First Day of School 2014

Today was the first day of school here.  Bug started 4th grade and Fidget started Pre-K.   Both were pretty excited about starting a new adventure.

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Here Fidget is waiting outside his classroom before he could go in with his new teachers and classmates.  The school my boys attend is an awesome school.  It’s a Montessori school and they have combined classrooms for the Pre-K/K classes and the 1/2 classes.  This means Fidget will remain in the same class for 2 years, with the same teacher and half of the same kids.  They do a lot of hands on activities and they teach in a child led manner (despite the fact that NY is unfortunately a Common Core state).2014-09-04 08.14.52

 

I will say that Fidget was a bit hesitant and scared about starting something new, but he did it with no tears.  He did try to make not one, but two attempts to leave with me, but once he was significantly distracted finding his cubby he was fine.  When I picked him up at the end of the day he said he had fun, left his lunchbox in his cubby and was very distraught over the fact that he couldn’t bring his nap blankie, that I knit for him, home.  He doesn’t quite understand that he’ll get to see it again every school day.2014-07-22 19.45.56My day was a typical housework day and while I was sad that my baby isn’t a stay at home baby anymore I was glad to have the break and the quiet, even though it meant cleaning.  I had the sheets off the beds and into the washer before we left for school, had them hung up on the line outside just after getting home, opened all the windows, had breakfast, put away some clean laundry, cleaned the living room and vacuumed it, put new sheets on the beds, cleaned one of the bathrooms, and gathered all the garbage and put it in the bin outside.  

After all that cleaning I did manage to do some crafting.  I’ve been spinning up some wool that I brought home from the Estes Park Wool Market this past June.  After attempting to dye it, I found that it’s rather sticky (almost like there is lanolin that won’t come out) and it felted with hardly any agitation.  Spinning it seemed to work better for it and I am actually liking how it came out – despite the fact the my fingers feel sticky whenever I touch it.  I finished the second bobbin of singles last night before bed and today I wound it into a center pull ball and made a 2 ply today, all while watching a couple episodes of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman on tv.  The first skein I made, which I re-skeined today, is 140 yrds of DK/sport weight (13-15WPI).  I also found that soaking the yarn in super hot water with dawn, followed by 2 hot water rinses and a conditioning rinse alleviated the sticky factor and the yarn is a bit softer.  It’s actually a very pretty ecru color…not sure if I’m going to bother dyeing it.  I think I might leave it plain.  

Not sure what tomorrow will bring…I need to clean the other bathroom, at the very least.  I’m hoping to do a little spinning.  I’m thinking of having a giveaway contest on my shop facebook page when I reach 300 likes.  I think I’m going to offer a skein of handspun faux cashmere as the prize.  If you are interested, hop on over to facebook and give my page a like – if you want to make sure you get in on the contest you can request notifications whenever I post anything…it will go directly into your notice bar.  🙂

 

 

Back in the Saddle Again

I’m doing something that I haven’t done in 5 years…I’ve decided to break out my Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD again.  It’s not that I’m in dire need to lose weight, it’s more that I want to tone up and tighten the areas that are a little, shall we say, wiggly.  I’m in size 12’s or 14’s and while it’s not as skinny as I’d like to be some days, I’m comfortable.  But, I find that there are more days that not that I don’t like to look at myself in the mirror while unclothed.

Was this what made me jump back on the exercise bandwagon?  No, not entirely.  Darling Hubby and I were invited to a testimonial for his step father.  He is District Governor of something (yeah, I’m not entirely sure on all the details) and they are holding an afternoon fancy shmancy thing in his honor on May 5th. I’ve already bought my dress and jewelry.  I already had shoes and underthings and I’ve plans to knit myself a shawl to go with it (you never know just how chilly it might be in May or in those hotel banquet rooms.)  I’ve already bought the yarn (it matches perfectly) and got started.  The dress fits me perfectly and looks good (Darling Hubby says hot), but I look in the mirror and always see what is wrong and what could be different.  I could stand to lose that little bit of a tummy and my arms could be less flabby…That’s what made me decide to pull out the dvd, yoga mat, and my hand weights and throw on my sneakers.

