Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry and Bright

Hi there,
It's #christmasbreak2015 for me! Oh how I love the two weeks surrounding Christmas & New Years! I'm still in my pjs this morning at 10:30 a.m., and don't plan to leave the house today. All that remains to do is some baking and meal prep. Besides spending some especially high quality time with my loved ones, I have plans to knit, binge watch some TV series and movies, read, and COLOR

I discovered coloring books for adults back in June when Churchmouse Yarns introduced the Posh books in two sizes. They contain beautiful designs for year-round project planning!

I was soooo excited when The Official Outlander Coloring Book showed up.  

This one will probably never get colored. I wanted it to add to my Outlander collection:

pre-Kindle collection

20th Anniversary Edition

Back in the day when we lived in Tennessee, my kids attended one of the best elementary schools in the Knox County system. For career day, I was able to swing a visit by Smokey, the mascot for The University of Tennessee, where I worked at the time. He rode with me from campus to the school in my minivan! Here he is appearing with my daughter's (the cute little red head) kindergarten class.

Ms. Lou Ann's kindergartners

In spite of working full-time, I was able to volunteer at the school quite often. One morning in 1995 as I walked into the school's library I overheard Ms. Lou Ann and Miss Bell, the amazing school librarian, in an intense conversation about Jamie and Claire. They were saying things like "I wonder what Jamie and Claire are doing right now" as if they were real people. I had to interrupt to find out who they were talking about, and that's when I first learned about the Outlander series. They told me I had to read these books, that I would dream about Jamie and Claire. So that's how my obsession began.

Fast forward to 2010 when I first learned about Mason-Dixon Knitting. I squealed on the morning recently when I clicked on this post to hear the news that there was a MDK Coloring Book for Knitters, and I didn't give Santa's elves a chance to put it under the Christmas tree.  

This one will get used and enjoyed just as @kaygardiner and @annshayne intended.

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope your holidays are the best ever!


xoxo Tammy

Saturday, December 5, 2015

'Tis the Season

Hi there,
We're into the swing of the season for the most part. Thanksgiving weekend is always so hectic getting the decorations out, and we put some finishing touches on today.

I did get the CM welted cowl finished for my daughter, and she seemed to really like it. She agreed to a photo shoot on Thanksgiving Day!

#1 daughter

This is such a great, simple one skein pattern. I ordered yarn from Churchmouse Yarns & Teas to make two more!

A neutral one for Steph, and a bluish gray one for myself. These will be fun to knit over the holiday break.

#1 son

Our undefeated Panthers are 11-0!

I hope your December is off to a great start!

xoxo Tammy 

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Hi there,
About ten years ago, I had a couple of things I wanted to learn, practice, and perfect. Nothing life-changing or anything, just two things that had been nagging at me that I wanted to check off as accomplishments. One was to know that I could make the Perfect Pie Crust (and you realize how many different methods/ingredients there are out there--believe me, I've tried all of them), and the other was to learn how to knit.

Sometimes I still feel like a beginner knitter, definitely a student not a master! But I'm not intimidated to learn new things. It's really hard to work outside the home full-time and to have the energy to concentrate on new projects. I leave the house by 7:30 a.m. and do not return until 5:00 p.m. or later, M-F. That doesn't leave many active brain cells to use after taking care of the mundane household chores necessary to keep the wheels going.

I've come up with some new goals of the long-range type! Not all will be placed on hold until retirement, but to be realistic that may be what it takes. These are not listed in any order of importance.

Finish my WIPs!
There are some beautiful projects around my home still on the needles with the most beautiful yarn. I love all of them, there is just not enough time in the day. I'm seriously thinking I need to return to the one-project-at-a-time philosophy. Does anyone have ideas to share on the most efficient way to finish off existing projects? A knitter friend at work told me she had just finished a baby blanket and was looking for a new project. She has nothing lined up, no stash, and will only shop at our LYS once her latest project is wrapped and gifted.

Knit something for myself with Cashmere!
Seriously, I have never purchased or worn anything for myself that is cashmere. I do not own any cashmere yarn. One of my favorite projects that I have admired is @kaygardiner's handpainted scarf. And I cannot forget about her Volt. Maybe that could be my reward to myself if I accomplish the goal above?!

I want to make a Wedding Shawl
Not for myself. I've been married for 34 years, and I am not a fan of the vow renewal ceremonies. I paid attention the first time I took those vows, no need to renew them! lol

It's the idea of a wedding shawl that I love. Even if the recipient bride doesn't wear it, it would be a beautiful thing to cherish and have in her home as a keepsake. I think they look cool and so difficult to make, but I hear they can be made fairly easily. This is one item that I would definitely need big blocks of time to concentrate on. Here are some I admire:

Learn to crochet
My mother and sister were both crocheters, not knitters. I can make a chain and do a simple single crochet, but I know nothing about reading a pattern. Down the road, I'd love to take a beginner class and start off properly. Again, it just boils down to that time thing.

Beads! Color! 
Some of you have made the most beautiful shawls with beading.
Intarsia, fair isle, I have not attempted any color work.

