Thursday, August 28, 2008

"What have you been eating?"

The weekend stretches out before me with nothing but possibilities. For the first time all summer I have a weekend that is completely mine and I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to it. My problem right now is narrowing down my list of possibilities into something a little more realistic.

I desperately need to paint my bedroom and a long weekend is a perfect time for this but I'm leaning towards putting this on the back burner as it it's a little more work than I'd like to do. I'm thinking more along the lines of relaxing and fun, not tired and messy. Not to mention I need to pick out paint colors which stresses me out just to think about.

Our pool will be closed for the season after Monday so I'm sure we'll go up there for the kids to fit in one (or two or three) last swims. Then we'll be helping with all the details that go along with closing for the season such as putting things in storage, taking things down, cleaning etc.

We've talked of going to the farmer's market and maybe even hitting the drive-in too. I'm sure there will be a barbecue thrown in somewhere as well.

Knitting will definitely be on the agenda as the Hibiscus for Hope socks are coming along rather nicely. The end is in sight for the first sock and then I'll be back to square one on the second.

I think I'll start on a little quilt too. My youngest daughter has a beloved quilt that she can't part with. I made it (as well as a matching dust ruffle, diaper stacker and bumper pads) for her before she was born. She slept under it every night and quickly become positively attached to it. It even has a name, Night-Night. Sadly, Night-Night resembles little of what it originally looked like. After six years of love it is practically in shreds. The binding has torn off, one of the borders has come off and it is rapidly deteriorating. We've had many discussions of needing to put Night-Night in a special box to keep since it's reached such a poor state. I was really worried about taking it with us on our recent vacation for fear that it would either become lost or accidentally thrown in with the laundry at the hotel. Thankfully neither happened.

Compromise has been reached and we will not put Night-Night away until I have made a replacement. My sweet girl and I went to several quilt stores until we settled on the perfect new fabrics.

She chose the pink fabric and then we added the stripes to bring in more color. From there we accessorized with fabrics until we had the perfect combination.

I now need to pre-wash and start cutting to make sure I don't need to go purchase more. Then I'll be on to the piecing and quilting. I used to do much more sewing and quilting when the kids were younger so it will be fun to dust off the old sewing machine.

Her Night-Night was a rather simple quilt, just blocks with a couple of borders and I'm sure she'll want something as similar to that as possible which should make for some quick and easy work. We'll see how much I can get done this weekend.

And as an update the two-at-a-time socks are fini! Done, over, finished, the end. Tried them on and they feel wonderful. Wish I would have done something a little more fun with them but they were a good learning project and will look great for the fall with jeans.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back in February or March when I was suffering through the illness that would not end my glasses were accidentally stepped on by my husband. I had taken them off to lay/sleep on the couch and had put them under the couch several inches back. You may wonder why on earth I would put my glasses there. I chose the under the couch location after years of experience with my loving children. I cannot tell you how many times I've taken my glasses off while not feeling well or napping only to reach for them when I'm ready to get up and they're gone. Seeing (ha ha!) as I need the glasses to see, it makes it especially difficult to look for them. The children (each and every one of them but especially the darling boy) seem to be fascinated with my glasses and love to try them on, wear them around the house and then take them off when they're bored. And by taking them off I mean removing them from their face and putting them anywhere--their room, the floor, the kitchen, in a toy, etc.

During one bout of morning sickness with one of my pregnancies I realized I could put the glasses under the couch directly below my head. They didn't think to look there and I would hear them if they tried to get them and could stop them. Unfortunately my husband wasn't aware of this plan and has bigger feet than I had taken into account. He walked over to check on me and squished the old glasses. One lens popped out and one eye piece fell off. He managed to fix the lens but they eye piece was a goner. I was sick but I didn't care, they still kind of worked and I could see.

Months went by and I didn't get new glasses because they seemed like a low priority compared to other financial demands. The husband and kids teased me about my goofy glasses but I only wore them at home after/before contacts were taken out/put in so it wasn't a big deal. OK, I did wear them a few times to Sam's really early in the morning but I walked fast and didn't talk to anyone. I'm sure no one noticed. Yeah right.

Anyway, the other night I knocked them off of my nightstand while reaching for my glass of water. I carefully felt around under the night stand trying to find them (all the while convinced I would instead grab an enormous spider since it was the middle of the night and the lights weren't on). Thankfully I didn't grab any creepy-crawlies but did find a lonely eye-piece instead. The glasses were officially D.O.A. and necessitated a trip to the eye doctor yesterday to order new ones.

