Monday, November 23, 2009

Projectile Vomit

Three more sleeps has become my mantra over the last 24 hours or so. J will return from China late Wednesday night.

I had two fears while he was gone. My No. 1 concern was a big snow storm would hit and I'd have to plow out the yard. My second concern was that the kids would get sick. It happened.

We were 35 miles from home after spending the weekend at Gramma Caela's when Edie started complaining her tummy hurt. Then she proceeded to projectile vomit throughout the entire car.

We stopped and I mopped it up best I could, changed her clothes and we got on the road again. I think I got the car cleaned out (although I fear opening the door to see if the smell is gone). I think her seat is clean, too. I think this afternoon I'll reinstall her car seat.

So far, no barf today. I think she's over it, and will be able to go to day care tomorrow and I can go back to work.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Precious Gem

When I bought my spinning wheel earlier this year from a fiber friend who discovered she didn't really like spinning, I volunteered to spin her some roving she purchased with intentions of spinning.

I recently got the guts enough to declare I was decent enough in spinning to tackle making yarn for someone else. Let me tell you a plastic bag identifying it as a 1/2 pound garnet, and nothing else. I took to spinning it.

I haven't been spinning long, but I realize this spun like butter. Nice long fibers, soft and a beautiful color. For some reason, it also has a wonderful cinnamon smell, too.

I finished spinning it a week ago Friday, and began plying Saturday evening while I placated the kids with a movie. I spun two bobbins, but obviously didn't get an even amount on both. I plied what I had, and then attempted to unwind what was left on two into a center pull ball so I could ply from that -- something I've managed to do in the past. Apparently it wasn't meant to be.

I created, what I think, was muppet fur [which I regrettably did not take a picture of] It was a nightmare. At least I did end up with a fair amount of yarn.

Fiber: Wool -- something with a long staple length and quite soft
WPI: 13 or so. That makes it slightly finer than a worsted weight wool
Yards: 330 yards.

I told Ellen that I needed to know what it was and where she got it, so I can procure some for my own use, as it was a dream to spin.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Goddess Improvises

For the last several days I-minion has been begging me to make "Oatmeal Cookies." I finally relented on Sunday and we mixed a batch of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies courtesy of Grandma Caela.

This is the only chocolate chip cookie recipe my mother ever made when I was growing up. I must clarify, that by the time I could make my way around the kitchen my mother declared "Making pie is against her religion." and I'm pretty sure that making cookies would also nominate her as heretic of the year.

If you notice the chips in these cookies are not quite "chocolate" in color. You see, this wannabe domestic goddess got everything mixed up before she realized there were NO chocolate chips in her house. This shocked me, as I usually have a stockpile of chips of the chocolate variety in my cupboard. I'd picked up a package of vanilla chips for a recipe I had intended to try out. For the record -- the cookies are quite tasty with vanilla chips.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla
1 12oz package of chocolate chips
2 cups oatmeal

Cream sugar and shortening well. Add eggs and mix. Combine baking soda and hot water and add to mixture. Mix in remaining ingredients, the chocolate chips last. Drop by spoonfuls on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until brown. In my oven it was about 13 minutes. Let the cookies cool, and store in a air-tight container.

If you are like this wannabe domestic goddess, you'll use a fancy cookie jar. In my house, you can see it is a pretty sweet container.

Under typical baking situations at our house, I mix the cookies -- often with help from the minions. Then J actually bakes the buggers. It's part of our teamwork. We both like cookies. I like to mix them up, but hate baking. He hates mixing but enjoys baking. This time around the kids and I mixed cookies, and I ended up baking them while they went outside and built a fence out of posts they discovered behind the chicken coop.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Self Portrait

Up until recently I used our small Canon point and shoot camera for my photographic needs. I have a old-school film SLR that was rarely used. Since my bills aren't paid by my picture taking skills, I never upgraded to a digital version of my film camera. Until now.

