Saturday, November 17, 2007

Haven't been blogging because I have class

...two classes, to be exact. I've been taking Biology and Chemistry plus labs for each and both have been going a lightning speed. Chemistry in particular is bending my brain in all kinds of strange ways, especially since we have an overview that includes Organic Chemistry for the last half of the semester. Functional groups and reactions...oh, my. I have my second Chemistry midterm next week, so this weekend I'll be holed up at the library and Starbucks studying until my brain is about to explode. Looks like I'm getting an A in Biology, and possibly an A in Chemistry if I really work hard between in the next few weeks. Then I go on to Anatomy & Physiology next semester (insert the sound o f doom: "dum dum DUM") which will be far more challenging. And I have to get an A there, both for my GPA and because I really need to understand anatomy so I can give the best possible patient care once I'm through. But at least it's the only class I'll be taking, so I should have a little more breathing room. All of this as part of pre-requisites to get into nursing school and then get a Master's degree so I can become a Nurse Practitioner. Long plan, but I can't wait!

I'm doing just fine, just insanely busy. Add in two trips last month, a dress to sew for a wedding last month, Halloween costumes to make, and the news that my baby sister is pregnant for the first time (knitting her a Mommy Snug - only have the arms left to finish) and there's just no time for blogging, much less sleep. I keep trying to even get on and *read* blogs, my email, anything, but just haven't have time with studying so far. I feel so bad for my poor neglected blog, but you have to have priorities, right? Looks like I'm getting an A in Biology, and possibly an A in Chemistry if I really work hard between in the next few weeks. Then I go on to Anatomy & Physiology next semester (insert the sound o f doom: "dum dum DUM") which will be more challenging. But at least it's the only class I'll be taking, so I should have a little more breathing room.

Hoping I'll have a chance to be a bit more social starting in January :-)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pink baby set finished

Finally got around to finishing the sweater and matching bonnet for my soon to be born niece. The sweater is Elizabeth Zimmerman's sweater on two needles from Knitter's Almanac. I knit the sleeves in the round instead of flat, eliminating some seaming later on. I used Plymouth Encore in a really pretty heathered pink for the yarn and some mother of pearl buttons to add a bit of sweetness. The bonnet pattern I found here, changing the stitch pattern from feather and fan to gull wing to match the sweater. I really like the end result and hope they'll keep my niece warm and toasty once she's here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Life is slowing back down again

Arden had another trip to the ER on Tuesday for a round of IV fluids and some nausea medication, but since then he's slowly been getting better. His cheeks are starting to fill out again, though his legs and arms are so very thin and slight. He hasn't been back to school yet, but has his pediatrician's OK to go back on Monday with no PE for another week. He's starting to feel better enough to want to play and ride his bike, which the Ped says he can't do for another two weeks (the movement and potential for falling could pull or tear things internally while he's healing). Poor sweetie - he's in that in between place where he feels sooo much better, but still tired and sick and cranky. But he's smiling and laughing and giggling and back to very close to his old self, which does my heart good.

Now to get myself back to being productive. Have I knit, sewn, cooked much beyond survival fare, gardened or done much of anything besides read and watch TV in the last week and a half? Not a heck of a lot. I've picked green beans, crookneck squash and cucumbers, and I did cut out some pajamas for the boys, but nothing else at all. Time to catch up on sleep and get going before I start classes on the 24th.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Jane, stop this crazy thing!

This is what I've been thinking off and on for the past few days. Life has been a crazy, crazy ride lately. We spent Labor Day weekend running around, looking at potential cars. Learned that there are some good dealerships nearby and some really scary ones we will forever avoid (Jay Lee Honda on McLoughlin, for those in the Portland area). Finally ended up with a brand new to us 2006 Subaru Outback, which we all love.

Tuesday morning the boys went back to school. They were both so excited and grinning from ear to ear when we got there. Arden couldn't wait to finally have lunch at school, and Ryan was happy there were kids he knew in class this year. Both came home with lots to share. Meanwhile, I ran around like crazy doing errand after errand since I had time sans children. Ditto on day two for all of us - many smiles, much busyness on my part, fresh start of school feeling all around.

Then came dinner. Arden ate just a tiny bit of cereal and milk, then suddenly looked pale, said "I feel full" and vomited all over the floor in an enormous gush. This went on for hours, until finally we were able to get him to bed. But the vomiting continued and he wasn't even really waking up - he'd start retching while on his back and not move at all, which really scared Dan and me. Around 11:30 I called the nurse line and they told me to take him to the ER, which I was pretty much expecting at that point. He just didn't seem right at all in any way.