Thankfully the final tab was about half of what I expected so although it was still a chunk of change it could have been much worse.

Despite the glasses fiasco I have managed to continue working on the Hibiscus for Hope socks. The heel has been turned and I'm working my way up the ankle. I somehow managed to mess up a row which required ripping/re-knitting about three times but I finally located the error and am again making forward progress.

The actual color is a bit more subdued than the photograph above but I was too lazy to try to fix it in Photoshop.

You can see that my son didn't let my knitting picture taking to interfere with his important race car driving.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

School has started at our house and returned us to our much needed normal routine. During the summer break we go through the busiest, craziest time of the year at our house. Between all of the kids summer activities (swim team, synchronized swimming, gymnastics, t-ball, annoying each other and destroying the house) and the increased business load we go from being a well-oiled machine to a sputtering mess. We manage to keep up the basics of clean clothes and dishes but regular meal planning always seems to slip through the cracks. Now that summer is over I'm thrilled to be getting back into the old routine.

We actually did start to work on our meal planning before school started as we noticed just how much we were relying on fast food (sadly way too much). Not only is it obviously not good for you it adds up really quickly. In our never-ending quest to save money we decided to get back to eating at home.

Planning ahead is the key to the entire operation. I plan a "Menu" for 8-10 dinner meals. I have tried and true recipes that I incorporate as well as a few new ones for each Menu. I utilize my crock-pot on days when I'm working so I won't come home exhausted and bail on dinner for convenient drive-thru junk.

The other appliance I love that saves time is my steamer. I buy lots of frozen veggies and can put those in the steamer and 20 minutes later have perfect, healthy side dishes. Surprisingly the kids love it too so we're all happy about it (I suspect this is because I've done it their whole little lives). It also does a great job steaming rice as well. I'm on my second steamer as I used my first one so much it eventually died. Although not identical this is very similar and the same brand as my steamer.

Lunches are either leftovers or regular standbys like sandwiches. Sadly the kiddos are doing nothing but increasing their dinner consumption rate which radically depletes any leftover reserves (I'm sure this part of the algebraic equation which ultimately equals the fact that they are outgrowing all of their clothes. ::sigh::). When we're out of leftovers we fall back on good old standbys like sandwiches, salads and pantry raids. We've invented some interesting meals out of the pantry in the past. And there's always a feeling of triumph when we buck up and eat lunch at home instead of forking over $5-$20 on lunch at McDriveThru. During the school year the kids take a packed lunch to school most days.

Breakfasts need to be quick because I'm NOT a morning person. Frozen waffles, cereal, fruit, oatmeal, banana bread, muffins, scrambled eggs are all morning options. I will bake the banana bread and muffins the night before so they'll be ready to go the next morning (again, NOT a morning person. Did I mention I pack their lunches before bed too?).

I rarely buy convenience foods and make every attempt to cook as much as possible from scratch. Not only does it tastes better it is also way cheaper. That being said I confess there are certain items that I do fall back on regularly like pie crust, pre-trimmed chicken breasts and frozen waffles. Some of these things are either cheaper to buy pre-made like the waffles. Others don't cost much more than making them from scratch and save me time so that's a no-brainer. And finally some of them I buy purely to make my life easier and because I'm prone to bouts of self-indulgence.

I'm happy to say that this weekend we ate every single meal at home. Don't get me wrong, I love going out to restaurants as much as the next person but it's a small victory to stay ahead of the game financially by not having to spend a dime all weekend. Friday night I made one of my husbands favorite dinners, Garlic Beef Enchiladas (go ahead, click it it's a link. Make it with some Spanish rice on the side and make your house smell yummy with garlicky goodness). Yesterday morning we had a brunch of scrambled eggs, toast & bacon. Last night we had barbecued burgers, dogs, potato salad. We've munched on leftovers for breakfast and lunch today and will be grilling chicken for dinner tonight.

All of the planning and prep is worth it though. We routinely feed a family of five for $75-$100 a week (and that usually even includes cleaning supplies and toiletries as I do the shopping for everything all at once). It also helps that I have several meals that are very inexpensive to prepare that I rotate through the menu in addition to the more expensive meals.

