Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thanks to yesterday's comments

I'm now faced with a real hankering for blueberries. I even woke in the middle of the night and thought about where I could put a couple of blueberry bushes. It didn't help that it was 46 and sunny yesterday, so I was outside feeling like spring is around the corner. Last night the temperature dropped 30 degrees and it is winter again. Blargh.

Speaking of yesterday, I spent the afternoon doing cleanup work. It was lovely. It's funny how something that is so objectionable in July is an absolute joy in December. I picked up all the limbs that had fallen during the ice storm of a couple of weeks ago, raked the pile of leftover leaves to where the garden will be in the spring (I plan to choke out the grass with them, newspaper, and a healthy layer of compost. Don't laugh! I read right here on the internet that it totally works!), swept the garage, and I climbed out on the roof and cleaned the gutters. The gutter cleaning was cut short, though, because the metal roof on the garage was a little slippery. Not to mention that I wasn't wearing waterproof gloves and my fingers were getting cold.

Anyway, the dose of vitamin D I got out there was much needed. I hope it's enough to get me through the next few weeks, until the next sunny and "warm" day.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And one of that, and three of those, and a couple of these..

You know how you go to a church potluck, and everything looks so good that you have to have a bite of each, and by the time you head back to your table the plate is heaped with a 5" mountain of food, with no reasonable ability to consume all of it?

That's how I felt yesterday while looking through the first 2009 seed catalog that came in yesterday's mail. I was picking out carrots and peas and new tomatoes and beans and even trying to figure out how to find enough sunny spots in the yard for a few blueberry bushes. I won't even get started on my desire to grow those sunflowers that grow to 12 feet tall. And then I looked at the groundcover section and dreamed of getting rid of those overgrown yews along the side of the house. I was practically drooling by the end.

But like the potluck, there's no way I could do all of that here. I have too much shade, not enough time, and a paltry budget. I should note that I have plenty of motivation right now, but know that although we've had plenty of cold and snow already there's lots of time to go before I get to start playing with seeds. My motivation levels experience precipitous drop each year as soon as the humidity and temperatures hit 85 degrees. By mid-July, I usually regret all the work I made for myself and want to hide in the air conditioning until fall.

Today, though, I dream of lush gardens and warm soil.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Woot!

I made bread yesterday that does not suck. That would not normally warrant a "woot!" like this post's title, but you might have read in the last weeks of my slump. I've had breads fail at an astonishing rate (nearing 100%) in the last 3 months, so any success is momentous, indeed.

Last week, King Arthur Flour company had free shipping on orders placed that day. I jumped at the chance to buy some proper sourdough starter and some really cute snowflake-shaped cookies sprinkles. After 3 days of feeding and growing my starter, I set out to make a real loaf of real sourdough (I've been through the sourdough deal before, and it didn't go well). Of course, being me, I decided to do it the hard way; the rustic, super-sour, no-added-yeast recipe.

This loaf took time. You feed the starter, wait 4 hours, then put it in the refrigerator for 12 hours. Take it out, add make the bread dough, then let it do its thing for 5-6 hours, then shape the loaves and let them rise for another 2-3 hours before baking. I got nervous after the overnight rest because of the lack of bubbles, so when I added the rest of the flour, I kneaded in about 3/4 teaspoon of instant yeast. I don't know how much that did, but it made me feel better.

Yadda yadda yadda, At 6pm last night, I had fresh-baked sourdough. It's not nearly as sour as the recipe acted like it would be, but I have to take into account that the last sourdough I tasted was brought back from San Francisco. Nothing tastes quite like San Fran sourdough. Anyway, it's good, and I cannot wait to make toast out of it this morning.


In other slump news, I've made two scarves and half a hat with the 9.0mm needles, and I think I'm now ready to stop working with tree branches and go back to normal knitting. I have the toe of a sock to finish, a shawl to work on, and some alpaca that still is calling to me. Time to get back to work.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Slump

I've attempted to bake bread about 4 times this month, and it has gone poorly each time, for different reasons. I used to be good at it. I've tried two different yeast recipes (one is my old standby) and banana bread (again, an old standby recipe). Mr. Deplume thinks I've hit a slump. He swears that all the greats do, and that I'll get over it soon. I hope so. In the meantime, I made chocolate chip banana muffins. I did not screw those up. They are so good, in fact, that I ate about 8 of them in 2 days. oops.

Speaking of slumps, I am still battling my winter knitting funk. To combat this, I picked up some US13 (that's 9 millimeters thick!) needles and have made a couple of garter stitch neck warmers out of *gasp* novelty yarn. It's almost embarrassing. I like to think of myself as an appreciator of the finer side of the craft, but dang if these aren't fast! I don't even know what I want to do with them yet. I just want to have completed projects under my belt.

If I get a minutes later on, I'll take pictures. But I probably won't post them on Ravelry, you know, due to the shame. ;)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

erm, a 90 percent chance?

The weather report shows a 90% chance of snow this morning. Somehow,looking at the current radar, i think that number might be a little low.

And we're almost out of cheese and bread. oops. I guess I'll be baking today.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sweater drying- you're doing it wrong

I washed the two sweaters I bought at the thrift store last month. I still haven't decided what I'm going to do with one of them, but it needed to be clean regardless. The reason it took a month is that I don't have a lot of good places to dry my woolens. If it were summer, I would take them outside, but it's cold here, so the dining room table has to do. As it turns out, my cat Penny likes sleeping on sweaters even when they are completely wet and cold from the basement. who knew.


Luckily, she's the tidy kitty, and left very little fur behind. If Yoda had plopped her ample butt on there I would have had to re-wash. She's a big ball of ungroomed fur and dandruff.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What movie is our Christmas most like?

For once, one of these silly quizzes has me accurately pegged.
Fa ra ra ra ra,
ra ra.
ra.
ra.




Your Christmas is Most Like: A Christmas Story



Loving, fun, and totally crazy.

Don't shoot your eye out!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Random Christmas Memories

When I was a kid, our artificial tree’s stand was mounted on a 2’ x 2’ piece of plywood to steady the base, then there were eye hooks mounted on the window casing about 4 feet from the ground (these remained there year round, obscured by the curtains). Once the tree was assembled, a length of twine was wrapped around the tree's trunk and secured to the hooks. Apparently, between the kids and the cats, they had had some problems, and my dad decided to put an end to tree toppling forever.

Next time I see him, I should ask about the incident that prompted him to break out the saw, drill and twine. Fun memories.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Mah new two-day hat

Winter has arrived here in Illinois. I have very short hair, so my poor ears are just out there in the elements, at the mercy of the cold prairie wind. I try to walk outside some every day, regardless of weather, so this hats are a big must-have for me. Back in July I knit the star crossed slouchy beret, thinking it a nice combination of style and warmth. I still really like the look of the hat, but after its initial winter wearing, I deem it a failure in the "keeping earlobe frostbite at bay" department: just too loose a gauge for my needs.

So I set out on Sunday to find a new pattern for a hat, one that would keep my ears warm and not make me look like a chemo patient. When I did a search on Ravelry, there were 90 pages of free patterns from which to choose. And yet none looked just right.

A while back, I knit the Architect's Hat from the Knitter's Book of Yarn, as a commission. I liked the hat a lot, but it had to go live with its rightful owner after I finished it. I decided to make it again, this time for me. But my copy of the pattern (the book is owned by the hat's commissioner) has turned up missing. So I did what any moderately masochistic person would do-- attempt to knit the hat from memory and pictures.

