This, That, and a Frozen Gerbil

Did I mention the kids started school last week? …because they did, and it. is. awesome.

Yesterday, they had the day off though, so we journeyed over to the zoo.  We have zoo passes, so we only went for a couple of hours, and we spent a good chunk of our time in the Tropical Discovery building where we met Bob.

20140825_111608_1Bob is (I believe) an Alligator Snapping Turtle…Bob was huge.  Doesn’t he look like a dinosaur?  We’d never seen anything like him.  Love the zoo.

After the zoo we headed home and we each worked on our “projects.”  Dodge’s involved building something in Minecraft on the computer (of course), Tilly’s project involved stringing a button onto a strand of thread over and over (she was making tiny necklaces) and then leaving them all over the apartment,  and my projects are of course  BC1 and BC2, but also, something that involves sewing and is epic.

I somehow (with the help of Ben) decided that I should sew a giant playhouse, fabric, cover thing to put over my children’s bunk bed.  It’s gonna look something like this:

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Ben built a PVC frame over the weekend to hold the fabric at the top (it almost reaches the ceiling). I only need to cover one long side and one end of the bed. The tree will be a separate piece that covers the ladder. Oy.

Right now it looks like this:

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I was hoping to finish it in a week.  Stop laughing…it’s totally possible.

I also started two more “projects” because I can’t help myself.  I’m knitting a hat for Tilly to match her new pink mittens.

captured_by_snapseed_807_1And I’ve decided to start a granny square afghan made from leftover sock yarn scraps. There are lots of different ways I could’ve gone with the scrap yarn:  mitered square blanket, stripes, wool-eater, but I love granny squares…I love them like my mom loves paisley.  It can’t be helped.  It’s a condition.

captured_by_snapseed_808_1And last, but not least, I have some sad news.  One of Dodge’s pet gerbils, Pauline (the black one) has passed away.

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She is currently residing in the freezer (very well wrapped) next to the peas and frozen kale.  There will be a gerbil funeral to be held at a date to be determined.  Let us have a moment of silence for Pauline.  She was their favorite.  She will be missed.

Shhh…don’t tell anyone

I have a little secret….

Sadly, for entertainment value purposes, it doesn’t hold any shock value, and it’s not really the kind of secret that would destroy my life if word got out.  Actually, now that I think about it, it’s probably not even really a secret (more like a tip), and if it were it would, most likely, classify as the least juicy secret ever to exist in the universe.

Hmmm…now I don’t know if I should share it because it is so incredibly lame, and I’ve built it up to be more than it is.

Ah well, I’ll go ahead and share it with you anyway.  Prepare yourselves for the most boring secret ever to meet your eyes:

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…I use cosmetic bags for knitting projects.  BAM.  Secret revealed.

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‘orla keily etc’ cosmetic bags found at my local Target.

 

Okay, that was pretty boring.  Aren’t they cute though?  Ladies?  Gents?  Are you squealing with delight at their charm and color?  I sure was when I saw them in the store.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?), when I saw these on the shelves I wasn’t really in need of any more make-up bags.  But then it hit me:  I could use these for knitting.  They’re water-resistant, they have lots of room, and lots of little pockets…perfect for knitting projects!  I admit that zippers and knitting can be a troublesome combination sometimes (zippers like to eat strands of yarn), but in this case, I think it’s worth the risk.

Wanna see inside?  …well, I’m showing you anyway.

captured_by_snapseed_801_1Do you see that!?  Look at all those little compartments!  Magical.

Right now, I’m keeping my Elemental Linens placemat in the green one, and I love how it keeps the project all neat and organized.  It’s like opening a little gift I gave myself every time I unzip it.  (Merry Christmas, Me!  …Why thank you, Me!)  Oh, the happy times we have.

captured_by_snapseed_802_1For any of you interested in actual knitting–the placemat is still growing…slowly but beautifully.

I think maybe some of you may have figured out that I’m using the bags as a distraction though.…because I haven’t been knitting as much.

No worries though. Because while I’m still participating in my very own extravaganza of healthy and not so healthy cooking, I plan on knitting more over the weekend.  I’m realizing that if I don’t knit on those brown cardigans (Augusta and Wyeth…yes, I’ve given them their own names…just kidding, their creators did that…but I think I’ll call all my knitting projects by their names from now on…even when they’re finished…like pets) then they will not be finished by their mid-September goals.