Meet some of my blogger friends in person!
Sharon in Nebraska
Nancy in Wyoming
Tracey in South Carolina
Karen in Pennsylvania
Ann in Nashville
Alissa on Lake Michigan 

Other . . . 
I am not interested in making garments. I have never made a sweater, but would maybe consider a poncho. 

Baby stuff? Not really interested. I love to knit for appreciative loved ones, things like cowls, dishcloths, etc., but most baby gifts are purchased at Target! I've made a couple of baby blankets that were received with pretty lackadaisical responses.

Charity knitting? Very nice gesture, but I am just too slow at finishing projects.

Please share some of your project goals in the comments.

xoxo Tammy

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Hi there,
Carolina Panthers! 7 wins, ZERO losses. First time in franchise history for a season to start off with that success! I hope they can keep it going! I admit to being a pretty lame fan. I could not stay up late enough to watch the Monday night win on a weeknight.

Back in April, I shared a recipe for lemon gooey butter cookies. The chocolate version is one of my family's most requested. My daughter had the brilliant idea of making them with a pumpkin cake mix! I added a couple of teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice to the powdered sugar when I rolled the dough. Delicious!  

I also made my homemade lasagna Sunday evening, a recipe I don't make too often because it makes such a large quantity. I was given this recipe from a colleague when I worked at The University of Tennessee. Some of my best-ever recipes come from those acquired during the ten years we lived in East Tennessee. Those folks can cook! 

Tam's Lasagna

#1 Mixture
1.25 lb lean hamburger
1 lb sausage
chopped onion
2 cloves garlic or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 C tomatoes
1 12-oz tomato paste
2 Tbls parsley flakes
2 Tbls basil
2 tsp oregano
salt, pepper

Brown hamburger and sausage with onion and garlic, drain if needed. Add other ingredients and simmer.

#2 Mixture

32 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
2 beaten eggs
2 Tbls parsley flakes

Mix well.

#3 Mixture

16 oz lasagna noodles, cooked
16 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

Spray a deep-dish 9 x 13 lasagna foil pan with Pam. Layer in this order:

1/2 of the cooked noodles
1/2 of #2 mixture
1/2 of the mozzarella cheese
1/2 of the #1 mixture
Repeat, ending with #1 mixture on top

Bake at 350 degrees covered with foil for one hour.

World's Cutest Granddog!

xoxo Tammy 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Live Awesome!

Hi there,
Everything I've heard about Plucky Knitter yarn is true--squishy, spongy, plush, soft, indescribable really except to say I adore it! Sharon @abbysitznmomanitz gifted me (thank you, muchas gracias, merci beaucoup!!!) a skein of Plucky Knitter for Churchmouse Yarns & Teas Traveler Sport, colorway Ferry Schedule. This one beautiful skein is just more than enough to make the CM Welted Cowl.

I knit a small swatch using my very favorite brand of needles, HiyaHiya Sharp Stainless Steel (size 5). The gauge is perfect, but the stitches about got away from me. So I decided to slow it down by using Clover 16" bamboo circulars, size 5. The newer Clovers have a much sharper point than older versions. This makes for the perfect combination of yarn on needles. The project has been in my bag and gone everywhere with me these past several days.

Last Thursday, Steve and I took a day off and drove up to South Mountains State Park to see some fall colors and hike a bit. There is a beautiful trail a little over a mile up to a breathtaking waterfall. It was nice to be there on a weekday so there were very few people around.

Saturday was the 6th annual Live Awesome Foundation flag football tournament to benefit germ cell cancer research. This event is extra special to our family, so we were all there to assist:




And how about those Panthers!  6-0, YAAAAAAAAAYY!!!

xoxo Tammy 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October love

Hi there,

Meet Cora

and Mabel

and Bessie

These cute girlfriends are from The Pioneer Woman's new cookware line at Walmart. I have wanted one of these charming cow creamers fOrEvEr! The first one I saw was during a French Club field trip in high school. We ate at a charming French restaurant in Lyons, CO called La Chaumiere

Google tells me it went out of business in 2008. I don't remember the food, but I remember the white tablecloths, beautiful dishes, and the adorable white cow creamer on the table. I've wanted one for my kitchen ever since, but the ones I would occasionally find were not the right size or just not cute enough. So I'm just delighted with the PW's version, now at home with me, Steph, and Suz.

The French Club field trip senior year was a 4-hour bus trip to the Denver Art Museum, followed by a stop at the landmark Mexican restaurant, Casa Bonita, a place with average Mexican food, but spectacular entertainment. The behind the scenes video brings back memories of a haunted cave, mariachi bands, sopapillas, and cliff divers! That place is still in business! Have you been there?

Another October weekend, another pumpkin dessert:

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake (Paula Deen)

1 yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 Tbls butter, melted

1 (8 ounce) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
8 Tbls butter, melted
1 (16 ounce) box powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter, and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking pan.

To make the filling:  In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over the cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes*. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream**.