You know what? It turned out just fine. And in a day and a half, as well. Yay for me! I kinda wish the two yarns I used were closer in tone and I still need to block it, but I wore it out this afternoon when I walked to pick my daughter up from school, and it kept my head warm. Bonus. :)


Maybe this marks the end of my knitting funk. But this could also be a fluke. one just never knows.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I tried a new bread recipe

A while back, on a whim, I checked out Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day from the library. I love fresh bread, but I hate the 3 hours of needing to be home to make it (there's no hard labor with bread when you own a good stand mixer, but it is still time consuming). I skimmed it that night, and thought the book seemed like it was sent from heaven, but I didn't have the tools needed: Namely, a baking stone and a large container for storing the dough. Our old pizza stone cracked a couple of years ago, and we just never bought another. I returned the book, hoping that some day I'd get around to buying a dough bucket.

I finally did that last week. I bought some 4-quart Rubbermaid containers, and I went off in search of the recipe again. I found the basic "master recipe" from the book on the internet and tried it out. This bread in its most basic form makes enough for four round, rustic loaves. My first attempt yielded basically a lump of bread. It was ugly. Very ugly. And heavy. Made good toast, though.

Second attempt was to make pizza dough. This went very well. I will definitely use this method in the future.

Third attempt this morning went much better than the first. [pictures coming, but the batteries on the camera died before I could upload]It is still a little too heavy (I think the original mixture was a little drier than optimal), and I had a devil of a time getting it smooth. But it made for a very good sandwich at lunch (ham and sharp cheddar, with a little brown mustard, if you were curious). And it really does only take about five minutes of actual work, plus some time for proofing and of course baking. I'm going to get the book back out of the library and try again very soon. I also will be buying a stone in the very near future. Who knows, this book might end up a "must buy".

Friday, November 21, 2008

The front room is nearly done!

Before (this is the day we moved in):
From front room


After:
From front room


Obviously I need to recover those chairs to make them match, and I also need more furniture for the other end of the room (it's a really big room), not to mention art for the walls, but it's basically done. I cannot believe that we finally tackled it. Three years of hating that 300 square feet of house, and now I just plain like it.
Pictures of the rest of the progress are here.

Update on Blogstalking #3

It has been brought to my attention that I omitted my first true finished knitted object. I cannot believe that I forgot it, but my mother was there to remember for me: My first true knitting project was a beer cozy. Looking back, I shared it on an online knitting message board on November 13, 2006. I've officially been knitting more than two years now. How time flies when you're accumulating stash.


There's a 4th assignment from blogstalking, and I'll get that put up this weekend. But first I need to finish the front room. The walls are basically done, there are now curtains in the windows and everything! I'm getting so excited!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Help!

It's cold and damp here, which is perfect weather for shopping for a few more wool sweaters for the winter. I had no luck finding items I could actually wear this winter, and was going to go home empty handed (young son, however had fallen in love with some Ninja Turtle figures). Then this soft and squishy lambswool sweater jumped out and begged me to buy it, as it was lonely among all its pilly acrylic and faded cotton neighbors. What could I do? It looked so sad, and was so cute, with its little red stripe across the middle.


Unfortunately, it's way too big for me or Mr. Deplume, so it will need work. But I cannot decide what shoud be done. i leave it up to you, dear reader, to decide this fuzzy fate.

Blogstalking assignment #3: Why I learned to knit

I have known about this Blogstalking assignment for a whole week now, but hadn't posted my answer yet because I could not come up with one decent answer about what possessed me to knit. I knew that one day I didn't knit, then next I threw some horrible blue Red Heart Super Saver in my bascart at Wal-Mart and started obsessively watching knittinghelp.com videos. I've been wracking my brain about it for days. I was prepared to come here this morning and admit that I don't know what came over me that spurred the yarny obsession.

Finally, last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, kicking at the cat to keep her from sleeping on top of my knees: It was the needles! I had needles first, and one day I saw other people knitting and said, "hey, I can just buy some yarn and I'll be a knitter."

Why did I have needles first, you ask? (I know you probably aren't actually asking, but I'm pretending you did.) Because long ago I took part in a handmade sewing and craft swap at amitymama.com. Each person makes 5 of the same thing, then sends it to the swap organizer. She then sorts out the stuff, and sends 5 assorted items to each participant. Everyone makes 5 things, everyone gets 5 different things back. It's really a cool deal, except for the shipping costs, of course. My friend and I coordinated the Christmas 2004 swap, and when you're the organizer, you sometimes end up with some odd things. And one of the items that I, a non-knitter, got were some handmade wooden needles (about a size 10 or so) in a little fleece pouch.

I brought them home, put them on the shelf with all my sewing thread and needles and bobbins and elastic, and ignored them for a couple of years. Eventually, here in the "new" house, I got quite burned out on home-improvement projects, and decided that a good winter replacement hobby would be knitting. I made a large swatch with the above-mentioned Red Heart yarn (now happily living out its life as a dolly blanket), then moved on to a boucle yarn garter stitch scarf that my mom got started for me the previous winter. It's a very functional scarf, but it is a bit of a trapezoid. By then I was hooked. I started with dish cloths and fell in love with the craft.

So there. All that, and to be honest, I still really don't know what prompted me to pick up needles and learn. I think it might be coded in my DNA somewhere.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

I love caulk

More specifically, I like caulk's ability to make my rickety house look less bockety. What pushes me into the realm of gushy squishy disgusting love is this, my newest toy:
From front room

I bought him yesterday morning, and I'm in love. He's maybe the most instantly satisfying home improvement purchase I've ever made. I have weak hands and perpetually sore wrists, and installing the molding around the bottom of the baseboards just about killed me. So to be able to effortlessly lay a bead of painter's caulk around said trim in about twenty minutes is a true blessing.

Unfortunately, my little battery powered caulk gun just isn't strong enough for DAP "Better than the Nail" Moulding Adhesive. So today, when Mr. Deplume and I installed the crown molding, he had to work the old-fashioned caulk gun. Luckily, the man is strong as an ox, and had no trouble rising to the occasion. We ran out of the specialty adhesive 4/5 of the way through the project and found in a spectacular manner that liquid nails is just not a good idea. I'm sure it's fine for people hanging trim in a drywalled room equipped with an pneumatic nailer, but that is not the case here, and we had an 8-ft piece of trim fall on our heads, leaving an unsightly blob of brown liquid nails on the floor. oops.

So back to Menards I went, and came back with the right tools for the job. And some wine and crusty Italian bread (not from Menards, of course). By 4:30 PM, we had 72 linear feet of polystyrene crown molding hanging securely along the perimeter of our front room. If you are planning on diving into the dangerous world of compound miter cuts, I suggest this video. After each watching it, we only made one cut wrong, but it was actually fine for a different corner in the room. We don't have a saw like theirs, but the miter box and hand saw essentially does the same thing.


I promise pictures of the finished molding tomorrow afternoon, once I get done with the paint touch ups. (At least my plan is to finish the paint tomorrow-- you just never know how things will turn out, though, in the Deplume house.)

I also finished a 4th and started work on my 5th sock yesterday. The 4th sock I started was the first ever completed, and Number 5 is its mate. I'll post about that soon, too. This room project is stealing my knit time away.


Addendum: Mr. Deplume and I are not responsible for the ladder being that messy. It is a hand-me-down and looked like a paint store blew up on it before it came into our possession 10 years ago. It has served us well, regardless of outer appearances, bless its vertical heart.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Blogstalking is back!

I found out that the folks over at Knittyboard started up Blogstalking again. For those of you not in the know, it's just a fun deal in which we all post on the same topic once a week. I missed week one (serves me right for not checking the board often), but week two's topic is:

"I love ________ because ___________"

So here it goes. I love high density foam paint rollers because they kick ass. It's true. If you have trim to paint in your house, invest in these. They are fast, don't leave stupid brush marks in the paint, and the rounded ends will even paint in the curvy bits of the molding. You only have to use a brush for the inside corner-y bits.