I'll fast forward through a lot here. Diarrhea added to the mix at midnight. Older nurse who stuck him three times trying to get an IV in and actually had the gall to get mad at him for it. Around 3:00 am on Thursday were were told that Arden had appendicitis and that he needed to go to the local children's hospital. Quick ambulance trip and we were there. Fever started a few hours later. Surgery later that morning. Bad, bad reaction to the Versed they gave him before the surgery. He shook and clenched his whole body while grunting like an animal and looking terrified for over an hour :-( Still vomiting and some diarrhea that day and even small sips of water came right back up. They think he had a virus or bug on top of the appendicitis. Friday consisted of trying to get him to try clear liquids and hopefully get him out of bed. He managed a few saltines and some soda and a trip to the play room. More throwing up, but less. By Saturday he was ready to come home, and by 1:00 he was here. He's eaten a tiny bit since then - two bottles of Ensure, an animal cracker, and a quarter piece of toast - but ultimately none of it has stayed down.

Arden looks like a little old man right now. He has no strength and has lost weight that he didn't have to lose. I called in to the doctor on call and the thought now is that his reflux was untreated since Wednesday and that, combined with all the vomiting, means everything is irritated and raw right now so nothing is staying down long. So we're trying to keep a bit of food in his stomach and get his reflux medication down as well.

I keep seeing Arden bouncing and jumping on Tuesday morning and hoping I see that little guy again very soon. We're seeing small flashes - a smile or a laugh here and there -so things are slowly getting better.

Once he's feeling fine, can I please ask the world to slow down for a moment so I can catch my breath?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Random Tuesday

I'm over the mange! And I've been working on a few random things. No pictures, though. Slap me on the wrist - I'm a terrible blogger.

Saturday I hung around with a few PDX Knitbloggers for a wee bit over at Abundant Yarn, rounding up a skein of the prettiest sock yarn. Mmmm.....those are going to be Cat Bordhi socks of some sort very, very soon. The plan was to do a yarn crawl of four (five?) yarn stores, with a nip over to Pix for some dessert along the way in honor of the lovely Judy's birthday. I only had time for the first leg of the trip, but got to hang out and talk and generally have a good time before getting more errands done.

Having one car is a bit inconvenient, but mostly just involves more planning. I did grocery shopping on Saturday and grabbed some things at the fabric store as well. I was working on a muslin for a dress to wear to a wedding we're going to in October. So very glad I decided to make a muslin first. There were some big problems with the pattern pieces. Nothing that can't be fixed, but I'm glad to have worked them out in practice with lots of time on my hands.

Sunday we went to a picnic at Dabney State Park with a group from PortlandFood. The park is gorgeous and the weather was perfect: sunny but not too hot at all. The food was delicious, as it's bound to be with a bunch of foodies, and wonder of wonders - all the children got along! That was a thing to behold. Couldn't have asked for a nicer afternoon.

We got home in time to drop off the boys at "Grandma Camp" and then promptly looked at each other and said, "Hey, we have no children! What should we do about this?" The plan had been to get back later, drop off the boys, then drive the half mile back home with Dan's car and my MIL's as well. I had an MRI scheduled for early yesterday morning* and we all figured it'd be easier that way. We decided to go see a movie since we rarely get a chance and quickly drove off to catch a showing of Stardust.

LOVED that movie! It's a perfect fairy tale: action, adventure, some dark moments, hope, love, incredibly funny bits, and the most gorgeous scenery. By the end most of the audience cried just a little, but they were good tears. If you like The Princess Bride, you have to see this movie. We'll definitely own it once it comes out on DVD.

This week is count down until school starts next Tuesday. The boys are nervous, and Ryan has an especially hard time each year because of all the changes: new classroom, new grade, new teacher, new classmates. When you're autistic, new is not your friend at all. So I'm trying to help both of them with a lot of talking and hugs and reassurance. I go back to school on the 25th, so I'm a bit nervous as well but at least have more time to get ready.

There - all the news that's fit to print. I promise pictures of the baby sweater (almost done) and the muslin from #$%@ next time.

*I still have the tremor and other odd things going on, so I got an MRI of my neck and a bunch of blood tests - 13 vials of blood. Bleh. I can now say I hat MIRs of all sorts, and especially hate the contrast dye they use. It all feels really strange and uncomfortable and icky and I don't want one again, please.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I have the Plague

Well, not the actual Plague, but it sure feels that bad. The whole house has been sick since last weekend, with high fevers, lots of vomiting, and piercing headaches and fatigue all around. We've been living on congee and soups, soft scrambled eggs, dry toast and lot of tea and watered down orange juice. The boys and I are going stir crazy since neither of them has been well enough to play outside and have been too contagious to hang out with Grandma. I've been morosely trying to knit here and there on the couch (a February Sweater from Elizabeth Zimmerman for my soon to be born niece), but have mostly been resting and waiting for this to blow over.