I weighed in this morning and I was 149lbs (that’s down 1lb from yesterday…lol).  I think this time I may try to take some measurements of myself so I know if I lose any inches.  Like I said, I’d still like to lose some of the flab around my middle…you know the little paunchy thing that never seems to want to go away after having kids…and tighten up my arms and legs a bit.  I know my legs could look super hot in those heels with a little toning up…lol

Anyway, I already did day one, level one and let’s say that it was so much easier this time around than it was 5 years ago.  Let’s just say that when I finished I wasn’t wanting to curl up in a ball and die or vomit.  I felt a little weak muscled, but never felt sick or dizzy and I didn’t even have trouble breathing.  I can obviously feel it in my thighs and I know that tomorrow sitting down or standing from sitting is gonna be a little rough.  I can also feel those muscles walking up or down stairs (and even walking down the hill at Bug’s school.)

Looking back I’m already at a lower weight than when I started the first go around.  I don’t have a particular weight goal that I’m working toward and I’m not going to keep close tabs on what I’m eating. aside from trying not to go overboard with portion sizes.  I already know that I’m eating a little healthier than I was 5 years ago, especially having cut most processed foods out as a way to avoid soy.  I still indulge, don’t get me wrong, I’m still a snacker and I’ve found ways to get back some of my favorite foods that I was forced to cut out.  I still love chocolate and found that the Nestle Dark Chocolate morsels are soy free and oh so good.  I’ve found ice creams that I can eat again, so I do find myself having a bowl before bed some nights.  We still do our game night sessions once every 2 weeks, but I find that I’m usually pretty good and only eat the things like the cheese and jelly or the fresh bread and not all the chips and junk foods that we used to nosh on.  I just have to watch my portion sizes.

So, that’s my goal, 30 days (hopefully including the weekends this time).  My end date to get in shape is May 4th, so I’ve got the month.  I plan to blog about my journey again so I can keep myself motivated.  Feel free to join me if you want.  I won’t mind the company.

100 Days of Happiness – Days 1-5

I’ve recently seen my facebook feed explode with people jumping on the 100 Days of Happiness bandwagon.  I’ve often been accused of being grumpy or just plain miserable by my Darling Hubby and I think that I might just need a little daily reminder that there are happy moments for me everyday.  It’s all about perspective.  I find that the little things that bring me joy often get lost amongst the daily jumble of everyday chores and tasks.

My plan isn’t to join the 100 days website, instagram feed or even take a photograph every day, but to simply write down something each day that made me happy.  It could be something big or something small, but I want to start seeing the joy in everyday.  I may even occasionally share photos, but for now I’m just going to keep a list and post when I can (it won’t be everyday.)

I know I’m a couple days late, but I sort of unofficially started on Monday.

3/24 – Happiness is a new mattress with the hope of a good night’s sleep.

3/25 – Happiness is a skype session with a couple far away friends.

3/26 – Happiness is watching your usually shy 9 year old take the lead at his mini Lego Expo presentation at Math Night at school.   (I have pictures, but haven’t uploaded or had time to edit them.)

3/27 – Happiness is watching a stupid movie with Darling Hubby after the kids go to bed.

3/28 – Happiness is commenting on a blog and winning a free knitting pattern and having a day free of tantrums and naughty behaviour from Fidget.

I actually noticed more than just one happy moment for each of those days and it was actually hard to pick just one.  Hopefully I’ll continue this HAPPY trend!

Happy First Day of Spring

Spring is finally here, though you wouldn’t really know it by looking outside.  It’s very dark and dreary with a fine rain falling on the layer of sleet that fell yesterday.  Hopefully, the weather will start improving, the buds will start popping up and Mother Nature will show her true beauty in all the flowers and green leaves.  I’m looking forward to the snow going away!