Last time I was at the home improvement store, I bought the jumbo economy size pack of the roller heads, and when the front room project is done, they'll also be the tool of choice for repainting the kitchen cabinets.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I have grown to love Halloween. Not because I like the candy (although I do like candy), and not because I love witches and ghouls and cobwebs and black lights, either. I have grown to love dressing my kids up for Halloween. Nige is still a little young to get creative, and he always wants to be a super hero (Spider Man this year). But Nora, she has really gotten into the fun of thinking up something and making it happen. Last year she was Rapunzel, and kids still love to use the long blond wig when they play dress up.

This year, she originally wanted to be a frog. Her teacher loves frogs, so it seemed logical to her. But then we went to a friend's birthday party, and all the kids got plastic animal noses. Nora got an elephant's trunk, and right then the final costume decision was made. First off, I bought gray sweatpants and a sweatshirt and a skein of gray yarn. I went back to the old standby, the single crochet beanie. It is typically fairly cold on Halloween night here, so I like this stocking-cap-as-pattern thing. I used craft felt to make the ears (cut 4 elephant ear-shaped pieces, the sewed two layers together, and flipped inside out). I just whip-stitched the ears to the hat.


The feet proved to be more of a challenge. Originally I was going to use a round cardboard oatmeal container cut on half to make the hands, but the other felt I had was really dark gray, and we couldn't find a good way to attach to her hands and still allow her to do school things and hold the trick-or-treat bag at night. So back to the drawing board. At 6:30 last night I decided to knit them. (I'm a horrible procrastinator, but I do work well under pressure)


I started out by casting on 28 stitches and knit 12 rows of 2x2 ribbing on US5 needles. (I have a tendency to knit ribbing very loosely, so I go small on the needles)
Row 13: (kfb, k3) to end [35 stitches]
Row 14: knit across
Row 15: (k4, kfb) to end [42 stitches]
Row 16: knit across
Row 17: (kfb, k5) to end [49 stitches]
Row 18: bind off loosely, leaving last loop on needle
Grab a 5.5mm crochet hook and transfer the last loop to the hook, ch3, turn
double crochet into each of the bound-off stitches, ch3, turn
dc 4 more rows.
weave in ends.

If I were to do this again, I might skip the last inc row and stick with 42 stitches, as they are a little unwieldy, then do a few more rows of double crochet. And I think I'd switch to single crochet after the ribbing instead of the garter stitch, because it's so much faster. I finished these about 20 minutes before Nora had to head off to school this morning, I'll probably chain stitch some pink toenails onto them before T-0-Ting tonight.

If anyone wants to visit them on Ravelry, here are the links to the hat and to the feet.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The bread that ate Pittsburgh

I decided to try out a new whole wheat bread recipe today. But after I started adding flour, I realized that I was going to run out of whole wheat, so I had to substitute a couple of cups of white flour in at the end. Of course I had already added enough vital wheat gluten, yeast and dry milk to raise 100% whole wheat dough into fluffy bread. So I wasn't surprised when it rose very quickly and well. But I was not prepared for it to rise another inch-plus in the oven. sheesh! Can you imagine eating a sandwich from this loaf? I hope Mr Deplume and our daughter can find the strength to lug their lunches with them tomorrow to work and school.

I hope it tastes as good as it smells. Although the smell of the bread is somewhat overpowered by the apples and sugar and cinnamon in the crock pot, destined to become apple butter. Yeah, my house smells good. Doesn't look so pretty though. Painting and cooking are productive in their own right, but they don't facilitate picked-up toys or put-away laundry.

Oh well. Such is my life.

Monday, October 27, 2008

brrrrr!

Last night I went to bed, knowing that we were in the midst of a wind storm, and that the first bone fide frost was on its way. I awoke a couple of times in the night thinking, "it sure is cold in here." I woke up this morning, went to the thermostat, and it's 55 degrees in here (for you metric people, that's 12!).

I am now swilling hot coffee, and awaiting the moment when I can call the furnace magicians to come and wave their magic wand over it, and restore my castle to its regular level of toastiness. I'm a tad worried about my luck though, because when the air conditioner failed this summer, it only 11 wire connectors and a service call to fix it. A few years ago when I awoke to this sort of temp, if was the fault of a toddler in charge of setting the thermostat (that fix was free, of course). Surely I cannot keep up this charmed HVAC life I've been living.

Must now stop typing, as my fingers are stiffening up from the cold, so I'm off to hug my coffee and retreat under a blanket. I'll end up a frosty Normcicle if the heater won't cooperate soon.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ceiling Cat Hates Me

The ceiling in the front room has turned into quite an affair, which is odd, as I really thought that it would be the easiest thing in the whole project. There was a large discolored spot in the center of the room, presumably from old water damage. I figured it wasn't too bad, so I skipped the primer step. That was mistake number one. So then I started a second coat (mistake number 2), and it was obvious that I was going to have to go back and prime the center of the room.

By this time, I was low on paint-- it's a 300 sqft. room, and the ceiling has that sand texture on it, so a gallon is just barely enough for one coat. I went to a basement and pulled out another can of ceiling paint. Same brand of paint, and this was supposedly "bright white" and the other "brilliant white", so I figured that if mixed them together, we'd have enough paint for the third pass at the center part of the ceiling (to cover the primer) and I could put this to bed.

Here's where mistake number four comes in: the basement paint had apparently been tinted off white. I don't know why it wasn't labeled. So now I have 3/4 of a ceiling that is off white, and a few patches of brillirant white around the edges.

I have now whined enough that Mr. Deplume will paint the ceiling with the brand new gallon of "casual white" paint that I bought at Ace today, while I continue cleaning and priming trim. I swear I'll get this done by Thanksgiving when a zillion people will be coming over for turkey and pie. If you are a religious sort, and have a spot on your prayin' schedule, would you mind throwing my front room on there for me?

Here are pictures of what I've managed so far (click on the picture to see the whole album):
front room

Monday, October 20, 2008

Note to self:

Dear Norm,

You have small, uncooperative veins. When you mention to the phlebotomist at the church's blood drive that you are difficult to stick, and she looks at you with a little bit of fear in her eyes and says, "we'll be fine", stop. Do not pass go. Do not say to yourself, "I'm sure the reason that she has her name written on a piece of tape stuck to her lab coat is due to forgetfulness, and not at all a sign of someone in her first week on the job."

No, what you shall do in the future is this:
1. politely stand next to the chair.
2. ask for the expert in the room, preferably someone who has taught phlebotomy to others in the past (that's a pretty good sign, in my experience)
3. refuse to let them tell you that it will probably be okay.

Trust me, it's not worth it to get stuck in two arms by two people to try to get one pint of blood, because you don't want to hurt the newbie's feelings. Better to just have someone do it right the first time.

Love,
Norm

P.S. Today's Red Cross hero was named Steve Stick. Remember that name-- and ask for him if he's there next time.




Note to others who might be reading this note to myself:
I take much pride in the fact that my Grandma Bug was apparently often "the expert" in her years working for the Red Cross, with the blood mobile. I bet she would have gotten my my petite veins to cooperate on the first try. She had beautiful hands.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How cool is this?

I never would have thought of making a bird house out of an old porch light. I don't think I have a right to be surprised, though, since this spring a small family of birds nested in ours. Funny how sometimes the brain just refuses to take those tiny steps. But now that I know, I'll be trolling the thrift store for old sconces to make little birdies' homes.

I hope that there will be real, photographable progress on the living room this week. I plan on painting the walls today, leaving "only" the trim and floor to do. I decided the other day that home remodeling is rather like liver: it seems like a good idea, and the grilled onions smell so good, but you take that first little bite, and it starts growing in your mouth. You keep chewing and chewing, yet it never seems to be time to swallow. Unfortunately, I can't spit the living room out in my napkin and skip straight to dessert.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Uh Oh. Too much knitting.