Even my car is sick. Scratch that. It's essentially in it's death throes. We took it to the mechanic yesterday for a tune up and a check of a few things that haven't seemed right for a long time, and the list of things that are wrong is over two pages long. Official diagnosis from the mechanic? Get a new car. This is an unhappy surprise, since the plan was to limp this car (which isn't even that old - it's a 99 Saturn) until I'm out of school and bringing in another paycheck. So much for that plan. At this point, fixing it just so it's safe to drive NOW would cost $1,700, which is crazy since we know we need to replace it as soon as we can. So in the meantime we're running on one car, with me driving Dan to Vancouver in the morning and picking him up again with boys in tow on days I need to drive, and staying home on days I don't. We're racing to figure out what kind of car to buy: something inexpensive, good gas mileage, safe, reliable, one that *actually* seats 5 (instead of that pie in the sky dealership "seats five!" that really means three supermodels might fit in the back seat comfortably), ideally with a hatchback or good cargo space in back. Nothing fancy, just something I can drive for the next 5 years or so until I'm working again and we can afford to be picky. Edmunds is now my friend.

I was supposed to be posting about meeting Cat Bordhi, which was amazing. She looks at the world in such a different, beautiful way. It's not just intelligence, which she has plenty of, but an almost childlike wonder at the world around us and how it all works, something she shares with scientists and people who create things most of us can hardly fathom. On top of all of that, she's a genuinely nice and approachable person and gives a really interesting talk. And can she ever knit! It was an inspirational night in the truest sense of the word, and I'm happy I went. And thankful to my friend Vicki Jean, who guided us to a fun sushi place for dinner before and showed me the ropes of the MAX system.

Also never thought that bringing a plastic fork would win me a prize! I was making an amulet pouch for a friend of mine and wanted a nice, smooth cord instead of a crocheted strand. I've always wanted to learn how to use a lucet, but didn't happen to actually have one around. Hmmm. What could I use? Immediately rummaged through the "party supplies" box until I found a strong plastic fork, broke the two inner tines off, and voila, a home made lucet! Now, to learn how to use it. I roamed all over the web, finally coming across these instructions. Studied them, swore a lot, then finally got the idea and I was cording like a mad fool. Well, slooooooowly cording like a mad fool. It takes a lot longer than making I-cord, but the end result is so much nicer. Smooth, firm, a bit stretchy, and perfect for this project.

I took the fork along with me to Cat's book signing since I figured it was a pretty nifty trick and wanted to show my PDX knit buddies. I had just finished showing them what I was using it for when Tina from Blue Moon announced games....with yarn prizes! Oh, joy! I've never, ever had a skein of Socks that Rock in my life and desperately wanted to get my hands on some, but sadly they weren't selling any that night. I perked right up at the mention of yarn prizes, and what do you know, the very first one was "most unusual thing in your knitting bag". I waved that fork high in the air, and next thing you know I was up front, explaining what the heck I was using it for and selecting my very first ever skein of Socks that Rock. It's medium weight "Hollyday", and I'm beyond thrilled. I keep petting it. And I gave my fork and a good long strand of the cording to Cat, since she was so tickled at the whole idea :-)

Bobbie gave me two pairs of Groucho glasses to try to cheer me up. It worked - it's incredibly hard to be down when you're wearing goofy glasses and a fake nose. Here's the picture of the boys wearing them once I got home:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sockapalooza socks - mine!

My wonderful and talented sock pal, Mandy, sent these well within the deadline (unlike me!). I got them last week on a day that was feeling really lousy,and they literally made my day. I promised myself I wouldn't post until I was finally done with the socks I needed to send out (motivation), but now I can share.

And last, but certainly not least: on my very thankful feet. This is where I like to sit best, in a glider rocker and ottoman that are sooo incredibly comfortable. As are the socks! They fit perfectly, are soft and stretchy, and the colors are a rich blend of deep reds, purples, with a wee flash of deep green from time to time. The yarn is WildFoote in "Ragtime", and I'll have to search some out and play with it on my own sometime.
Many, many thanks, Mandy! I love the socks and the whole package made me smile.

Sockapalooza socks, finished

Thank you all so much for all of your support and comments. They all warmed my heart and made me smile, which helps more than I can say. I still miss Tabby in all kinds of odd moments, but I'm feeling a lot better.