I’m also hoping that I won’t need all the winter woolies anymore.  Though, that will make me kinda sad as I just finished a pair of fingered gloves for myself.  I’m loving the colors (black, red, green with a hint of white and blue) and they match my winter coat and hat perfectly (well, the black and bright green do anyway), but I’m kinda sad that while I made them to fit me perfectly, they have stretched a bit with wearing them a few times and now feel like they are floating on my hands.  They are still warm, though and I’ll either keep them or give them to Darling Hubby if he’d like them.  I was considering making them with a mitten flap to go over the fingers, but I don’t think I have enough yardage leftover to do both flaps…Oh well.

I haven’t been spinning since the Ravellenics ended in February (geeze, that was a month ago almost!).  I went to Open Spinning at the LYS last night and finished up the 2nd skein of my X’s and O’s worsted weight Navajo plied yarn.  It felt good to finish something.  I finally washed the first skein of X’s and O’s and the skein of Ten and Tardis singles that I spun.  Now I’ve got 3 skeins of yarn drying.  I’m hoping the weather improves so I can get out on the porch to photograph.  The dark and dreary light of today isn’t great for photography…and my attempt at making my own light box was a failure.  😦  Sometimes I’m crafty, but this wasn’t one of those times!

Oh, and I have added one new project to my WIP list.  Little Fidget will be turning 4 in May and along with that he has the opportunity to go to pre-k.  I’ve already put his application in for the district pre-k lottery which will be drawn on 4-11-14.  We should hear if he got into our chosen school by the following week.  We’re really hoping that he gets into the same school his brother currently attends.  It would make life so much easier!  lol  Anyway, since school starts in 6 months I figured that would give me plenty of time to work on a “nap blanket” like I made for Bug when he went to Pre-k.  Fidget decided that he wanted something simpler than the Wheels on the Bus blanket I’d made for Bug.  In a way I’m grateful that he chose something simpler.  While the Wheels on the Bus was a cute blanket it was a lot of work and after a school year of weekly washing it didn’t hold up as well as I’d have liked. Plus, sewing all those 2 inch squares together was a right royal pain!  lol

Fidget chose a red blanket at first, then chose a red and black blanket.  I fell in love with the Moderne Baby Blanket from Mason Dixon Knitting so we scoured Ravelry together to find red and black blankets to give us ideas for 2 more colors.  We settled on black, red, white and dark grey.  So far I’m on block 6 and only messed up once, putting block 4 in the wrong place, but it will work out in the end I think with a bit of fudging.

Sadly, I don’t have any new photos.  Hopefully I’ll get something this week to share.  It’s weird, but I don’t like talking about my craft projects without photos to share!  Better get back to knitting.  Happy Spring, Everyone!

Apricot Pulled Pork on Homemade Kaiser Rolls

Tuesday’s are my crockpot days.  Darling Hubby has his weekly gaming session at the local game store and I take the boys to the local library for the “It’s Elementary” kids club program and to check out some new books.   Darling Hubby usually gets home before the kids and I do and wants to get in and out so he can get to the store and I’m not in the mood to cook a full meal when we get back, therefore, I like to have a meal already ready and waiting for us. Tonight will be Apricot Pulled Pork Sandwiches, served on freshly homemade toasted Kaiser rolls, french fries and baby carrots with dip.  It already smells amazing in here!

Apricot Pulled Pork on Homemade Kaiser Rolls
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsps Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4lb boneless pork roast, trimmed of fat

2 Tbsp corn starch
1/4 cup cold water
1 Tbsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
10-12 kaiser rolls, toasted

Combine first 7 ingredients. Place pork roast in crockpot. Pour apricot mixture over roast and cook on low 8-9 hours.

Transfer pork to cutting board, cool slightly and shred with forks. Skim fat from liquid in crockpot.

Blend water, cornstarch, ginger, salt, and pepper until smooth. Whisk into crockpot liquid. Cook 15-30 mins on high, uncovered, until thickened (sauce can also be done on the stovetop if you are in a hurry.) Return shredded pork to crockpot, mix well. Serve on toasted buns.