Yesterday, I posted about my renewed fervor in finishing a project so that I can dig into that alpaca yarn that is chanting my name. I went to my Wednesday morning knitting group, and knit on the shawl. I knit a little when I got home, too.

Last night, my wrist was a little sore. I figured that I had lugged the boy around too much (he's four and still loves to be carried) and it was a little irritated. I went to bed. At 3 o'clock, I awoke to a throbbing wrist. I managed to prop it up and get back to sleep, only to squish it again a little while later. Ouch.

This morning I hunted down my old wrist brace, totally forgetting that it's for my right wrist I got it from the Occupational Safety department when I worked in an office). I think I need to go to the drug store and buy a new dealie for my poor pained appendage.

And no knitting for me today. I guess I'll have to clean the house instead. *sobs*

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Just keep knitting

I bought some lovely alpaca at a local farm the other day. I want to find and start a project with it RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately, I have a lot of other projects on teh needles right now. I mean like ten. That's too many. So I have declared that I cannot start anything new until I finish up some things. I need to frog and re-start the ski winter mask for my little super hero son, easy-yet-neverending shawl for myself, and the socks for the little lady for Christmas are all on the front burners now.

I worked on the shawl for about 45 minutes last night, got 3/4 of an inch done. Being a triangle shawl, each row is longer than its predecessor. Yuck. And the balls of yarn (I'm knitting double-stranded) just refuse to get smaller. It may never be finished, at this rate. I think after this I'm going to stick with rectangles. At least it's easy, and I can almost knit without looking. But all that purling and purling and purling. I prefer the look of stockinette lace (although this isn't really a lace piece), but I'm beginning to see the allure of garter-stitch-based lace. Less purling would be much easier on my hands.

As for the ski mask, can anyone point me to a good pattern sized for kids? I was trying to just adjust an adult pattern down, but I'm finding it rather difficult to do that much math on an odd-shaped object like a ski mask.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Owl update

The other night, as I was reading in bed, I heard our Eastern Screech Owl calling for the first time. I'll be honest and admit that I got giddy about it. I know they've lived in the maple tree outside our bedroom for at least two years, and even seen them a couple of times, but I've never heard the call of the owl before. It was amazing. I'm beginning to understand how people can turn a little birdwatching into a full-time avocation.

Oh, and I also started a Christmas gift, a superhero- mask for the boy. I'm a whole 1.5" in so far. I'm kinda inventing this as I go, so we'll see if it actually makes it to "Finished object" status. I'm dubious.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Seriously, someone stop me!

Thanks to my mama, I am the proud possessor of a Clover needle felting kit. She wanted to try it out and present it to her local Sewing Guild tonight, but found the whole process rather mind numbing. I expressed interest on Tuesday morning(as I am wont to do with pretty much anything fiber-related), and a short while later she appeared at my doorstep with needles and a brush and some of her first experiments.

A few minutes later I was rifling through the box, with the knowledge that I am now the "expert" for tonight's meeting. I did a little googling for tutorials, but didn't see all that much out there. Best way to learn something is hands-on, I always say.


poke. poke. poke. poke.
This is kinda fun. Poke, poke, poke. I wonder if I have any old fulled sweater scraps downstairs. And some yarn scraps. Poke poke poke. I think I need to make a special two-hour trip into town to buy some wool roving so I can do this thing right. pokepokepokepoke. I need to poke poke poke go poke poke poke to the store and do the poke poke dishes. After one more experiment...

Needless to say, I'm wayy behind for the day. But look what I've done.


The girl loves it too. She made this for her teacher, out of cheapo craft felt. (it's not wool, but it does seem to work pretty well)



Even the boy is getting into the action. Here he is designing "super hero symbols."


But now I really really need to get started on the other stuff like dinner and dishes and going to the library.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

UPDATE:

Still nothing exciting going on. But the blog feels sad when I don't post for weeks at a time, so I'm giving it a little attention this morning as I sip my coffee.

We did have a fun time last night when Mr Deplume's brother and family came over for dinner and lego tower-building (that was mostly a kid activity, though). I'm now kicking myself for getting not one photo of the event. They are from a far away state and it will likely be the only time they come over this year. Oh well.

Now I need to go pack a lunch for the girl and get dressed. Later today, I go back to the front room for more plastery adventure. Wish me luck, my faithful reader!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Just move along, nothing to see here

I mean it. I have very little to show for my days lately. I ripped down some wallpaper in the front room, and started patching holes, but then I realized that I needed to tape the corners in the room before I can go any further. I went to the hardware store and bought the tape, but they didn't have one of those nifty inside-corner-putty-knife-dealies. So no progress there, until I have a chance to get to a home improvement warehouse.

I have still been working on my "doable" shawl, but now each row takes like 15 minutes to complete. Have I mentioned that there are vast expanses of stockinette stitch on this? That's a whole lotta purling, folks. I thought a mostly stockinette lace weight project would be good, as it's mindless. A little too mindless, it turns out. It's rather like a woolen lobotomy.

But I've gotten all the dishes done three days in a row! Super boring factoid there, but it really is nice to wake up to a clean sink. Thanks, Marla Cilley! SOme day I'll even follow the rest of the tidy-house steps, but for now I'll be happy with my dishes progress.

And now for something fun: My four-year-old boy refers to the legs of pajama pants and sweatpants as bottom sleeves or foot sleeves. As in "My bottom sleeves are stuck on my knees!" IT cracks me up every time he says it. And I fear that soon he'll learn the right words, never uttering footsleeves again. The thought makes me sad. I don't want them to grow up quite yet. Waahhhh!

Tonight, we'll go to a local fair and ride rides and eat carnie food. Good times. Good times.

That's all for now!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Patterns? We don't need no stinkin' patterns.

Aprons were always part of the uniform in my table-waiting years, and I'd learned then of their usefulness. I've gone back and forth with wearing them though, during my adult years. If you are wearing an apron, it means you are doing housework. And since I hate housework, I prefer to act like it doesn't exist-- an apron is a cruel reminder of the incessant cycle of cleaning and dirtying and cooking and repairing. It seems that once you start wearing aprons, however, can never go back to life without them. Well you can, but you trousers get dirty quite quickly from the incessant hand wiping (being a waiter in a busy restaurant teaches you all sorts of bad habits). I'm currently back on an apron-wearing kick. But I have run out of aprons, as the old ones I got when I moved out of my parents' house 14 years ago finally had all ripped or disappeared. I do have one Christmas one left, but I'm not ready for poinsettias and holly just yet.

So I set out to make some more. I have about 4 apron patterns around here, some borrowed from my mom and a couple I've acquired over the years too. I do dream of making myself a couple of Lucy Ricardo aprons, but in really wacky prints. But what do I do when I go to sew one today? I decided to invent my own pattern on the fly, by recycling one of Mr. Deplume's old denim shirts. It's been said (usually by me) that I rarely do anything the easy way. And today's sewing escapade certainly bears that out.

However, after an hour or so of guesswork (45 minutes of that also included prayer), I ended up with a usable apron. There are pockets, ties, and the bottom three buttons are still functional, in case I ever want to make it a split apron (handy for more strenuous housework). I'm pretty pleased with myself.

I hope that if I make another one, it will take considerably less time. That's how it is supposed to work, right?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I've got Bats in my Boudoir!

At 1:30 am, my husband tapped me on the shoulder (at first I thought he was looking for some lovin’, lol). He said “we have a bat.”
I said “huh?”
"We have a bat." This time he stated it more slowly.
The slowness didn't help, "Wha??"
"We have a bat. In the house."
"What kind of bat?" I was still holding out hope that he was making a joke about our son's bear with the Batman suit.
"A bat bat."
"How do you know?"
"I was trampled by a cat while she chased it."
"Where is it now?"
"I assume over there where the cats are staring."
"Oh." It took a bit for it all to sink in.