As proof, I finally finished my Sockapalooza 4 socks! I know, there hasn't even been a mention that I was working on them, but I was. Rather late. Way back when this fourth sock exchange started I did a little mental math: hmmm, due in August, which is after my sister's problem. Several weeks before the wedding, I stared in shock and horror at the finish date for this SP round: August 2nd. My sister's wedding? August 3rd. Sure, I could finish up the shawl and get the socks done on time, aside from another teensy fact: I had a major test to take a few days before we left for the wedding. Studying and knitting may well go together for those talented few who can read and knit at the same time, but not for me. Then Alison amended the finish time to August 7th. I could do this! No problem! I started the socks right before we left for the wedding, figuring I'd work on them while in CA and finish once we got back. No time at all while we were there, though I did do quite a bit of knitting during plane trips. Then we got back and finally mourned properly. Which also doesn't seem to go well with knitting. I emailed my sock pal, apologizing profusely, and she was incredibly sweet and understanding.

Pattern: Rock And Weave
Designed by A. Karen Alfke
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock
Color: Spanish Moss
Buttons: purchased at The Yarn Garden (don't they look just like the cosmos I have growing in the garden?)
Needles: size 5 for the linen stitch cuffs, size 1 1/2 for the rest of the socks
Modifications: None, really. The pattern was really easy to follow and the socks were fun to make up. I've been itching to try this pattern for a very long time and was thrilled that they seem to fit what my pal wants really well. I'll have to make another pair of these for myself very soon!

Monday, August 06, 2007

I'm back

The wedding was beautiful, the trip crazily full of lists, things to do, places to go, and little sleep. My sister is safely on her honeymoon and Dan and I are catching up on sleep. Pictures of all to come soon.

In the meantime, I'm laying quiet for a bit. The night before we left for California was a blur with all the packing, running around, and cleaning. Around midnight I noticed my cat Tabby seemed upset somehow. I reached down and stroked her fur, reassuring her that it was just a trip, that we'd be back soon, that everything was just fine. She purred and leaned her body into my hand as I calmed her, and I went off to bed. Dan and I both hit the ground running at 5:00 the next morning since we needed to leave by 5:30. I went to get my suitcase by the top of the stairs, looked down, and saw Tabby on the floor. She was gone. From what I can tell, she must have waited until we went to bed to die. I knew this was coming - she'd been losing weight and hurting from time to time the last few months and we guessed her tumor had come back - but it still hit me really hard.

I remember when Tabby was a tiny kitten, so small she fit in both hands. She was smart, beautiful, and so graceful. She loved to play and was full of life. She also had an attitude many times her size and preferred life on her terms. She didn't like most people, though she tolerated Dan and the boys well enough. She was cranky and vocal and a pain, but I loved her all the more for her less than lap cat ways. She saw me through some really hard times, always curling right up against me and purring like a motor whenever I was nearby. She was a fighter, always top cat even when the other cats in question were twice her size. And she managed to fight that cancer for ten months. Feisty all the way to the end.

Tabby had two loves in life: getting outside (which we didn't allow) and food. I got her ashes back today, and we're going to sprinkle them over in the corner garden. I think that's where she'd want to be - out in the sunlight, surrounded by places to hide and chase bugs and birds, able to see nap in the cool grass and nibble flowers from time to time.

The house feels too empty right now. I keep waiting to see her come down the stairs at night, waiting until we come up to bed. I cry when I see her cat bed, knowing she won't ever get to sleep there again. And our bed is all wrong without her there. I was her person for seventeen and a half years, and I miss her sorely.

Monday, July 30, 2007

My baby sister's getting married!

So I finished the shawl at long last, then vanished into the ether. Not so: I've been incredibly busy getting ready! I had more things to make before the wedding. Like ties for the boys. Really run to make, and so much nicer than anything we found while shopping.

And a purse for me. The purse is a bit special: the black fabric came from a jacket that belonged to my grandma who died when I was only five, the pin is hers as well, and the green silk I made into a dress for another wedding (and Dan helped me pick out the fabric back when we were just friends). I love how it came out.

Oh, and here's the dress I'll be wearing on Friday afternoon. It has a corset back and oh, my, I feel so elegant and special in it. Dan's eyes light up when I try it on, too. I had to hem it quite a bit (the perils of being five foot one), but now it fits like a dream.

All of this preparation has a purpose: to help my sister finally marry the man of her dreams. She's all grown up now at thirty five, but to me she'll always be my baby sister, partner in crime, queen of hide and seek, the one I told my secrets to. These past few weeks have been a blur between knitting the shawl and preparing for our trip out to California to be there when she gets to marry her best friend. I couldn't be happier for her or more excited for what life has to bring her way.

