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.  🙂

 

 

Shop/Craft Update – Let’s Get This Blog Going Again!

I really suck at this blogging thing…with the end of school and the summer having the boys home I just never found a quiet moment to sit and type.  I’ve had ideas floating through my brain for what I could write about, but never put my fingers to the keyboard.  With school starting back up this Thursday I’ll have the house to myself for almost 6 hours a day!  Yay for peace and quiet!  

I still have my normal housework to attend to, but I’m sure without someone underfoot or needing me to do something or help with something I can get it all done fairly quickly.  I also plan on working on my shop/stock, advertising, and my crafting/spinning.

I currently have 3 knitting projects in the works.  The first is a hat, following this Cabled Dad Hat pattern, worked in Premier Yarns Alpaca Dance.  It’s a lovely silver color (silver fog) and is super soft.  It has a slight aura to it as well.  I’m 4 repeats into the first chart.  I’m not sure if I’m going to keep it or not.  I haven’t decided just yet.

The second pattern I’m working on is for 4 year old Fidget.  I’m making him a new pair of socks.  I’d planned to get it done before he starts school – he’s going into Pre-k this year – but I just didn’t get it in progress in time.  I finished the first sock today and with a little luck I can get them finished by next week. 

The last thing I’m working on is a shawl.  I’m actually using my own handspun for this project.  It’s a mix of corriedale, finn, and rambouillet cross spun into a laceweight singles yarn.  I called the colorway Little House on the Prairie because it’s a brownish green mix that reminded me of the cabin and the fields from the old 1970’s TV show.  I just finished watching the 3rd season on dvd with the intention of watching the rest when I get around to checking them out from the library.  The shawl is knitting up very nicely, using this Swallowtail Shawl pattern.  I think I made a mistake in the last row that I worked, but thankfully I put in a lifeline strand so hopefully I won’t lose too much of my work when I “tink” it back.  

As for my shop I’ve done some new colorways that I’m really proud of.  My favorite so far is Laetiporus, which was inspired by an awesome shelf fungus that I found in the woods at my parents house.  You are probably thinking, “Eewww!  A Fungus!  That’s disgusting!”  That’s where I think you are wrong…just look at this amazing, bright color that was created by nature.  

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Here is the colorway that I created.  This is dyed on a Merino/Firestar blend (85/15), this bright colorway closely matches the inspiration photo and sparkles slightly like it’s dew covered!  Click the image for the etsy listing.

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I’ve also been spinning, too.  I recently finished up an amazing faux cashmere handspun from fiber that I dyed myself.  This bright colorway is called Neon Lights and is available in my Etsy Shop.  This has all the amazing softness of cashmere without the high ticket price of the real thing!  

A2014-08-01 11.27.25Well, it’s almost bedtime for the boys.  Hopefully this post won’t be the last one for another 5 months.  I really do have plans to update this blog more often.  I may even try to offer photo or video tutorials.  

 

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!

2012 Ups and Downs

2012 is over and done.  It wasn’t a bad year.  Lots of good things happened with the bad and I’m thankful for all of it.

Probably the biggest thing that happened was figuring out my soy allergy/sensitivity.  Call it what you will, but I’ve been doing fantastically since cutting out every last little bit of the nasty substance.  Only once in a blue moon (I’m talking really only once every 2-3 months) will I have an episode and only after eating things that I know I shouldn’t eat!   I’m really glad that Darling Hubby was able to figure it out and that it wasn’t milk.  Despite the friendships I lost during the whole brouhaha, I feel I’m better for having the whole thing happen.  I’m feeling better overall.  I don’t wake up feeling like crap every morning and don’t go to sleep in pain every night.  And, it was all because I simply changed my diet.  Who’d have thunk it?