Once I fully woke up and saw both cats sitting on the dresser, staring at the bat at the window, I fetched a small bucket from the kitchen, and turned on the light. This made the bat fly in circle for what seemed to be 12 minutes (I’m sure it was under a minute, though.) Mr. Deplume was still lying on the bed, not quite sure what to make of the situation.

I realized he could keep this up for an hour or more (the bat, not my husband), so I started trying to hit it with a Captain America comic (first thing I saw on the floor). As it turns out, it is very hard to hit a bat with a rolled up comic.

After a couple of minutes of watching me flail about, he snaps out of his stupor and stations himself on the other side of the bed with his pillow. After a couple of tries, he bonked the bat with the pillow, knocking it to the floor, half under the dresser. I grab the bucket, scoop him up with a magazine (full-sized this time), and we deposit the little guy back outside. I am happy to report that he hopped right up, and he flew off toward the neighbor’s house.

Note: it is very hard to go back to sleep at 2AM after chasing a bat out of the house. Also, when you wake up again at 3 AM, you'll be intently listening, to see if the bat had brought a friend who was still indoors. I like them better outdoors. Much better out there, eating skeeters. I hate skeeters, regardless of location.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I don't have time for this

Seriously. There's no time in my life for another hobby. None. Zip. Zilch. But fluffy roving and a spindle appeared at my doorstep the other day (really-- I go to get the mail, and find it there. I didn't order this stuff). What was I to do? First instinct was to put it in the cupboard and ignore it. But instead I left it on the desk and ignored it.

for 20 hours.

Then I couldn't take it any more. It was just staring at me. Taunting me. "You know you want to," it said. "You'd probably be good at it, too. You could be a prodigy-- you've always wanted to be a prodigy haven't you?" And then the force of it moved my fingers to youtube.com, where I started watching videos of people turning fluffy bits of wool into yarn. All of a sudden, I realize that the spindle and some roving were in my hands. And I was twirling and pulling and winding it into something that resembles yarn, sort of.
first spinning ever

I have to take a few days away from it, though, to ready the house for an upcoming 4th birthday party. But watch out-- next week I'm going to get the hang of it. Then I'll need to get another job to pay for the new expensive hobby.

Monday, August 11, 2008

So close...

I had a setback yesterday-- The third and final can of trim paint got pulled from the basement yesterday, to do the finish coat. I pried off the lid and started stirring it. I suddenly realized that it was flat paint! I thought I had bought three cans of trim paint way back when, but only two of them were semi-gloss. At first I was wondering how the home improvement warehouse could have screwed up so badly, but thinking about it now, I believe I bought it for the ceiling in the dining room. Oops. Now I have to buy another can of trim paint before I can finish. I might try to work on that this afternoon. I really really want this room done. I have a hankering to start on the kitchen and don't want too many projects going on at once. I'm bad about having too WIPs at once, whether they be knitting or home renos.

Speaking of WIPs, I started my Ravelympic socks again yesterday. I started doing two socks on two circulars, from the Knitpicks sock blank that I dyed on Friday. But it's just too many challenges at once for me, and since I had to rip the two socks out once already (too small, they never would have fit over my heels), I just cast on for one sock the second time, and am winding the second strand of yarn into a ball as I go.

My son is not happy that I'm using one of his cylinder-shaped blocks as the makeshift nostepinde. He seemed satisfied when I promised to give it back to him. However, I came back to my knitting after having gone to the kitchen, and found a little wound-up pile of yarn next to the sock. Hmmm. Apparently, when I promised to give the block back, I hadn't impressed upon him that I'd give it back when I was DONE. He just figured that he'd take it back right away. Little stinker is always looking for an angle. Luckily, the yarn slipped back onto the block with a little finessing, and we're back in business. If I get a chance, I'll take pics later.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

It's a raver! It's a terrorist! No...

it's painting day at the Deplume household.


I finally tackled the railing/banisters of the stairway today. This stupid project has taken more than a year now, but it's so very close to completion. After a frustrating false start with a primer that claimed to adhere even to glossy surfaces, but was clearly lying, I went back to my favorite old standby, shellac. This time, the shellac came in the form of BIN Shellac Based Primer. I love this stuff. It covers well, blocks stains and odors well, and dries lightning fast. The only drawback to it is that there are some fumes involved. First, you use mineral spirits to remove any waxy or oily buildup. Then you use ammonia to prep the surfaces for painting. And the primer itself has a fair amount of denatured alcohol in it. So of course, to avoid brain damage and/or blindness, I use a respirator. I look cute, eh?

Anyway, if you don't remember what I started with, here's a little reminder. In the above self-portrait, you can see the pre-painting banister/baluster (I can never get those words straight) as well as the odd little discolored plastic mirror on the newel post, which is also now covered up. The trim in this house was all painted a dingy cream color, of course being covered with bright white paint. Here's where we are now.


I still need to apply a finish coat, and probably some sort of protectant to the railing, but we are definitely in the home stretch. Next stop: kitchen!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I've been busy!

That's not exactly a truthitude. I've only been busy playing with yarn. The house is a mess, the roof still has a hole in it and the dishes aren't done. But the fruits of my labor are much more picturesque.

First up, some beautiful bamboo yarn barf. A friend of mine, who is an experienced wool roving and yarn dyer, tried out some bamboo yarn, to see if she wanted to branch out from wool. Unfortunately, when she tried to re-skein the yarn after dyeing, she found that it had turned itself in to many tiny tangled "yarnlets." She got one hank sorted out, then gave up and sent me the rest.
IMG_4618
I figured that she really was exaggerating about how badly the yarn had held up, but hoo boy, she was right! I spent an entire evening of watching tv trying to get together one hank, and it was no picnic. The thing was in no fewer than ten pieces. A sane woman would give up, but the stuff is just so darn pretty that I'll probably find a way to use it anyway.

And hot off the presses, folks, a summer sweater for me. I started this in March, but then got sidetracked, and worried about length and sleeves and decoragtive finishing a lot. I finally got sick of knowing it was there, undone, and pulled it out this morning. I realized that I didn't like the look of the sleeve I had done, so I pulled it out and left just the sleeve cap. I also forwent the decorative edging I had planned, and did just a simple single crochet border. I really still ought to get a cute little frog closure for it, but I'm calling this baby done. I might even wear it to church this Sunday. :)
IMG_4623
Pattern: created by Knitware sweater design software.
Yarn: Knitpicks Shine Sport, color: Cream
Hook: US H/5.0 mm

Sorry about the deer-in-the-headlights look, it's hard to pose for a portrait taken by a six year old. But don't you like my new hair cut?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ack! roof repairs in the rain.

After dinner, we were milling about, waiting for the big rain to stop and a particular TV show to begin when dh announced, "we have a leak." He went and got a bucket, and I started to see dollar signs.
It's raining cats and dogs and we just replaced the thingamajig and the watchamacallit, meanwhile, the doohickey and doodad are higher on my to-do list than the roof.

I took a deep breath, figured out that it was obviously near the edge of the low roof outside our bedroom window, and went off to look at it. I opened up my bedroom window, removed the screen, and launched myself over the dresser. That area is a section of rubber sheeting, as opposed to standard shingles (historically, most everything in my house was done in the most "frugal" way possible), so I looked around for a hole. Sure enough, there was a wrinkle at a seam about 10" from my window. The seam's adhesive had failed, and the hole was large enough I could stick a finger in it. crap. Once again, the Peter principle has kicked in-- home ownership is the ultimate example of having risen to the level of my incompetence. I have no earthly idea about how to fix a roof of any kind.