We're leaving first thing in the morning and won't be back until Sunday, hopefully with pictures!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Almost Cobweb Crepe Shawl, complete

I can't believe I finally finished the shawl for my sister's wedding. The edging went on for seemingly miles and miles, but I finally grafted the ends together, blocked it out, and got a chance to sit back and marvel at the airiness and loveliness of it. The pattern is simple, yet elegant. I made more mistakes along the way than I can count, but those mistakes are part of being human and proof that someone made this with imperfect hands.
Pattern: "Cobweb Crepe Shawl" from the book Heirloom Knitting by Sharon Miller
Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18 in white
Needles: US size 4s for the center garter stitch section, two long size 3 circulars for the wider Old Shale border(I knit that in the round), then size 2 for the final Clematis edging
Modifications: The Zephyr is a larger gauge than the cobweb yarn specified, so I had to adjust the original number of stitches for the center section and do a bunch of math to end up with everything the correct size and have the edgings and center balance well. I also knit the Clematis edge without picots, which I think works much better with a larger yarn.Here is my favorite picture of all. The chair belonged to my great grandmother, and it's the same chair Dan sat on when he looked at me, face shiny with tears, and asked me to marry him. I thought it right that my sister's shawl should rest here for a moment.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Look what I got in the mail!

My apron swap buddy Tara has been under the weather, and that's an understatement. She's been pretty sick, and not only that but her sewing machine decided now would be a great time to get sick as well. Despite all of this, she made me the cutest apron! I absolutely love it. We'd agreed on an Asian theme of sorts, which this has in spades.

Look at the charms at the waist (that's my view, looking down). I was oohing and aahing over the apron, flouncing around the house in it, and then I stuck my hands in the front pocket.

Wait...what's this? A necklace that matches the apron and most of my wardrobe (click to take a better look - it's gorgeous!). I'm so touched that she took the time to make something so beautiful, especially with everything going on in her life. Thank you, Tara!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Turning a corner

Literally! I started the Clematis edging on the Almost Cobweb Crepe Shawl and just turned the corner. This is the first time I've done a lace edging that attaches as you go, so it was a little nerve-wracking at first but simple once I figured it all out. The shawl still looks like an odd blob of itty bitty yarn, but I'm starting to see stretches of finished edge, which is exciting. I have to finish this before we leave on the 31st, so I'm knitting like mad at the moment.

I'm doing the Clematis edge without the picots (as per sister), and I really like how it's coming out. The final double yarn overs make a nice outer edge and should fall into really pretty waves once I block this out. Good call, Laurie!

In other news, I just took my first test in almost ten years. Food and Nutrition, when it's aimed at nurses to be, is a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Lots of chemistry, lots of detail, lots of studying. So I was a bit worried when I took the first test on Tuesday, since I really need to get an A in this and all of my other pre-requisite classes so I can get accepted into nursing school.

Got an A :-)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Portland sure has a lot of knit bloggers

I went to the first PDX Knit Bloggers meet up tonight. First I made my way over to West Linn to meet Patty, who offered to carpool with me. Well, I went along for the ride while she used the GPS and got us right where we wanted to be - Knit Purl. As we walked in, I thought it seemed pretty empty, at least until one of the staff there pointed us downstairs. That's more like it! A room filled with knitters, cookies, brownies, and glasses of water. Perfect! Sat myself down, and eventually we all introduced ourselves. The smarter, more well prepared ones had cards to pass out. Oops. But I did write down names and blogs. Oh, and while I was doggedly writing out the chart for my shawl edge, completely oblivious, a gorgeous deep eggplant skein of ShiBui Merino Kid yarn landed right in my lap! Knit Purl had door prizes for people with stickers underneath their chairs, but one prize went unaccounted for. So it was tossed into the air and right to me. Reward for working so hard, or karma, I'll take it.

You can't quite see everyone(and the ones here are only make up half the PDX Knit Bloggers list), but here are:

That was so much fun! Great group of people, all kinds of beautiful (and soft) projects to ogle, luscious yarns to drool over at Knit Purl. We'll have to all do this again soon!

(oops - missed Natalie, who is now on the list)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

My apron got to Canada!

My apron swap buddy, Tara, has been having several not so good things going on in her life lately. I'm so glad the apron got there and cheered her up a bit - she loved it! So now, of course, I can share pictures.

I went to the fabric store, looking for something Asian themed and colorful. Already had the pattern (Butterick 4945), which I was going to play with a bit. This geisha fabric jumped out and said, "pick me!", so I had no choice. Then I looked all over for a good contrast fabric and found some subtly patterned deep blue that went really well.

I used the contrast fabric for the neck ties, figuring it would frame the neckline really well. Also added contrast pockets to give it a little oomph:

Contrast ties on the back (like the lovely ironing board dress form?):

Here's a closer look at the fabric. Now if I only knew what it read in Japanese...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Twenty eight rows later...