So there you have it. I challenge everyone to eat at home more. It makes your home smell yummy, saves you money, let's you flex some creative muscle in the kitchen, let's you bond with the kiddos while nourishing their little bodies and also thumb your nose at Big McDriveThru. What's not to like?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ugh, I'm dragging today. Started feeling a tad icky yesterday and woke up this morning with a lovely sore throat and head cold. Am so tired but have a lot of work I need to finish up. Thankfully it's the home stretch on two orders so I'm hoping I can finish them up today and get them out of my life. Love putting a completely finished file into the file cabinet. It's like permanently crossing it off of a to do list.

Last night I ventured out to Stitch & Bitch at the knit store. I've wanted to go all summer long but have had something come up every single Thursday. Finally had a free night last night so I jumped on it. I was really surprised there were so many people there. I incorrectly assumed that the KIP group was a pretty fair representation of how many knitters would be there. Way off on my part. But it was a really nice night. It was nice to actually meet people in person (Hi Becca!) that I've followed on the net. Important lesson learned, arrive early to get a good seat, they nearly ran out of chairs.

It was nice to take everything all in and listen to all the different discussions. I like to hang back and gauge the personalities and crowds and figure out where I fit in (also, am a bit shy and worried I'll blurt our something completely idiotic). It was interesting to see/hear the wide variety of knitting skill, personalities and opinions. Lots of fun, hope I'll be able to make it back for more.

Last night after getting home I did a little browsing on the 'net and came across a blog that really opened my eyes. I couldn't believe how solitary and alone the writer is. She certainly isn't trying to communicate that in her brief posts but from the outside looking in it was painfully obvious to me. It really made me appreciate my little family. I may get completely overwhelmed by all the people in my life that need things from me (family, friends, customers, etc.) but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am truly rich in love and completely grateful for my crazy little life.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Hee hee! Came across this and it made me laugh. I'll be singing it in my head every time I make pancakes...

I felt bad for the poor two-at-a-time socks which have been a bit neglected over my excitement for the Hibiscus for Hope socks. I haven't posted any photos of their current state so I thought I should. I need to get out my tape measure and check because I'm awfully close to the decreases for the toes. The end is in sight! It drives me crazy to have more than one project at a time going on so I might have to finish these up real quick and then get back to the Hibiscus. We'll see...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

There is a commercial that we quote more than any other movie line in our house (and let me tell you, we quote movies A LOT). My husband and I ask this when we see the other one surfing the web/goofing off online:

"A zillion dollars worth of technology and what are you doing?"

To which the other always replies:


Love Dennis Leary, here's the original commercial here.

In my defense I can't do any other major computer work as I'm burning several DVDs so I thought I'd do a quick update (with pictures!) of my Hibiscus for Hope socks.

Getting ready to start working on the heel, the pattern is going great!
Am obsessed with this, want to knit it soooo bad....

::sigh:: beautiful.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I took some pictures of the yarn I chose for my Hibiscus for Hope socks before I left for vacation but didn't have time to upload the images to the blog. Here they are...

This is Panda Silk yarn which is great to work with, very soft! I picked it up at Twist. Not sure of the exact colorway but it is obviously in lovely shades of pinks. I'm planning on giving these socks to a breast cancer survivor and felt that pink was perhaps the obvious choice but I'm going with it anyway.

Here is the beginning of the first sock. I took these photos on Friday, August 8th and am happy to say that I made quite a bit of progress over vacation. I'll have to take more photos to update the current stage of the sock.

Here are some photos of my first "design." I took copious notes but need to make another one up to make sure that everything is correct. I'm still toying with names for the hat. I made it out of a cheap acrylic to try out but will buy some pretty yarn to make a proper hat after I make sure the pattern has all the kinks out of it.

As you can see it has a ruffled brim which leads into a vine lace pattern and then finishes in stockinette decreases.

And finally some pictures of my little boy. He went to the barber with his dad and walked in rockin' a new 'do while I was finishing up my little knitting photo shoot. The barber sprayed in some color streaks which the little man thought was awesome. Of course I had to get a few pics since I already had the camera in hand.

He "took mom's picture" with his toy while I was taking his.

I'm sure he'd love it if I'd fix his hair this way every day...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Friday, August 08, 2008

I have decided that making knitting decisions while drinking a rum and coke may not always be the best decision. I am such a weenie that even a small rum and coke (seriously, just one and it was small) relaxes my brain to such a state that the thoughts just don't run all the way down their respective paths.