BUT, I didn't want to have any more leak, and I especially didn't want to have to leave a bucket in the family room until it stops raining, so I went downstairs, found an old vinyl tablecloth, chopped off a hunk with the kitchen scissors, and plopped it over the hole. I put some heavy stuff on top to keep it from blowing away right away and woohoo! it worked. The drip stopped in spite of another hour of steady rain.

Tomorrow's to-do list has just added "learn how to fix hole in roof." It's always something when you own a old house, eh?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Instant Gratification

That's what I've titled my recent knit project, although its designer named it the Star Crossed Slouchy Beret. I guess that's a good name too. I started it on the 22nd, and finished it last night. That's 5 days, people-- I don't know if I've ever knit something in only 5 days. Not that I'm that slow a knitter, I just get sidetracked really easily. But this was a hat with bulky self-striping yarn, cables and sz 11 needles, it was over before I could get bored. I'm still impressed with myself, though, as in this same 5-day span, I replaced the screen door latch, painted a window seat, newel post, and a couple of back door steps, weeded and mulched a few flower beds, planted three plants, installed the clothesline, helped out with Vacation Bible School at my church, went swimming thrice, among other things. I didn't do any laundry, though. Poor Mr Deplume spent much of yesterday working on that. The guilt is fleeting, though.

It's made from a partial ball of Austermann Murano, and it is soft and squishy and all too hot to wear in July, even just to take a modeled picture. I plan to make a matching neck warmer for myself out of the remaining 89 grams of yarn. :)

Friday, July 25, 2008

BIG NEWS!!

At about 11 o'clock this morning, my older child lost her first tooth. I repeat: we have tooth loss. Several of her friends in kindergarten were losing teeth 10 months ago, and she's been very impatient on this front. Anyway, it was marginally loose yesterday, but some fresh corn on the cob sped up the process, and a chicken sandwich closed the deal this morning. We have secured the tooth, and it will be presented for Tooth Fairy confiscation tomorrow night (they'll be staying at Grandma and Grandpa's house tonight, and the Molinator doesn't have their address on file). She was later surprised to find that Mr Deplume took half a day off work, and we all went swimming, where she showed off her new talent, the back float.

It's been a very big day.

Now we're off to drop the kids off for the night, then have a (slightly belated) birthday dinner consisting of copious amounts of sushi, then some shopping to spend the birthday money from my Mama.

Monday, July 14, 2008

green fur bike


green fur bike
Originally uploaded by NormDeplume720
First the good: this guy was showing off his free ice cream. Who doesn't love free ice cream?

But the the green fun fur -- that's just odd. Maybe it's just that I'm a Midwestern goober, but I just don't see the benefits in this. Anyone from Southern California care to enlighten me? And the upkeep: I don't want to have to vacuum my bike, too. Can you imagine how gamey that furry seat gets after a couple of long summer rides?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

As promised, the grilled meatloaf recipe

Someone expressed interest in the recipe from my last post, so here it is. If you try it, please let me know how you liked it. I'm really a fan, I think.

1 lb. Ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 Egg, beaten
1 Onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. Cracker crumbs
1/4 c. Ketchup
1 tsp. Prepared mustard
4 or 5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
a dash of salt, a sprinkle of pepper

sauce
1/4 c. Ketchup
2 Tbs. Brown sugar
1 tsp. Dry mustard
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg*

1. Combine meat, egg, onion, cracker crumbs, 1/4 c. ketchup & prepared mustard in large bowl; mix well. Shape into loaf; place in lightly greased 10-inch metal baking pan.**

2. Combine 1/4 c. ketchup, 2 Tbs. brown sugar, dry mustard and nutmeg in small bowl; mix well.

3. Grill over hot coals for 15 minutes. Place double thickness of foil on grill. Remove meatloaf to foil. (We found that it got a little too black on the bottom, so next time we'll spread out the coals, or move the loaf to the other side of the grill for less-intense heat)

4. Grill for 10 minutes longer or until cooked through, basting with ketchup mixture.


*The nutmeg really does add a nice flavor, even though it seemed weird to me at first.

**Because I had a time crunch issue, I placed it first into a 9-inch square pyrex pan and microwavfed it for 10 minutes at 50%. It didn't cook the loaf, but it heated it through enough that it only needed 25 minutes on the grill. I moved it to a metal pie plate before sticking it on the grill

Thursday, July 10, 2008

So much to post, but so little devotion

I'm in a slump here. Every day something happens that causes me to say to myself, "you should put that on the blog." But every day, I reply, "I'll do just that later tonight." But it pretty much never happens. But it stops here. I am now making a concerted effort to actually document the interesting stuff, instead of procrastinating. Procrastination is really only acceptable for yucky stuff like calling the dentist or paying bills or scooping the cat litter, not fun things like playing on the internet.

So here's a big catch-up post.

First off, we have a little example of Norm's insane obsession with old crap. A tricycle from my Grandma's barn. About 25 years ago, Grandma Bug decided she wanted a tricycle to use for exercise. So she got one. It was yellow and big and heavy and had a big white basket on the back. We kids loved it, but it was too hard for her to pedal up the hills on their road. Enter bright idea #2, the electric trike. It is red, powered by a motor on the front and a car battery mounted between the back wheels. We kids loved that trike, too-- nothing like pedaling down the road, and then pulling the power-assist lever on the hills. Zoom! I remember it like it was yesterday.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I saw a thread on Bikeforums about resurrecting an old trike. Suddenly visions of bicycle restoration pop into my head. A phone call, a flashlight, and a lot of dirt later, I came home with this:

The original yellow tricycle had been sold many years ago, but the red DeSoto was there, waiting for me. It needs a lot of work, but is in amazingly good shape for something played with by preteens and then stored in a barn for the last 20 years. If all goes according to plan, I'll remove the motor and put a big basket on the back.

I'd like to take a moment, here, to mention that Mr. Deplume never said a word. He helped me load it into the truck with only one little question, "why are we bringing this to our house?" And when I gave him my answer ("so I can fix it up and ride it, of course") he didn't even give me a funny look. He's a good egg, I tell ya.

Next post that should have been made last week:
I actually finished something! I've been working on this prayer shawl for months and months. I will never again use that pattern. It's too mindless and too tedious all at once. And it felt like the shawl refused to grow. But I persevered and got it done. This is my first object made from a recycled thrift store sweater. You can see the original sweater on the Ravelry page for this project.


And lastly, I made meatloaf on the grill this week. Well, Mr. Deplume was in charge of the actual grilling part (we like to keep our gender roles archaic, thankyouverymuch). I didn't take a picture of it, though, as meatloaf is ugly. But it tasted great. I started with a recipe on someone else's blog, but changed it considerably as I am incapable of following a recipe (or pattern, for that matter). It didn't really resemble the author's recipe at all when I was done with it. I remembered what I did differently, so if anyone wants my take on grilled meatloaf, let me know and I'll post it here for you.

So that's all I have for today, but promise to be back soon with more madcap adventures.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

oops- sunburn

I took the kids swimming yesterday. They had a blast. There were lots of blow-up flaties and googles and flippers. Both kids are itching to go back right now. In a rare instance of good parenting, I managed to slather both of them with sunblock. In a not so rare instance of run-of-the-mill stupidity, I forgot to slather my self with same. So now I have a upper-torso sunburn. At least I was wearing a hat, so my face is largely unaffected. As the optimist that I am, I'm thinking 'Hey, at least it will even out the awesome farmer's tan I've been rocking this summer." I hope it doesn't peel and go all away, just leaving a flaky and unattractive farmer's tan.