Hmmmmm. It's hard to tell much of anything by the picture (lace is famously unphotogenic before it's been blocked. I also swear the shawl isn't yellow - what happened?), but I don't think that's a wide enough border. Do I add a third twenty eight row repeat? It looks like that might be just about right. I keep trying to take some kind of wild stab at how large the shawl will be, but putting a tape measure against this airy blob it a bit like wrangling a bunch of wet noodles - everything keeps slipping and sliding as I try to find a flat surface. The goal is a smallish shawl, one that will go nicely over my sister's very petite shoulders and that will eventually wrap well around a tiny niece or nephew (hence the square shape). Sigh. I was hoping this second repeat would be enough, but it just isn't wide enough against the garter stitch center. Have to get this border done so I can get cracking on the outside border - I only have twenty nine days left!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A month and a half with no shampoo

Hard to believe, but it's been that long since I've shampooed my hair. I've managed to streamline things a little in the meantime. I have a lightweight mug that I keep next to a bottle of white vinegar and a jar filled with baking soda. Before a shower I add some baking soda to the mug and grab the bottle of vinegar. Most days, I just use around a tablespoon of baking soda in around a cup of water (nice and warm from the shower head), but if I'm feeling really grungy I use it straight, rubbing my scalp well. I've learned to use a lot less vinegar - maybe a teaspoon in over a cup of water - to use as a final rinse. The vinegar (or lemon juice) is important, since the baking soda opens up the cuticle of the hair, so you need a very weak acid to close up the cuticle and make things shiny. But you don't need much at all.

I love my hair now. It's shiny, full of body, and it behaves better than it ever did before. I have gotten questions on how well this regimen does with removing styling aids from hair, and I just don't know since I don't use anything on my hair. I have heard that there's less need for products when you go the no 'poo route, and I would guess that the baking soda would remove just about anything, but I don't know. I'm really happy with my hair, and using the baking soda and vinegar doesn't end up taking any more time than a shampoo and rinse so there's no extra effort. I also love how cheap this is! Does my frugal soul good. Also no scary chemicals or additives to worry about getting into me or my environment. Very nice.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Mystery plant(s)

This year was my first attempt at companion planting. Also known as "put plants that play well together next to each other". Now, I'm still learning about gardening in general so I'm figuring all of this out as I go. I read that green onions and carrots are great planted together since the onions have very shallow roots and tend to keep some bugs away and the carrots obviously go much deeper. So I cheerfully sowed a bunch of carrot seed and then a bunch of green onion seed and waited for them to grow.

Here's the rub. Did I mention that I'm a bit new to gardening? I didn't know what green onion sprouts looked like. So when a bunch of thin green sprouts came up, all was well. Or so I thought. But now I'm staring at a thicket of something that is definitely not onion of any sort. Whatever it is, it's growing like a weed, but it can't be a weed since it did come from one of my seed packets. Just not the green onion packet. I did have some flower seeds, but I don't recognize these at all.

Anyone want to venture a guess?

Saturday, June 30, 2007

To picot or not to picot

That is the question. This is a swatch of the final "Clematis" edging for the almost Cobweb Crepe shawl. It's going to be knitted sideways around the Old Shale border I'm finishing up now. The picots (those little triangular bits with a hole in the middle of each one) are optional, and I'm not sure if the design would be better with them or without. I'll leave the final decision to my lovely bride to be sister Laurie (please comment at the bottom, Laurie!), but I'm curious to see what others think as well.

With picots:

Without picots (imagine the rounded bits curving a little at the edge - the edge wouldn't be flat or a straight line):

What say you?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Actual, bona fide knitting progress!

I know it doesn't look much bigger, but trust me - it is. I just finished the 28th row of the Old Shale border pattern, which is halfway through that border. Well, at least in terms of rows. Since each row gets progressively larger, I'm not quite that far yet. But doesn't it look much more like lace now? I need to finish this almost Cobweb Crepe shawl by August 3rd, so I'm working hard on it right now. I still have a bit of a tremor, but I'm plowing through regardless. My sister needs something home made and special on her wedding day and I'll finish it if it kills me. Though I'd prefer to just finish.

Speaking of finishing things, I left my job with the Grocery Game after only one month. Initially I felt pathetic for quitting a job so quickly, but it wasn't going to work for me or for my boss. She micromanaged and was passive aggressive, and I couldn't seem to figure out what she needed or wanted from me. Far too much stress for money that we didn't desperately need, especially when this wasn't part of a career path.

