Friday, June 29, 2012

Ten on Tuesday*

*For some reason this didn't post on Tuesday, even though I did finish and post it. Oh well, here it is. 

10 Ways to Feel Like a Kid Again

  1. Hang around some kids. Really. Like Maurice Chevalier says in Gigi "Youth! Stay close to the young...and a little rubs off." That is excellent advice.
  2. Play-doh. There's just something in the smell that takes you back. And if you can squish it through the 'Fun Factory' thingy.
  3. Eat Popsicles in the summer- It's very difficult to be a serious adult when eating a Popsicle.
  4. Swing. Again something so simple that will take you back. 
  5. Blow bubbles in your drink. Bonus points if it is milk. Double bonus if it is chocolate milk.
  6. Just lay in the grass and look at the sky...without worrying what your clothes or hair will look like when you get up. 
  7. Run down a hill....or better yet roll down one. 
  8. Two words: Cotton. Candy.
  9. Another two words: Carnival. Rides.
  10. Don't take yourself so damn seriously. Really, that's the trick to it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Heat wave

Hello, I am reporting from what feels like the bowels of hell. Yesterday reached a high of 97F with a heat index of 105F. And today is predicted to hit the triple digits. That's too hot for anyone, but for someone with MS it can be debilitating. Any rise in body temperature, even 1 degree, can cause psuedo-flare ups and exacerbate existing symptoms. This has put quite the hitch in my plans for the week. I'm holding my own so far, though I notice that this afternoon I'm more woozy and unsteady than usual.

This week has been a whirlwind of doctor's appointments. Monday I got a lot done before my appointment. I was able to mow the front lawn, do some landscaping, and get some joint compound on the walls all before 10:30.

The landscaping involved digging up the sod along the back fence line and mulching. I don't have edgers for the area yet but I plan on laying in stone edgers and planting along the fence line. The fence isn't ours and I find it very ugly. I want to plant something that will grow fairly tall and block most of it. We get a fair amount of shade back there, which limits my options.


My main project for the week (and weeks ahead) is the upstairs. My husband and I did a walk-through and made some decisions so that we can move the project forward. There is an area for a bathroom upstairs with the plumbing for a toilet roughed in. We had been toying with the idea of putting a shower up there as well, but it ends up not being a feasible option. There really isn't the room for a decent size shower stall and more importantly, no way to get the plumbing in.
Right now this is how it all looks:

The hallway: I have a good sanding left and then to touch up a few spots.

This is the closet area in the room. I'm going to finish the room in two sections starting with this area. The bathroom area is on the other side of the plastic. The closet on the right will have a hanging bar and the wall on the left will have built-in cabinets.

This is the other end of the room. For now it will be the holding cell. Once the above area is done we can move a junction box, finish putting up the drywall, and get it all paint ready.


I've also been playing around with my stash. I've uploaded more of it into Ravelry, and deciding what to keep and what to destash. I'm also picking projects for the keepers. I've got quite the case of startitis. I've also frogged a few projects, but more on that in tomorrow's report. After yet another doctor's appointment.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ten on Tuesday

No official 10 for today so I'll do my own. I'm on my summer unemployment and I have a mile long to-do list, but several of those are projects to make my daughter. I've included both knitting and sewing projects.