I best get to it.

Happy weekend!

10 Days

…with no knitting.

In my regular, pre-blogging life, I didn’t knit as much, which was good for my hands, wrists, and elbows, but not as productive…and my goal was to be more productive (I’m talking knitwise here, not something crazy like with cleaning or laundry folding).  And since I am way more productive when someone is watching or when I have goals, the blogging commenced.

Then I knit myself into a little bit of pain.  And so I took a Knit Break.

I had assumed that while I was on the Knit Break I would be able to get everything done that needed done, and just as it is with most some things I assume…I was wrong.  Life still happened.  The same things needed done in the same amount of time I had to do them.  And I was still the same person that I always am.  That being– I still pick the things I find most fun and spend the most time doing those.  Here’s what happened…

Things I did whilst on my Knit Break:

  1.  I cooked more.
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    Rainy Weather Soup (aka Autumn Meatball Stew, aka Orange Squash and Coconut Milk Soup w/ Sweet Potatoes and Pork(and Coconut) Meatballs, aka The Soup That Took Two and a Half Hours).

I made up a soup.  (I made other stuff to, but the soup was special).  I would tell you the recipe, but it was a little lot labor intensive and took around two-ish hours to make.  I cooked this soup with the intentions of using up ingredients that I had on hand.  And when I started cooking, the day was sunny and, well, too hot outside for eating soup, but by the time the it was finished, rain had rolled right in.  I can only assume that The Great and Wonderful Power of the Soup changed the weather to the proper form of precipitation and temperature for eating soup.  Good stuff.

Today I’m making bone broth for Chicken Soup, and guess what?…it just started storming outside.  Now I’m thinking it’s not just the other soup that changes weather…it’s me.  I have The Great and Wonderful Power of Soup Weather.

2. I read more.

I should clarify that:  I read more books.  (I also read more links from people on Facebook, but I think of Facebook as more of a rabbit hole or a trap…it just sucks you in until you forgot that the point of picking up your phone was to set the alarm so that you could wake up early in the morning and pretend that you could get a lot done while the children are still asleep, but by the time you’ve looked at the last link you realize that you’ve accidentally stayed up longer than you intended and now have to rethink your “getting up early” plan, and then you set your alarm for howevermanyminutes later hoping that you can still be productive, only that never happens because the smaller one hears the floor creak when you walk by her room and then you’re hanging out with a 6-year-old doing 6-year-old things instead of necessary mom-ish, houseworky things.)

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Two of them are Fantasy and one is a really good nutrition book.  I love reading different genres and books about many things, but one of my favorite subjects is nutrition.  I especially like reading nutrition-based books if they’re informative and agree with my personal beliefs about nutrition. This one mostly does, and so I liked it a lot.  It’s Eat the Yolks by Liz Wolfe.  I liked it so much, I’m gonna read through it again sometime.

One of the fantasy books (Wizard’s First Rule) is a book that I’ve read a few times (there was a really terrible show based on the series for a bit).  The last time I read it was about 7 years ago, and so I noticed a few things this time around that I had neglected to notice in my younger days.  Like how this book is not super well-written and the story is a little slow until the middle of the book, which is about 400 pages in.  I still like it though.

The other book I haven’t finished yet. But The Eye of the World is supposed to be a good series (by Robert Jordan), so I’m game.

 and 3.  I taught other people in ways of the yarn.

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I taught Tilly how to use an I-cord maker.  She loves it.  Right now it looks a little like wooly intestines, but I’m gonna felt (full) it, and sew it up into some hot pads or trivets or a rug.  I’m using up the Irish Oil wool that I’ve had lying around.  I had a different plan for it, but it’s not very pleasant to knit with– little, crunchy, wool bits fly around and end up getting caught in the back of the throat–so, it’s taking a different path instead.

I also taught a friend to knit.  I don’t count this as knitting as the process of teaching is slower and any knitting (on my part) was minimal.

Well, that’s mostly it (besides all the back-to-school shopping…which is no small feat).  At the end of my 10 knit-free days, I didn’t end up with more organized closets, less laundry, spotless floors, or having exercised more.  I just moved my next favorite activities up the list.  Such is life.

I will now resume the knitting, but with a little more (ahem) reserve.  We’ll see if that can be managed.