So now I have more time for other things like my family, knitting, and my first college class in over nine years. I'm taking nursing pre-requisite course on Food and Nutrition, which is turning out to be harder than I thought. Not so much because of the content, but because I keep having to bite my tongue on things like "artificial sweeteners are very safe and a good alternative to cane sugar" and "a healthy diet should include 2-3 servings of dairy foods every day." Sigh. I'll parrot back what I'm taught and toss out what I don't agree with when I'm done. But it's exciting to finally be back in school and working towards something concrete.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Stone Soup

This Summer, the boys and I decided to have "Open Table" night every Monday. This means all the neighborhood kids can come by on Monday and have dinner at our house. I decided to add a wrinkle and make dinner something everyone could help make as well.

Tonight, we read Stone Soup. For anyone unfamiliar with the story, it involves a soldier on his way home from a war. He stops at a farm house, asking if they can spare any food and give him a place to stay for the night. The farmer sadly tells him they have very little food because of the war and poor harvest that year, so they can't help the soldier. The soldier plucks out a stone from his pocket and tells them he can make a delicious soup from it.

First, fill a pot with water and add the stone. (Then change your mind, drain the water, and decide to saute some stuff first).

Next, add a wee bit of bacon (it was "salted beef" in the story - figured salted pork would do just fine):

Then add onions:

Then carrots:

Then add water, potatoes (oops, no picture) and salt:

Then cook for about half an hour or so. Add sliced cabbage and cook another half hour or so (like all the precise, specific directions here? This is a very exacting dish, let me tell you).

Enlist some child labor to make rolls:


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Last day of school

Today has been a complete whirlwind. The boys were antsy, nervous and excited this morning from the moment each got out of bed. "I'm going to be a FIRST grader today!" "No more school for THREE WHOLE MONTHS!" I got them both off to school and somehow managed to pry a very, very troubled Arden off of me with reassurances that today would be a good day (poor sweetie). Then I scurried through a huge list of errands, since this was my last two hour child free week day time for the next three months. I mailed off the apron, bought some daikon radish and rice sprinkles at the local asian market, bought some things at the drug store, and dropped off books at the library.

Then I swung back around to pick up Arden, who was literally bouncing up and down yelling, "today was the best day ever!" over and over again. Once he gave his teacher a full body hug (the kind that resembles a monkey clinging on to it's mama with hands and feet) and he hugged all his classmates, we walked hand in hand to the car and drove home. Now, he's been despondent at the thought of missing all of his friends during the Summer, actually crying himself to sleep several nights. Dan came up with the best idea: make up some cards with Arden's name, address and phone number and hand them out to everyone on the last day of school. I printed out quarter sheets of paper that read: "I'm going to miss you this Summer! Arden X, address, phone number". I figured a small sheet of paper might get lost in the shuffle of the last school day, so we rolled up each paper and tied them with colorful yarn. He really is going to miss every single child in his class, and several asked for his phone number so the idea was a really good one.

Off we went to have lunch together, the last we'll have on a school day since next year he goes for a full day along with Ryan. Then back to school for a talent show put on by the upper grades, complete with singing, dancing, Tae Kwon Do, and a gymnastics routine set to "White and Nerdy" by Weird Al Yankovic. The Principal thanked everyone for a wonderful year, the bell rang, and suddenly I had a First grader and a Third grader. Sniff!

Both are flying on adrenaline at the moment, so the rest of the day will be interesting. Tonight we're making whole wheat waffles with crushed berries, yogurt and whipped cream for toppings as a special treat, and hopefully soon after that they will crash and fall asleep. Then I have work to do.

Tomorrow is the first day of Summer. Am I prepared in any way? Nope. Ought to be interesting.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I am such a tease

Do not be distracted by the peaceful, sleeping cat. This picture is only present to obscure the fact that there is yet again no visual crafting content of any kind. No updates on the almost Cobweb Crepe Shawl, no crafts with the boys, not even a lone picture of something tasty. I've been a bit busy. Work, getting into bunker mode for Summer (the boys have their last day of school tomorrow.....wish me well and send chocolate), and a secret project. I just finished making an apron for the May Apron Swap over at One Hour Craft. Now, since the swapee and I know each other and I know she reads this blog (and I read hers), we both agreed not to post about the aprons until after everything got over to each other in the mail. Spoils the fun to see pictures ahead of time, you see. But, but, it's so cute! I want to talk about it! So here are the details: it's made out of fabric, it has many colors, there was thread involved, also use of my sewing machine, pins, an iron, and scissors. Oh, and a pattern. Can't you just picture it? One more hint: the fabric is cotton. Pictures....eventually.

In the meantime, if you blog, knit, and live anywhere near Portland, Oregon, go here and comment. Bobbie is working feverishly on putting together a Portland Knit Bloggers group, which should be huge and full of talented, nice people (like Bobbie herself).

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Knitters Are Coming!