10 Things I'd like to make for Little Miss
  1. Pinwheel Sweater by Shelley Mackie -This is the perfect little sweater for those in between days when it's chilly in the morning and evening. What I like about the pattern is that it can be warn for a long time by rolling down the sleeves and flipping the body over.
  2. Ridinghood Sweater Pattern by Tina Good- what is there not to love about this one?
  3. Anouk by Kate Gilbert -I have several design plans for this pattern.
  4. Fionas Top by Sanne Bjerregaard -This is just beautiful. I'd think she'd look lovely in it.
  5. Smock Coat by Debbie Bliss - We all know how I feel about Debbie Bliss patterns. I love the look of this. It reminds me of coats I had when I was a wee one. Even my husband looked at the pattern and was impressed, and rarely does the knitting impress him. 
  6. Simplicity 4203- I think the top in this pattern is a good solution to the issue of Little Miss preferring dresses and her tendency to climb and crawl over and through everything.
  7. Simplicity 2171- This is just too cute and the potential combinations of fabrics and colors are endless. 
  8. Simplicity 2391- I've inherited a bunch of lovely vintage pillowcases from my great-aunts and grandmother. I really can't think of anything better to do with them.
  9. Simplicity 5391- This pattern is now out of print, but luckily I bought it years ago when it was available. I love the Asian flair to it and again see great potential for creativity in the design. 
  10. Folkwear 213- I grew up reading (and watching) The Little House on the Prairie series. Laura Ingalls Wilder has long been one of my idols. I hope to pass that love onto my little girl. 

 Today's physical therapy knocked me on my arse, so very little is getting accomplished outside of some finishing, knit puttering, Ravelry browsing, and watching of Babylon 5.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ten on Tuesday (plus update)

10 Favorite Ways to Eat Strawberries.

  1. Plain- what is better than a perfectly fresh strawberry. Even better if eaten while picking. 
  2.  Dipped in chocolate- the caveat being it must be dark chocolate.
  3. Sugared- chopped up, sprinkle with sugar and let sit to make their own juice. Easy-peasy and wonderful for the next few. 
  4. With cream- whipped or otherwise. Strawberries and cream are an absolute delight. 
  5.  Shortcake- either pound cake or homemade shortcake. Those spongy little cake bowls they have at the grocery store are sacrilege.
  6. Blended with lemonade- this was my drink of choice while pregnant in the summer and I crave it still. Throw a bunch of frozen strawberries in a blender with some lemonade and maybe some additional ice, hit the button, and you are good to go. Warning: very addictive.
  7. In pie- with rhubarb. 
  8. Jam- I will be making jam this summer and strawberry is on the top of the to-do list. I use water bath methods for my jam, and I'm currently looking for a sweetened with fruit juice recipe. But that's a story for another post. (hrm...I almost said podcast. Now what does that tell you?)
  9. As Popsicles- puree and freeze. I never use juice for homemade Popsicles. It's too thin and watery. Pureed fruit works so much better. 
  10. in boozy punch- I once spent an entire day of my college's Springfest buzzed off of the fruit that had been soaking in people's alcoholic punch. The strawberries were by far the best. I have a fabulous rum punch recipe and strawberries are a wonderful touch to it. 

And the update.
I had every intention of posting this weekend but my laptop never came out of my work bag. Friday was my second infusion of my MS treatment. This is a once a month treatment that requires me to spend several hours at the MS center. For the first six treatments I also get an IV dose of Benadryl, incase I have an allergic reaction to the medicine. My first treatment, the Benadryl knocked me on my ass. I slept through the treatement, and then the rest of the day and a full night as well. This time I did better. I was able to knit on my Gaia during the infusion, but I did take a long nap later in the afternoon. My treatments are going to lead to two new projects. It's rather cold in the infusion room (I'm always cold anyway) and getting two IV bags full of a chilled liquid doesn't help. I bring the quilt my Mom made me for my 20th birthday, but come winter I'll need more. The issue lies in the fact that I need to leave my one arm uncovered for the IV. So, I see a pair of fingerless gauntlets in my future. The other project is some sort of wrap or long jacket that I can wear but leave my arms free. I've not searched Ravelry yet so expect a future post on the search.
I did, however, finish knitting Bigger on the Inside. My goal is to block it tonight, then I'll post the pictures and write my thoughts on the pattern. The weather this weekend was lovely and on Sunday I spent a good portion of the day outside. Little Miss was in taking her nap and Little Dude wanted to play in his pool. So, once I set up the pool, I settled into a patio chair and knit away. I knit some more while watching Game of Thrones after the kids were in bed. (FYI- I'm still catching up on the first season).