I have been trying to work on my many UFO's lately. The problem with working on stuff like that is there is no spark, no drive to get going. So I'm all too happy to sit around playing on the internet or cleaning the house and not knitting or crocheting. I have promised myself to have finished at least two projects before the Olympics. I'm not great at meeting self-imposed deadlines, but now that I've put it here, maybe I'll do better. :)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Nom Nom Nom. Doves are yummy

or so say the owls in my back yard this morning.


I've been watching them for an hour now, and they are still eating. There are two kids and one grown up. I wonder if this is the same owl I got a shot of last spring. Either way, I love their hoo hoo, ho hoooo sounds at twilight. I love that I have enough trees that they call this place home. I don't even mind that I'm going to have to clean up dead bird bones later today. I am blessed to live in an area that hasn't managed to wipe out all of the native species that belong here.


Update: I emailed the Illinois Raptor Center, and they very quickly responded to my query. Those are Eastern Screech Owls. I had been thrown off because my birds didn't have big ear tufts, but as it turns out, they can flatten them down sometimes, too. As an aside, I learned that the screech owls who live at the Center are named Mulder and Sculley. Their names match their mysterious nature, I suppose. :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A few last vacation pictures

On Thursday we went to Wild Things, a wild animal ranch. We got to see several big cats, a hyena, a baboon, etc. Unfortunately, most of them are behind chain link fences, so the pictures aren't great. But we did get to get some good views of elephants and ostriches. The zebra would only point his butt at us and poop in our general direction. At least he didn't projectile pee on the tour leader like the bengal tiger did.

Well crap-- blogger is being pissy about photo uploads, and I don't feel like messing with Flickr at the moment. I'll try to fix this up again later.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Name that contraption




Hey you-- with your mind in the gutter-- it's not what you think. That's a Banana Bunker. It'll keep your lunch nanner from getting all bruised in transit. Pretty cool, eh?

We're all healthy now in the Deplume household, although I'm still not totally unpacked. Life is just as busy as before we left, with dentist appointments, t-ball games, story time at the library, and on and on and on. Once stuff settles, I promise a few more vacation pictures.

And by the way, I crocheted a hat while on vacation. Right now it looks really ugly. I'm hoping that blocking will prove itself a miracle once again. Cross your fingers for me!

Friday, June 13, 2008

ugh.

The whole family has been under the weather. Nora is fine, but the rest of us, not so much. We'll live, though. We're staying at a hotel near the airport tonight and will fly out of San Jose at the crack of dawn tomorrow. Please pray that we're all pretty much fine by then.

We do have some more pictures of sights we saw in between the germ attack, but I'll wait to post them until we're home.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sorry there are no pictures for Wednesday

We were sitting on the couch with sickly Nora all of yesterday. She seems to be better this morning after a long night's sleep (in addition to the three naps yesterday), so we'll most likely see some sights this afternoon and evening. I might even get to go to a Trader Joe's and/or Whole Foods. For some of you that sounds just plain silly, but we don't have them where we live, and I'm giddy at the prospect of visiting these grocery stores.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fun with microclimates

Yesterday, we had a leisurely breakfast, then headed out to drive a bit on Highway 1 and take a gander at Big Sur. First we stopped at a Safeway to buy some new sunglasses for Nige. I didn't want him squinting all day and complaining about the sun (rightfully so-- it's really sunny out here). I got stuck in one of those express lanes that was anything but. First there was the lady who could not figure out how to use her credit card. I am not exaggerating when I say that she had to try the whole swiping process at least 5 separate times. I have no earthly idea why the checker didn't do it for her at some point, but whatever. The next guy didn't have a Safeway shopper card and needed one to get the sale price on his three packages of Starburst candies. The checker started off to the Customer Service desk to get a card application form, when an angel in the form of the next gal in line offered the use of her Safeway card. Nigel does love his glasses, though.

After that 20-plus minute stop, we were on our way. First, we stopped in the Carmel Highlands area and realized that it is very very windy there by the coast. Luckily, we all had appropriate jackets. Nora was afraid to get out of the car on this stop, as she felt like we were atop a sheer cliff. We weren't, but I can understand how her 6-year-old brain came to that conclusion.


After a while of driving around and finding that the Henry Miller Museum was closed, we stopped for lunch. It was only a few miles from our original stop, but holy crikies was the weather different! It was probably 90 degrees and still. We ate at a bakery/sandwich shop, then spent a few minutes enjoying the cacti and other succulents in the area.



We got back in the car, feeling very thankful for the air conditioning, and set back off for points north. We drove over some really tall bridges, most of them built in the early 1930's. Now I feel the need to understand 80-year-old road-building technology. They certainly didn't have the giant machinery that we see laying mile after mile of Interstate highway these days.


Then we got out at another point to take in the view. Again, the jackets went on. The cool wind was definitely back. But this time Nora got out and really enjoyed seeing the coastline. She said, with a giant smile on her face, "I'm sorry that I didn't get out the first time." Nigel remained inside the car, though, as he was having fun "driving" it.


We decided it was time to head back to Carmel and go stick our feet in the ocean. It was the first ocean-touching for both of the kids. That water is c-c-c-cold! But the air was warm everyone had fun. One rogue wave came up and soaked my pants from the knees down. That'll teach me not to wear shorts like everyone else. After a bunch of playing in the sand, we headed off to find the yarn store (nothing fabulous to report there, though) and come back home.


Unfortunately, vacation tragedy struck later last night. Nora has come down with a stomach bug. She's currently snuggling with daddy on the couch, and watching cartoons. We were supposed to go to a wild animal park (complete with lions and elephants) but I doubt that will happen at this point. Ive got a good book, and two yarn projects to tend to, and it's a sunny day. Nigel seems to feel fine, so I'm guessing he'll spend a lot of time on the swing set and slide outside.

Till tomorrow, I bid you adieu.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pictures from Yesterday

We went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It is as fabulous as I remember it. Maybe even better, because we got to watch the kids see it all. I didn't have offspring yet the first time I was there. We spent most of the day at the aquarium, watching otters and crabs and tuna and hammerhead sharks, touching limpets and starfish and bat rays.

"Hey Look! It's the fish from Nemo!"

Penguins are so cool to look at. I could have spent all day just going back and forth between the penguins and sea otters.
Some seals having a nap out in the Bay.
I got quite a lot of practice using the manual settings on my camera to get shots of the tanks without a flash. I just might figure out this photography thing yet. These particular guys are mediterranean jellyfish.
And super duper surprise for Norm here, there is a Dale Chihuly installation. I have a deep and emotional love for art glass, so I was as happy as the proverbial clam to happen upon this. Squee!
In addition to the sea otters, we met a few river otters, too. These guys are fast! And really hard to get a decent picture of.
We came back home, had a little rest, and another fabulous home-cooked dinner, courtesy of our hosts. The kids are still sleeping now, and when they get up, we'll head out for 17 Mile Drive and Big Sur. Nora is really looking forward to stepping her feet into the ocean.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The view from my breakfast table

I was informed yesterday that I'm a bad person for not updating my blog. And I'm sad about that. So this morning I woke up determined to update. I need my "good girl" endorsement back.

We are on a vacation in California, staying with Mr Deplume's Aunt Linda and Uncle Mike. They are wonderful hosts. They fed us a great dinner last night, lots of fun conversation, and then, when the two children were just about to fall asleep in their dessert, we wandered back to our quarters for a deeeep sleep.

Mr Deplume got up early this morning and got a run in. Having driven the hill that he had to climb to get the run started, I'm duly impressed that he managed to get three miles in. Sheesh. I'm a flatlander through and through, so this hilly terrain makes me a bit twitchy.

Once he got back, we came outside for breakfast on the porch. This is what I ate (that's yogurt and raspberry granola:

And this is what we looked at while eating:

Not too shabby, eh? It's a little cold though. About 50 out here right now, and my fingers are really chilly from all this typing. After the hot spell in Illinois, I'm really happy that we've had to take a sweater everywhere so far this week.