Down, But Not Out

The mittens took me out.

Not, like, on a date or anything, so stop picturing the mittens and I strolling along on a nice walk or out to eat at a restaurant…seriously, stop it.

…I’m talking RSI or repetitive strain injury.  I didn’t get a professional opinion, so it’s just my guess, but I’m giving the knitting a rest for a few days…maybe even a week.  I know; (gasp) a whole week.  What will I do?

Well, we already had the nice distraction of a family visit over the weekend (Thanks for the visit Unka Jo, Auntie Ray Ray, and Grammy Pammy!), so maybe now I’ll catch up on reading.  Or laundry.  Or maybe I’ll snuggle Tilly a little more (waving sharp, pointy sticks around while holding a child doesn’t usually work out).   Maybe I’ll shred all the papers that are puddled around the shredder.  So many options.

In the meantime, I do have finished mittens to show you.  I finished them on Saturday, and mostly, they look the same as last time:

captured_by_snapseed_779_1Except now they have little, yellow, mitten-shaped linings on the inside.20140812_144200_1

20140812_144545_1This last photo is of one with the lining tucked inside and the other still out.  So fun.

To distract myself from all the not knitting going on the little family and I decided last night that we should visit the local, old, amusement park (the kids had free tickets through our library summer reading program).

This amusement park has been around for a long time and is so old that it kinda gives off a creepy, fun sort of vibe.  The same kind of feeling that the carnival from the movie Big had.  It was, surprisingly, packed for a Monday night though.

We started out in the Kiddieland section (all the rides are shorter, smaller, and slower…for the kids) and somehow Ben and I convinced Tilly and Dodge to ride the roller coaster.     This roller coaster is, at maximum, maybe 5 or 6 feet (the height of an average adult) off of the ground.

They were worried.

We told them it would be fine.

The roller coaster started.  Chugging its way up the tiny, tiny climb.

20140811_202547_1Then around it went.  Around the hilly, short, little track.

As it came back around the last corner of the track, we noticed that Dodge was screaming his head off and looking for all the world like he was crying… and Tilly was looking pretty scared too.

And then around it went another 5 times.  Each time with Dodge coming around the  bend screaming.

Now, a kind mother might have said “yes” when the operator asked if he should maybe cut the ride short…but I discovered that I am not one of those, so I said “no.”  Well, actually, I shook my head no and waved my hand in dismissal because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t get any words out.  Laughing really, really hard.

For any of you that are worried, you should know that Dodge is a particularly loud and dramatic sort of 10-year-old…but usually recovers from things entirely untraumatized.

I am still laughing at the mental image today.  I just accidentally spilled Earl Grey all over my kitchen counter because I was laughing so hard thinking back on it. 

The kids recovered from the teeny weeny widdle roller coaster at their own paces and went on to try out all sorts of kiddie rides and then even ventured onto the Bumper Boats.  By the end of the night they were regular adrenaline junkies and braved a ride (from the non-kiddie ride section) called Whip.  Just to be clear though, this ride is not even related to a roller coaster…it’s more like bumper cars that are attached to a chain that takes them around a track (think race track meets carousel) except around the corners of the track the chain gets picked up by a faster spinning gear/turntable and whips you around the corner; then it slows down again until the next corner.

20140811_223136_LLS_1We had a really good time though.  We wandered around, went on rides, chatted with ride operators, ate really unhealthy food, and rode the Whip three times until the park closed at 11:30.  As we were leaving, a mouse ran across the sidewalk…it was very Templeton at the county fair…and seemed to complete the old, amusement park experience.

It almost made me wish that school wasn’t starting soon and summer would just keep on going for awhile longer…

But then, Tilly wouldn’t get to wear these mittens.

Stella mittens

 

 

The Sweet Spot

I was enjoying a thunderstorm earlier today–knitting away on a mitten– when I realized that I hadn’t knit anything brown for several days.  Now, normally I am indifferent to this type of discovery, but I’m not being normal at the moment.  I have a goal to bust out two brown cardigans before the official start of fall, and it turns out that obtaining finished, brown cardigans requires actual time spent knitting on said (unfinished) brown cardigans.  Surprising, no?

So I rallied with Augusta (a.k.a. Brown Cardi #1 or BC1) and managed the better part of one sleeve while the kids and I watched The Lego Movie…again.