In other news this is my last contract week at work before my summer hiatus. I'll have seven weeks off (unpaid), two of which the kids will be sans daycare. Therefore that leaves me five weeks with a to-do list that is a mile long. And I plan on blogging like crazy in that time. I've a lot of thoughts in my head to share. Meanwhile at work, I'm doing a semi-major reset of my shop. Nothing is sacred this time around and I should have some pictures by the end of the week. Right now it looks like a complete disaster....which means I should get of the computer and back to it.

Till the next time.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

New Obsessions

I've acquired a few new obsessions over the last year. One of these is cake pops.

For the uninitiated, cake pops are when you bake a cake, crumble it, mix with frosting, put it on a stick and coat it with candy coating.  These are the brainchild of Bakerella. Seriously, check out her site, if only for the beautiful pictures. These became so popular that she came out with a book.

I stumbled across this at the library and fell in love. And because I am just that insane, I decided to make some. Actually, I decided that I would be making some for Little Miss's first birthday party. But who wants to do something like that for an event that big without a trial run? Well, normally that would be me, but not this time.

Little Dude was having a Valentines party at daycare (or as we call it 'school'). I figured a bunch of three year olds would be a good test audience. And so the experiment began. I let Little Dude pick out the cake and the candy colors. We ended up with Strawberry cake and candy melts in pale blue, pink and yellow.

Here are the balls rolled and being shaped into the hearts. And there is the book. 

Here are the hearts. I probably picked the most difficult shape to start with. I had a few that jumped off of their sticks; I think my cookie cutter was a little too large and the hears became too thin. The hearts really don't lend themselves to dipping and covering very easily. I won't say how late into the night this went. 

Sadly I don't like strawberry cake, or the vanilla flavored candy coating, so I didn't like them. I actually made my neighbor try one and tell me if it was any good. Well, I shouldn't have worried because they were a huge hit at daycare. All of the teachers were raving about them the next day and asking how I did them.

So the experiment was a success and it was a go for the party. Little Miss's party didn't exactly have a theme. Well, it kind of did but not one that translated to cake pops. Little Dude decided that his sister needed to have a Tinkerbell party and so I bought plates and napkins, but that was about it. I couldn't figure out how to do Tinkerbell cake pops, so I went with what I thought was the cutest thing in the book: the owls. Her invitations had owls on them so it worked.

This time I worked the project over several days; baking one day, rolling and shaping the next and then dipping them the night before the party. I was still doing it in the wee hours because I really can't start until the minions go to bed. And both of them wake several times in an evening.

The owls were more intense. I had to improvise for the beaks since I couldn't find the candy chips suggested and I did away with the wings completely. Here is what I ended up with. I don't seem to have gotten any close up pictures. My favorite one is is the one we dubbed 'Sleep Owl', seen towards the middle back. I had gotten some of the coating on the candy for the eye and decided to touch up the eyes and make him a sleepy owl. They were yellow cake with vanilla frosting and dark chocolate candy coating.

I'll be making more in the future. Little Dude is requesting a pirate party for his birthday and I think the pirate pops and some skulls are in order. I'm also trying to figure out how to make little TARDIS and Dalek ones without making myself insane. The possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Ten on Tuesday and an update

10 Favorite Work Out Songs: This topic is rather timely. Part of my MS treatment includes working with a physical therapist and an occupational therapist. I'm working on hand strength and coordination at the moment and next week we will start on my walking and an exercise routine. So here we go...
  1. Dragula  by Rob Zombie
  2. O Fortuna by Apotheosis
  3. Only by Nine Inch Nails
  4. Du Hast by Rammstein
  5. Breathe by The Prodigy
  6. Machinehead by Bush
  7. Blue Monday by Orgy
  8. I'm Shipping Up to Boston by Dropkick Murphys
  9. Bodies by Drowning Pool
  10. Whatever by Godsmack

I think you can get a sense of what I like from that list. Someday I'll have to do a list about my painting music. I like to pair my music with the project. I try to do the same with my books. When I was painting Time After Time, I listened to the stories of H.G.Wells.  When I was doing these really beautiful blood red walls, Dexter is Delicious was the book of choice. For Pippin and all of it's medieval glory, it was the original Shannara trilogy.