Another good thing that happened was that I learned how to knit socks.  I’ve made 14 pairs of socks since the start of March.  They are all pretty simple socks, but I love them simple. I’m not a real fancy lace and pattern girl.  I even challenged myself to do some unusually constructed socks like the carousel socks and the sideways socks.  Unfortunately, I didn’t finish the Owlie socks my friend Barbara and I started as a knit along.  I just had a bunch of other projects come up that took precedence.   I wear a knitted pair of socks practically every day and most members of my family have received a pair of socks at some point.  The only one who hasn’t is Fidget…

Another good (and bad) thing was that I opened my own shop on Etsy.  It’s been open since April and I’ve only had one online sale and that was a custom order for a friend…but, the recipient of that custom order Cthulhu hat is delighted with it, so that’s what really matters.  I will admit that most of my sales have been off etsy to friends or at the craft fair I did in September with some of the girls from the library knitting group.  I made 3 blankets for a friend from back home for her to give for Christmas gifts.  I also made another blanket for someone at the knitting group at the public library after she fell in love with one of the 3 that I made.  I haven’t had much time to do my own knitting lately because I’ve been doing projects for the shop.  I’m still excited to have the shop open…I’m just a little disappointed that it hasn’t done as well as I’d hoped.

Another good thing is that I went to Rhinebeck for the first time for the Sheep and Wool Festival.  It’s where I got bitten by the spinning bug.  I came home with a drop spindle and taught myself to spin yarn on it.  Of course I couldn’t just stop with that.  I’ve fallen in love with wheel spinning.  I’ve been getting better by leaps and bounds and just learned how to Navajo ply and I might even list this most recent yarn in my etsy shop (if I can talk myself out of keeping it!)  I’m hoping to save up enough money to buy my own wheel at some point.  I’ve tried a Kromski Sonota and an Ashford Kiwi and so far I really like the Kiwi, despite the nasty creak that it has in one of the treadles.  But, I’ve heard that Ashfords have a tendency to creak…lol

The bad was, thankfully, few and far between.  Things didn’t really start to get bad until November, which seems to be a pretty crappy month for many people.  Darling Hubby was off for the week of Thanksgiving and we woke up that Monday to a very cold house.  Despite the fact that the furnace was running all the radiators were stone cold.  Turns out the circulator pump blew and a day of waiting for the technician to come to fix it and $700 later we had a warm house.  Thankfully we have the wood fireplace for back-up warmth…then, Darling Hubby had to have his car inspected and that needed $400 worth of work…so in 2 days we’d spent over $1100…and we hadn’t even started to buy Christmas presents.

Probably the worst and absolute last thing that happened in 2012 was that on New Years Eve around 9:30 pm, our little dog Spiral passed away peacefully in her box.  It’s something that we’ve been expecting could happen at any time due to her age and health, but it was pretty sudden how it happened.  Literally it was she was alive one minute and gone the next.

We came home early from a New Years party, Darling Hubby walked the dogs and I started ushering the kids upstairs.  I filled the dogs water bowl (both dogs were happy and dancing around) and headed upstairs to do the bedtime routine while Darling Hubby went out to plow out the bottom of the driveway, thanks to not 1, but 2 plows coming through right after we got home.  Anyway, Fidget left his new Buzz Lightyear downstairs and wanted to sleep with it, so I went down to get it.  I noticed Spiral was laying with her nose down in the blanket and not on her paws like normal and I got no response when I called her name.  I’d seriously only been upstairs 10 minutes.

It came as a complete shock to both me and Darling Hubby as to how sudden it was, but like I said it was expected.  We’d had her for over 9 years and she was estimated to be around 2 when we adopted her.  She had bad teeth and a severe heart murmur that had progressed into congestive heart failure where she was constantly coughing, but she was still active, ate well and seemed happy.  I’m thankful that she seemed to go peacefully and that she’s in a better place and has hopefully been reunited with her best friend, Grace, who passed away nearly 2 years ago.

So, the bulk of 2012 was good (oh, and I should add that we didn’t die in the apocalypse that didn’t happen!)  I can only hope that 2013 is even better!

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…