Once the kids awake, we'll head off to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I don't know who is more excited, the kids or me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pictures like this make me want to start quilting

I saw this linked on one of the many blogs I regularly read, Reclaiming The Home and it struck me as just the right combination of modern and old-fashioned. If I were in a position to add any new hobbies to my already backlogged life, I think quilting would be at the top of the queue.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Gardening is hard work

I spent 3.5 hours mowing, then weeding, planting, weeding, and transplanting. And it still mostly looks the same as it did this morning. A few weeks ago, we removed the grass from an area outside our back door. My mama dug up a few of her perennials for me, and I finally managed to get them all in today. I put in two rudbeckia plants last week, then today I put in the coneflowers, the peonies, and some dame's rocket. That was seriously toilsome work, as the soil there is pretty hard packed and rocky (it's right near the gravel drive and alley). Mr Deplume tilled it for me, but the poor little tiller had a hard time with all the hackberry roots in the way. So it's up to Normpower to dig holes big enough, then add enough compost and garden soil to allow the plants to grow. There's at least a 68% chance that everything in that new bed will die this year and we'll have to start over in 2009.


Since the kids were playing nicely outside still, I started efforts to fix up the back garden. It's pretty overgrown with grass, and weeds. Until last spring, there were giant yew bushes int hat area, until Mr Deplume borrowed a chainsaw. Now we only have giant stumps. Taking those things out will be unfun. Since I prefer fun, I'm ignoring them, and planting stuff around them. Luckily, the soil there is nice and black and loose, and has very little foot traffic. After clearing a good-sized patch, I put two peonies in (I know it's the wrong season for peony planting, but I had them, so in they went), moved a volunteer heirloom tomato plant to another location, and left one where it popped up. There are still about 50 tomato seedlings in the other end of the bed, but that will be work for another day. At least there is progress. I'll be taking a second shower today as I completely reek, primarily of creeping charlie.

I was going to share a picture of my newest knitting project, but I've prattled on too long already, and still I need to run to the grocery then shower. And my hands hurt. And by now, I've lulled you all to sleep anyway, so it would be a wasted effort. If you have read this far and are interested, you can go look it up on its Ravelry page. :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Drive-by blogging

I just got started in a shawl for me. It's in laceweight, but I decided on a really simple, mostly-stockinette pattern. Why? Because as much as I love the process of knitting lace, I'll never manage to finish a whole patterned shawl while my kids are young. I've had to accept my limitations, and go with something attainable.

But once the kids are both in school all day long, watch out! I'm going to be a lace fiend. I hope it's not out of style by then.

City-wide garage sale is this weekend. I have lots of pricing and purging to do before Saturday. Why do I do this to myself?? At least I have some furniture-like stuff that will make the yard look full without being a PITA for me to deal with. This afternoon I hope to put the 1960's formica kitchen table together so it can go. I love the table, but just have no place for it in my house. I bought it at auction 6 years ago and have not once used it. Bah.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Baconalia

The Anticraft is an online craft magazine that usually not-at-all-subtly reminds me that I'm a grown up. It is dedicated to macabre and or sinister crafts (to use their own words). It's a knitting, crochet, sewing, and cooking magazine, but with a decidedly dark twist. I have not ever had the desire to make anything from it.

Until today.

I present to you The Anticraft's Beltane 2008 issues, dedicated entirely to bacon. There is bacon fudge, bacon gingerbread cookies, a knitted bacon scarf*, and even a bacon crown**. Here's a snippet from the editor, Zabet Stewart:

I was thinking that bacon was a salty, crispy wonder of the world. I was thinking that bacon was a little like Mata Hari, seductive and delicious at first glance but actually devious and dangerous. I was thinking, "Cholesterol, schmolesterol." I was also thinking, at least while standing in the bacon section of the local grocery anyway, "I may just need to become a vegetarian."


I couldn't agree with her sentiment more. Even that vegetarian part. But good or bad, bacon mania has gripped the nation and I love it. I'm still inspired to find the perfect bacon cookie, and it's good to know that thousands of young, edgy hipsters will be joining me in my quest for the perfect combo of porky and sweet. It warms the cockles of my domesticated, conservative heart.




*yarn knit to look like bacon, not using bacon as the "fiber". I'm having troubles with misplaced modifiers there

** actually a crown made of bacon. I guess for your favorite pork princess.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Proud mama moments


Miss Nora wanted to learn how to knit. So we sat down, started to teach her, and she decided that it was still too hard for her little fingers. But she still wanted to play with yarn. So I reached back behind the mental cobwebs and recalled how to finger knit. I set her up with a ball of chunky purple yarn and her fingers, and off she went. This picture was taken about a week ago; the resulting tube is now about 8 feet long. Every time I break out my knitting bag, she gets her project and sits down next to me. It makes me squee with delight.

I'm not having the same delight at my own knitting these days, though. The wrap that I started with Trekking XXL is pretty, but lives in that irritating space between mindless knitting and something that I have to pay attention to. I kept forgetting to concentrate, and now there are several errors in it. I was thinking for awhile that I'd just try to block out the ugliness, but I just know that it wont work, and the bockety parts will bug me forever. So I think it is going to have to be pulled out. ARGH. Even that will be a pain, because it is being knit with two yarns at once.

I really need to finish the crochet sweater I started. I have the body done, I just need to finish the sleeves, then figure out a border. The sleeves will take me an hour or two, I think, but the border vexes me. I'll need the input of crocheters much more skilled than I to pick the right one that won't look stupid, methinks.

Sorry I've been a blog slacker lately. I've been feeling rather grumpy of late, and hate for all that grump to spill out here. I'll try to do better, I promise.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I could die from the cuteness

I've been open about my inability to knit socks. I've tried a few times before, and always seem to get bored or frustrated then frog them and use the yarn for something else. I went so far as to say that I have no desire to knit them. Just when I thought I had written off socks for good, something came into my life to turn all that resolve into "maybe I'll give socks one more try."

Let's back up a little. Last weekend, there was an Alpaca festival near me. So I took the girl with me, and we went to go meet some alpacas. There were something like 400 of them there. Plus vendors. I love any place with vendors. We watched the judging of young male Huacayas. Nora was really happy to see the one win that she was rooting for. And a few minutes later, a young girl (maybe 9 years old?) was walking her baby alpaca around, and let Nora pet her. How cute is that?? I am still angry at myself for leaving the house without my camera, but at least the phone has a camera-like feature on it to immortalize the day. If I had some farm land and a spare $10,000, I would have brought one home with me. They are lovely creatures.

As for the vendors, Marie from The Fiber Station was there. I had "met" her on Ravelry, and was happy to finally meet her in the real world, too. And she had the cutest little needles there. They are Hiya Hiya brand, and only 9 inches long. These are not straight needles, they are 9-inch-long circular needles. For knitting socks. Have I mentioned that I luuuve them? At first the novelty of them was what won me over. But now, it's the fact that there's no fumbling with DPNs involved. I know Magic Loop and two-circs methods are great, but I've never been able to convince myself to really try either one. I'm stubborn that way.

I cast on yesterday for a ankle sock, as I was anxious to get to the "meat" of the sock. I couldn't imagine wasting the time on a bunch of cuff right now (this impatience is mostly why I've failed at previous sock attempts). It took a little trial and error to get used to knitting with the 2" tips. I finally got the hang of it, got the cuff done. I turned the heel last night, it was a piece o' cake. I'll be picking up stitches for the gussets later today, I think.


Now I must go finish getting ready to play outside with the kids. it's supposed to be 63 degrees out this afternoon, and sunny. Cannot waste good days like this. All too soon it will be 90 and humid.