I've been trying to write my update post for days. It has been that kind of week.
Last Tuesday I had to pick up Little Miss early from daycare because she wasn't feeling well, which we attributed to teething. Wednesday she stayed home with her Daddy. When I picked Little Dude up that afternoon there was a notice announcing that several of the other kids had hand, foot, and mouth disease. Sure enough that's what she had, in addition to the teething. Then in the wee hours of Friday morning Little Dude came down with a fever too. Normally that isn't such a big deal, but Friday was our 10th wedding anniversary. 10 years was celebrated by caring for two sick kids. (I'm trying not to read anything into it.)

I should have known it was going to be a weird week when I went on our annual pilgrimage to Mass Sheep and Wool and Webs and bought nothing! Well, I did buy some lunch, but nothing fiber related. Partly because I'm facing a summer without a paycheck (again!). And partly because nothing really spoke to me. I had been hoping to get another Stitched by Jessalu bag but I just couldn't decide on what one to get. By the way, if you don't have one (or more) of her bags...get one. They are wonderful and beautifully made. Plus she has tons of sci-fi/geek ones. You can't go wrong. But nothing was really grabbing me. The same with Spunky Eclectic's fiber. And this is the first time I've ever left and not bought something for Ball and Skein. Though, she's got just what I've been hunting for to make my Mina scarf. But it's something I know I can order later. Webs didn't have any of the books I was thinking of, though I was able to peruse Vampire Knits. There wasn't enough in there that I would make to warrant buying it.

Despite my lack of stash acquisition, I've made significant of progress in my knitting of late. Actually, knitting is sanctioned by my occupational therapist to help with hand coordination. So, it's not just a hobby (addiction), it's good for my health (and that of those around me if they don't want to die).

It took me a week but I finally picked up the stitches on Bigger on the Inside. I finished the lace section and blocked it to make the picking up the stitches easier.
As I feared, it is one of those patterns where the number of stitches to pick up and the place they are being picked up from differ. In this case it was 311 over 400 rows. I won't go into what I went through to figure out how to do it evenly. I'll just say, this is a gift and my OCD was running rampant...and thankfully my husband is much better at math than myself. Honestly, that is the hardest part of this pattern. I'm nearly halfway through the TARDIS chart and it looks good. I'll be making a few changes when I make this one for myself.

Gaia is making progress too. She's a great project for when I don't want to think or I'm needing to set it down a lot (read keeping the kids from killing each other).
And the other fiber related news I've started spinning again. We can thank Little Dude for this one. My wheel was around and he had been playing with the treadle for a few days. Finally I said I'd show him how it is used, grabbed some fiber, and then proceeded to spin for about the next 5 hours, with breaks for dinner and getting said minions to bed. I finished a bobbin that night. I just did the second one a few nights ago and I hope to ply them sometime in the next few days. This fiber is some BFL dyed by my lovely friend The Painted Sheep. The colorway is called Pine Meadow. I was an idiot when I split the fiber and didn't bother weighing it so one of the bobbin has more than the other so it won't ply exactly the way I was hoping but I think it will be nice nonetheless. I'm happy to say that now that I am using better fiber, my spinning is much more even. The inherited wool that I had been using was partially felted and not that great. I'm glad I abandoned it. I'm not sure what this yarn is going to become yet.

Next on the project list is the caplet from Teva Durham's Loop-d-loop. I'm able to do this now because my lovely friend Peggy had the gigantic needles needed for this project and so graciously lent them to me. I've had the yarn for this in stash for years.

And a little bit of trivia. The background on the above photos is the floor I'm currently painting at work.