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That’s the inside (or wrong side) of the sleeve–just to keep things fresh.  BC1, so far, remains brown, soft, and tweedy.  I know I’m gonna love this thing when it’s finished, but the knitting of brown things is… well… it’s really boring.  I threw in some yellow scrap yarn to liven things up and to help keep track of increases and keep me focused.

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Keeping track of increases. Directions read: increase every 12th row, 7 times…something like that.

So far so good.  I learned this handy yarn trick from the Yarn Harlot…she doesn’t know it, but she’s my knitting mentor.  I don’t have any familial knitters from which to acquire handy tips and tricks passed down from generation to generation, so her blog has often been my guide.  Good ‘ol internet.

Brown Cardi #2, better known as Wyeth, hasn’t been started yet.  Not even a test swatch.  I did print out the pattern today.  Maybe that counts for something?

Mostly though, it’s been me and the mittens…the mittens and me.

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Basic mitten pattern from Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Budd.  I duplicate stitched the hearts…it was kind of fun. (For the non-knitters) Duplicate stitch is a special kind of embroidery for knitting.

Brown cardigans really have no way of competing with hot pink mittens–with hearts no less.  So adorable.  They’re for Tilly.  She loves them….I, too, love them.  If they were big enough, I might try stealing them.  Sadly, they don’t fit, and also, 31-year-old moms don’t usually wear hot pink, heart, mittens.  One of life’s tragedies.

Don’t extend your sympathies just yet though…the mittens and I get to spend a little more time together.  I’m knitting linings for them.

captured_by_snapseed_772_1Right now they look a little freakish, but once done, the light pink and yellow bits will tuck into the hot pink mitten and make a super warm, double thick mitten (the yellow will be hidden). Super exciting.  I am, essentially, knitting a total of 4 mittens but ending up with just one pair.  It’s good fun.  Really.

On top of all that, I have found my knitting sweet spot: turns out that knitting on size US 3 (3.25mm) needles with DK weight yarn makes me super happy.  It’s my perfect knitting scenario.

Those last few sentences really make me understand why non-knitters might think I’m a little wacky.

…Ah well.

I’m off to spend more quality time with the mittens (and my children). :)  Happy Thursday!

The Beginning of the End of Summer

Yesterday was school registration day for my kids, and I am filled with hope anew–there is light at the end of the summer– I mean tunnel.  We have filled up our summer with a lot of activities, swimming, reading, relaxation, family,  and friends, and now I’m ready for some structure.  Two weeks, people.  Freedom (ish).

Due to summer, there has been a sadly diminished amount of knitting time lately, but it’s been enough to keep me docile.  I finished a pair of socks over the weekend.

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These have been on the needles since the middle of July.  They claim to be the colorway “Berry” (Cascade Yarns Heritage Paints).  They are red and blue…kind of 4th of July-esque.  These attributes would seem to point to summer, but these socks don’t remind me of summer.  The colors have me thinking of fall.  Maybe it’s the wool or wishful thinking.  Summer is too hot…not my favorite.

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As I said, I finished them (mostly) over the weekend. We took a little weekend trip to visit some of Ben’s family, and it was the only project I brought along for the ride…mostly because I left the packing until the last minute…oops.

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The weekend was so packed that I only managed to knit on them for little bits of time here and there, and it’s really too bad that all the pictures from this weekend have landed on my husband’s phone because we had a lot of fun, and I’d love to show you all.

It started with a wonderful campfire with Ben’s sister, Dr. If (aka Jess) and her husband Carlo (aka Kyle), and didn’t end until we’d all enjoyed lots of family (Hi everyone!), food, mountains, sunshine, rain, beer, coffee, basketball, dogs, birds, bugs, and talking.  Great times.

Today the kids and I are trying to squeeze in some last bits of summer relaxing.  It’s raining, and Dodge can’t get his cast wet (it’s Luigi green, by the way), so we’re playing board games, eating lots of fruit, watching horrible TV shows, and reading aloud (right now it’s The Neverending Story).

Oh, and I’m knitting pink mittens.

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See the thumb, Uncle Roger? That’s what knitting toe socks would be like…kind of.

Dodge breaking his arm was not a wonderful thing to have happen, especially at the end of summer, but, the silver lining:  it’s good for the knitting time.  ;)

Happy Tuesday!