I use this receipe for my kaiser rolls.  I use the bread machine method for the dough.  So much better than store bought and I know exactly what is in them!

Enjoy!

Cheesy Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

When someone mentions Shepherd’s Pie I immediately think of something with beef, gravy and mashed potatoes.  I’d planned to use some chicken to make a pot pie, but Darling Hubby suggested I use up some more of the leftovers we had in the fridge, so I pulled out a pound of cooked chicken and parmesan mashed potatoes (leftover from Bug’s 9th birthday a few days ago), some green beans from dinner yesterday, some frozen corn and peas, and Velveeta cheese and made a yummy dinner.  Bug was already asking me to make it again before he’d even finished his first bowl (yes, he had seconds in addition to eating the leftover kale and kidney beans, also left over from his birthday dinner.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take any pictures while I was cooking, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

Cheesy Chicken Shepherd’s Pie
1 lb cooked chicken, cut into chunks
10 oz of frozen or leftover veggies (I used cooked green beans and frozen corn and peas)
8oz of Velveeta cheese, cut into chunks
freshly ground pepper
2Tbsp unsalted butter
2Tbsp flour
1 cup hot water
Mashed potatoes (2 cups will probably be enough – I didn’t measure exactly)
Shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375*

Put the chicken, veggies and Velveeta in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until the cheese starts to melt.  Stir gently and frequently until all the cheese melts and everything is coated.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and combine with the flour.  Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Gently whisk in the water and heat til bubbly.  Continue to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the chicken mixture is coated with cheese, taste and season with pepper (you probably won’t need salt), pour into an 8×8 pyrex square baking dish.  When the gravy is done, pour that over the chicken mixture.  Do not stir.

If, like me, you are using leftover mashed potatoes, warm them in the microwave for a minute or 2 until spreadable.  Spread around on the top of the gravy.  Sprinkle on the cheddar cheese.

Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and the cheese is brown.

Enjoy!

Prep time was about 25-30 mins, cook time 20-25 mins.

Tips and additions:

If, unlike us, you like onions and want to add them, saute a few in a little butter before adding the chicken, veggies and cheese.
Hubby added some rosemary to his portion.
This would be yummy with leftover turkey…maybe try this after Thanksgiving.

Socks, Socks and More Socks!

Once again I’ve been neglecting my blog in favor of spending time with my kids during the summer and crafting.  Just yesterday I took the boys to the Auntie Shannon’s house and we went swimming in her condo’s pool.  It was a lot of fun.  We actually haven’t been swimming all summer and both boys really enjoyed it.  Even Bug taught himself to go underwater and Fidget was enjoying jumping in when he was wearing his floaties.  Everyone was thoroughly tuckered out, including me.  I could barely focus on our roleplaying game last night and didn’t even have the focus to work on the vanilla pattern sock I’m currently working on.

We’ve also been spending a lot of time at our local library.  Every summer they have the “Summer Reading Program.”  Kids are encouraged to read so many minutes a week and they earn little prizes for their success.  The culmination is an ice cream social with a magician.   This summer the kids made dream pillows (Bug’s was a mouse in space wearing a space helmet so he didn’t eat his cheese house), worry dolls (Bug’s was a ninja), wind chimes using clay pots, and they even tasted jelly beans to vote on the best tasting.  Bug read over 25 hours!  He’s still reading, too, even though the program ended.  He’s got a stack of books that he personally checked out on his own library card!

On the crafting front, I’ve been mostly working on socks.  Since my last craft post I’ve finished 6 more pairs of sock, a Bullseye stuffy and got most of the Spring Flowers blanket done.  Here are some pictures of my complete projects.