On Friday night, I had the most fantastic time. My new buddy Meghan swung around to my house and off we drove to Powell's. Why? To go see Stephanie Pearl McPhee, aka The Yarn Harlot, do a book signing. Now I've been lucky enough to meet her twice before, and knew there were good things ahead.

I came prepared with a bag of Hood strawberry scones (have to share some Oregon goodness, now), cream cheese to spread them with, and of course chocolate covered coffee beans in case of very late or very early flights. I did feel a large twinge of guilt, since the last two times I've seen Stephanie I brought samosas. I wanted to make them this time, I truly did, but I ended up working over 30 hours this week checking coupons against a database and banging my head against the computer desk when the %$&# thing ATE ALL MY DATA. I spent the week in a bleary haze, staring at a computer screen and hoping that eventually I'd all get it done, interspersed with wrangling the boys. Wasn't even sure I'd get to go to Powell's on Friday, but darned if I was going to try. So in a rare moment of sanity I ditched the samosas plan and decided on scones, something I could do quickly and well and that should at least be tasty.

Meghan and I found parking and trotted over to the book store around 5:00. The original plan was to go find seats, get some dinner somewhere close, and come back in time for the signing. Well, when we got there the room had one row of benches, benches with knitters perched on top. The rest of the room was completely empty. We were told they planned on putting chairs out around 6:00, though eventually we managed to convince them to put chairs out earlier. We all sat, knitting and mingling amongst ourselves. I happened upon Rodger, the perfect fearless partner in crime. I look forward to many knitting adventures in the future. I chatted with Pauline, who sadly is blogless but was lovely to talk with. Then off in the corner I spied Bobbie, carrying the most glorious Argosy shawl. Everyone gathered around, stroking it and admiring the colors. Bobbie is sweet and funny and wonderful in person, and I was happy to finally meet her. I giggled over this little miss (her name is Charlotte). Her mama is Heather, and her dad bought her the shirt. I love it!

Eventually, we realized it was far too fun hanging out to leave and grab food somewhere else. Meghan and I illicitly, one at a time, slipped downstairs to purchase our books and grab sustenance from the coffee shop. Food was slipped into knitting bags and smuggled back up into the "Pearl" room, where we munched while no one was the wiser. I love breaking rules.

Finally, Stephanie arrived. Resplendent in her brand new sweater (which was flung off moments later - the room was really hot), she quickly lowered the microphone and began to speak. She warned against the "crochet marauders", spoke of her worries about a wool blight that would lead to yarn store riots, and detailed the machinations of CHOKE (Cultural Humiliation Of Knitters Everywhere). She was funny, endearing, and had us all laughing until our grins hurt. Then she spoke of what knitters can do, of how much money we have all raised so far for Knitters Without Borders, of the friendships and bonds so many of us have formed, of how special it is in this day and age to make something by hand. It was a beautiful speech.

Then we all lined up to have books signed. This is where sitting in the front row became a problem: there was no way to get to the line aside from walking all the way around the aisles while everyone else quickly hopped up into place. Seemed fair, though. So we stood in line and knitted and visited. I got to see Rodger's new sweater. Also met the very bubbly blogless Terissa, who suggested we all go out for tea and drinks later. Excellent idea! I met Christy, who talked of the Single Sock Liberation Movement and showed me a bevvy of proudly single socks. Carry on the good fight, Christy!

And then, it was my turn. Stephanie looked at me, smiled, and said, "you!" And then right after that, "where are the samosas?" We both laughed and I offered up the scones. She asked what I was working on*, I told her it was a shawl, to which she quickly remarked, "it's got a long way to go then, eh?" Then I had her feel it, and she may have said something like, "evil, evil woman." Heh, heh - I take great pride in my evilness! Meghan took a picture of both of us (note that she is still fondling the shawl) and I'm pretty sure I was in the middle of saying something. Better picture over here (squee! Yep, I'm on the blog). She gave me a big hug after that, and you know what? Stephanie gives a really good hug. Not a big surprise - she's a pretty neat person all 'round.

Afterwards Meghan and I walked over to the tea/lounge place (what was the name of it?), meeting up with Rodger and Terrisa later on. I actually got carded. At 38 years old - what a compliment! We all sat and gabbed and Meghan worked furiously on a wee baby sweater and had a blast. Many thanks to Meghan for the ride and for being my knit event buddy, and thanks to Stephanie for once again making us all laugh and think and feel proud of our knitterly ways.

* (I knitted! For the first time in over a month! Fittingly, it was on my sister's almost cobweb crepe shawl, since I need to finish before August. It felt strange, and my hands trembled as I did it, but I managed. I'm just going to bite the bullet and keep working on it even if knitting feels strange and uncomfortable for a while.)