*I turn off the oven after 50 minutes and let it bake another 5 or 10 minutes while the oven cools down.
**Mix 1/2 pint Heavy Whipping Cream with approx 1/4 C powdered sugar at high speed with whipping attachment.

xoxo Tammy 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fall preview

Hi there,
It's been a beautiful autumn day. We're finally getting to enjoy the pretty fall mums following many days of rain and clouds. Some leaves are starting to shed when the wind picks up, but it will be later in the month before we see a color change in the trees.

I added about six (really long) rows to The Stole, a project I love but didn't work on over the summer. I'm officially at the half-way point and look forward to the four remaining colors. I had forgotten about the soft and luxurious feel of the Isager Strik Alpaca Merino yarn.

Wednesday I heard (on the news) there was going to be a shortage of canned pumpkin, so I stocked up a bit. Then on Thursday I heard (on the news) that was not the case, and the store shelves would be fine. Oh well, I'm very happy to see those cans in my pantry and decided today would be a good one to whip up a pie. I'm very much a snob when it comes to my pie crust.  I've tried every method there is: all butter, all Crisco, half of each, mixed with the Kitchenaid, etc. After many tweaks and tests, here is the recipe that works best for me:

Tam's Perfect Pie Crust
(Makes 2 single crusts)

2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (keep very cold)
1/2 C Crisco shortening
1/2 C ice water, plus additional tsps

Use pastry blender to mix flour, salt, sugar with the butter and Crisco. Drizzle in water to form dough. Halve dough, wrap in plastic, and press into discs.

Chill for at least an hour. Remove from fridge and roll out into crust.

I love this short videoclip from Southern Living for the best method of putting the dough together by hand. That's exactly how I do mine, although I use the butter/Crisco mix.

Recipe from back of the Libby's pumpkin can

xoxo Tammy 

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Hi there,
Mr. Punke was a Biology teacher/tennis coach at the small high school I attended in my hometown in Wyoming. His son, Michael Punke, has written a book called The Revenant, which is based upon the true story of a frontiersman named Hugh Glass who was left for dead and came back angry. The movie version will be released Christmas Day starring Leonardo DiCaprio!

Link to trailer:

The Revenant

This is not the type of book I would normally choose, however I am 29% in and really hooked! When away from my Kindle, I keep thinking, "I wonder how Hugh is doing" or "I wonder if Hugh has been able to stand up/find food/avoid Indians." I haven't been this absorbed in a character since the first time I read about Jamie and Claire.

The author, Michael Punke, has quite the interesting day job as a high-profile U.S. government official. Read more about him in these articles in Maxim and the Calgary Herald. Pretty awesome for someone who grew up in rural Wyoming. I also learned that his sister Amy has a son who is a starter on the UWyo men's basketball team.

We've been pretty fortunate as far as the storms hitting the East Coast this week. We received a much-needed 3" - 5" of rain and no power outages on this side of town. South Carolina was hit much harder.

I'm off to watch the Homeland finale from last season to be prepared for tonight's season premiere! Carrie Mathison . . . "where are you", "what are you doing"??!!

xoxo Tammy 

Monday, September 28, 2015


Hi there,
We had the most wonderful rainy, dreary, cloudy weekend. The type of weather that knitters love! I got out of my summer knitting slump by finishing up three simple dishcloths in autumn colors, all three in the bee stitch, using Peaches & Creme. Here's the recipe:

Size 6 needles
Cast on 39
For garter stitch borders, begin by knitting six rows. Then knit the first three and last three stitches of every row for the side borders.
Bee Stitch Pattern
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: k1, *k1 in stitch below, k1; repeat from * across
Row 3: Knit
Row 4: k2, k1 in stitch below, *k1, k1 in stitch below; rep from * to last 2 stitches, k2
Repeat these 4 rows until it is just about a square, then knit six rows. Cast off.

I also tried a new recipe, a bread featured in the September 2015 issue of Southern Living:
Pumpkin-honey-beer BreadI used Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale for the beer.

Are you familiar with AmazonSmile? If you are a regular amazon customer like I am, I encourage you to register in order to earn money for your favorite charity. The Live Awesome Foundation is near and dear to us.

A bit of fun: Peanutize yourself!            

xoxo Tammy 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Eveready vs. Humble

Hi there,
Jeff sent me a photo with his pen, taken on his campus. Best one yet!

I love nicknames, especially because I don't think I was given one in high school. No one calls me tamknots, of course, but I think of it as somewhat of a nickname. I'm TamCats in Fantasy Football, Typhoon Tammy in the Storm Spotters Squad, and I even made up a nickname for myself when I use Groupon . . . I'm TAM-pon (tampon??!)  lol

People who love me simply call me Tam.

I ran across this online quiz:  What would your Secret Service codename be?
Here's another one:  Generate your very own Secret Service codename
Interesting facts from Wikipedia:  Secret Service Codename

My results were pretty lame, so I thought I'd make up my own.

I would want my Secret Service codename to be . . .

the Lifeguard!

(My family will get the inside joke on this. That is a story for another day post!)

What would you choose as YOUR codename???

xoxo Tammy