[edited to clarify the adult beverage was consumed in the evening while choosing the pattern not before/while driving around town the next day to purchase knitting needles and yarn. Evidently I really am an honorary blond as the following failure to think played out over the next day as well...]

I decided to make the lovely Hibiscus socks and noticed that the pattern is written so that they are knit on two circular needles. Which I've never done. Never fear! March on! I saw the sock on Yarn Harlot's site and thought they would be great vacation knitting. Cute, not too bulky and a perfect little gift for a friend who is battling breast cancer. If I start them now I may even finish them to give to her in October. Perfect. I worry a bit that I've never knitted on two circulars but troop on. I sigh over the fact that I seem to constantly be buying new needles but buck up and buy them. I go home and diligently watch the magic cast on (and succeed! Love the magic!!) and the special increases (God bless Cat Bordhi and her YouTube videos). Everything goes well and I get all the way through the cast-on and increases to the regular stockinette. I wanted to be at that point while I still had computer access to hold my hand through everything.

Then I glance back at Yarn Harlot's site. And notice. Hers are on DPNs. I sigh and think, "Wish I were smart enough to convert the pattern to DPNs." Then this morning after I wake up in bed I realize just how easy this would have been to make on DPNs. It's not advanced trigonometry, just a little division of the number of stitches on Needle 1 & 2 to spread out of three or four DPNs. D'oh.

Anyway! The first sock is on it's way and I'm enjoying working with the two circulars, which are just as easy to deal with as the DPNs and a little more preferable to the magic loop for me I think.

Back to vacation preparations....

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I saw the new issue of Interweave Knits at Twist this afternoon and was bummed I hadn't received mine yet. Was thrilled it was waiting in the mail when I got home after errands. Yay!

I picked up some yarn for the Hibiscus socks as well as the necessary needles. (As an aside, how is it that out of my enormous collection of knitting needles I never have the right size/length? I mean really, I have a complete set of interchangeable needles as well as a huge assortment of straights and DPNs and still end up always buying needles...)

Pictures to come eventually, now I'm off to my fresh Interweave Knits...

Just saw a Macy's commercial with at least two different things I would have gone straight to the store to buy except for that pesky little detail--we don't have a Macy's here anymore.

I still remember going to the Macy's store downtown with my mother. I was just a little, little girl but I remember how exciting it was to go down the short little escalators and park in the winding parking garage.

If only it was still there I'd have a new stock pot and luggage today....

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Whew! What a weekend. Multiple weddings and a trip out of state for a training seminar. Feels like there really wasn't a weekend at all. I have another couple of weddings this weekend and then we fly out of town bright and early Sunday morning for a much, much needed family vacation. Truth be told I think I've already slowly begun to check out of things and mentally go on vacation. Instead of doing more drudgery work at the studio today I instead found new fonts, designed some business cards and played around with our logo. I'm really not behind at work but I had hoped to get even farther ahead of things before we left.

I'm going to run by Twist tomorrow to look for some yarn for vacation knitting. I'm hoping I receive my Hibiscus pattern in time to take with me on the trip. If it doesn't arrive in time I'm sure I can find something else. I was a little apprehensive when I read that it was a toe up sock until I realized that I've done a toe up item with the Mary Jane slippers I made earlier this year.

I tried looking around a little bit online to see if I could find any fun yarn stores to hit on our trip but didn't find much of anything. I'm now wishing I had bookmarked the website that had all of the yarn shops nationwide on it. Oh well, think I'll pop over to Ravelry and see what I can find there.

Also wondering about the entire Twitter thing. I love reading the little blurbs from people but I don't know if it's for me. Might have to try it out though as it seems whenever I have a thought for a blog entry I'm not near my computer. Might be the best way to actually get a little fresh content on this blog. What's holding me back now is trying to figure out what the heck my Twitter name should be. Most other clever blog writers have short cute blog names, not so with me. Obviously should have rethought that one...

Should be fun running a bajillion errands to prepare for the trip tomorrow.

Am now trying to convince husband to run someplace for a late night snack. Must have chocolate.

Squee!! My Hibiscus pattern just popped up on my e-mail!! Off for sock yarn tomorrow!!!!!