These are a pair of belated birthday socks to myself.  For my birthday I went to the awesome LYS, Trumpet Hill, and picked out some sock yarn.  When I was there I was introduced by the wonderful staff, to Opal’s Van Gogh Sock yarn.  The awesome yarn designers took the colors from some of Van Gogh’s famous paintings and turned them into yummy yarns!  Since it was late in the month, Trumpet Hill was running low on colorways, so I picked out a skein of In Variation Nach.  I asked if there was a colorway of Starry Night, since it is one of my favorite Van Gogh paintings (we have a print hanging in our living room) and there was, but they didn’t have it in stock.  Fast forward a couple weeks and I saw on Facebook they’d received a new shipment of the Van Gogh yarn and when I asked, they said they had Starry Night!  Squee!  I rushed over that evening to pick up a skein and also came home with a skein of Vase with Sunflowers, too!  Of course I cast on the first sock as soon as I got home!

Van Gogh's Starry Night Socks

Van Gogh’s Starry Night Socks

Barbara (Knittin and Kittens) and I did a KAL (Knit Along) for these interestingly designed socks called Carousel Socks.  We both stumbled over this pattern on Pinterest and decided to give it a try together.  I’m glad we did.  These socks had very interesting construction and we ran into the same issues together, which made getting through the project a little easier.  We’ve both decided that while it was nice to learn a new technique, we probably won’t be making these again any time soon.  They are comfy, though and I do wear mine regularly.

Carousel Socks

Carousel Socks

Upon finishing the Carousel Socks, Barbara and I decided to venture into the world of Sideways Socks.  This was another pattern that had a unique construction.  We made some major modifications to the pattern after reading notes from others on Ravelry.  I’m glad we did because otherwise our socks would have come out being knee highs!  We also modified the heel to do increases and then decreases around the other side and Kitchener the seam at the top rather than cutting the yarn and rejoining.  I think we’re both agreed again that while it was nice to learn something new, we won’t be making these again any time soon!  lol

Sideways Socks

Sideways Socks

I’ve also been getting ready for a craft fair in September.  I’ve got some baby blankets and some baby bibs done, but want to have some socks as well.  I pulled out some worsted weight (thick yarn) and made these Broken Rib socks.  They will make great boot socks for someone (with a size 9 foot) here in the great northeast during the cold winter!  They are very thick, cushy and warm!

Broken Rib Socks

Broken Rib Socks

Another pair of socks for the craft fair are these Pink Camouflage socks.  These are a size 9/10.  I kind of like this colorway for myself, but I’m going to save them for selling.

Pink Camo Socks

Pink Camo Socks

I’ve also started on another pair of striped socks for the craft fair.  I have a feeling these are going to be identically striped socks…fingers crossed, anyway.  It’s the same yarn and colorway I used for the Carousel socks.  It’s called Harlequin.  I really like this color and stripes, so I may have to pick up some more to make myself a pair.  I currently plan to make this pair of socks a size 7/8 so I can have a variety of sizes.

Harlequin Socks

Harlequin Socks

I also finished a pair of socks for Darling Hubby.  His “Whether He Wants Them or Not” Socks.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture.  He’s worn them and they are ok.  He said they were a bit slippery and I noticed that they stretched a bit more than I thought.  I think that’s the yarn I used, which is a bit of a heavier sock/fingering weight.  It’s a learning experience.

I also finished a Bullseye amigurumi for Fidget.  He’s on a Toy Story kick.  He loves anything and everything to do with Buzz and Woody.  He has a big stuffed Woody and Buzz, little mini ones and even a talking Woody.  The one thing he didn’t have was Bullseye.  I searched Ravelry high and low for a pattern that I could turn into Bullseye and the wonderful April Draven made one called “Brown Pony” that was exactly what I’d been searching for.  Apparently it had to be renamed because apparently someone was unhappy with it’s former name.    I actually managed to whip this little guy out in 24 hours!

Woody and Bullseye

Ride Like the Wind, Bullseye!

I’ve also been working on the Spring Flowers blanket.  It’s been tough working on it since it’s been so hot…I just don’t want to sit under a hot blanket on an 80* day.  I’m getting to the finish line, though.  I’ve gotten most of the border done and then I need to weave in all those ends…I’m kinda dreading that!  lol

So, that’s it for now.  Kind of a big ol’ Finished Object Friday post…