appetit!

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Creator, Happy Hands Hand Creams for Fiber Artists
Sandia Park, NM