For those interested (and for those not, just scroll down) it is a Canon XSi with an 18-50 mm f2.8 lens. I think I've found a new love.

May I present a rare self portrait I took with the new camera.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Far East

From now until Thanksgiving the minions and I are holding the fort down while my husband is exploring the Far East. Well, maybe not the entire country, but the Eastern coast and Shanghai area. J's job is one where he works with engineers and suppliers who are based in China. He is on his annual trip across the Pacific.

We've spent the previous couple weeks getting the minions ready for the trip. We've made paper chains to count the number of sleeps until Dad comes home (13 as of today, Friday, Nov. 13). The kids cut and taped/glued them together. When I-minion finished his chain he commented on its length. "This is really long, that means Dad is going to be gone a long time." He started to cry. "There is water coming out of my eyes and I can't stop it."

The kids have been asking a lot of questions about China and where it is in relationship to where we live. After lunch on Sunday J broke out my globe circa 1918 (a antique store find more than a decade ago). Normally it sits on my cabinet in my dining room looking scholarly.

J pointed out where we live, and how far away China is and pointed out some of the different cities they'll be visiting.

Last time J was in China the kids were just about ready to turn 2. This time they know what's going on. Multiple times a day I hear: "I'm sad because my dad is gone" or "I miss daddy."

We'll be talking to J via skype a couple times. The kids' stuffed dogs that look like their real dogs are with him in China. I expect checking e-mail regularly with the kids so they can see what type of adventures the puppies have.

This is of course difficult for me, too. J and I are partners in everything in life. J and I split cooking, cleaning and parental duties. I'll be honest when I say it is intimidating to be doing this alone right now. It's also unusual for me to take over some of the duties that J just normally handles -- like loading and unloading the dishwasher and putting the dogs in the kennel in the morning.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I was raised by Muppets

I learned about life by watching Sesame Street. So many life lessons were learned on the street: Making friends, compromising, and counting in Spanish. Gordon was the first black man I'd ever encountered. Kermit the roving reporter inspired me to become a journalist.

We lived in the country. After my brother hopped on the bus, I would eat breakfast and Mom and I would head outside to do chores or other tasks of farm life. But mostly, I played with the sheep and chased the cats.

By 11:30 we'd be back inside and my mother would let me turn on the television. South Dakota Public Television was one of three channels that came in clearly. The first notes of the theme and seeing the kids and Big Bird walking through the grass would send me running to my mother urging her to start the water for macaroni and cheese.

As the water boiled and the noodles cooked I watched Kermit, Grover, Oscar and Cookie Monster learned about a world that seemed so foreign to a preschooler living in rural western South Dakota. I admit "Monster Piece Theatre" scared me, and I giggled madly when they decided they needed to count all thieves from "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves."

The life events that happened on Sesame Street seemed to mirror what was happening in my own life. Maria and Louis had Gabby about the same time my little brother was born. Mr. Hooper died shortly before my grandmother did. Seeing how the Muppets coped with life somehow made it OK for me to be worried if my parents would have time for me after the baby was born and to be sad about Grandma Edie dying.

As I've grown up I realized the skits, parodies and events at 123 Sesame Street mirrored pop culture, great literature and world events. Looking back, I think the combination of Sesame Street and my parents' influence played a critical role in developing my love of literature and learning.

I'm now the parent of 3-year-old twins. As cliche as it sounds as much as things change, they stay the same. I still live in the country. It's western Iowa instead of South Dakota. We get four television channels over the air and one of them happens to be Iowa Public Broadcasting. Sesame Street is a big part of my children's lives.

The format has changed a bit. The theme has a hip-hop bend. The Muppets are still there, so are the lessons. Interestingly enough I find the show draws me in much like it did when I was a child. Perhaps not quite to the extent of E-minion and I-minion are. They are exploring their world via the same street I did. Unfortunately the worlds are completely different. I am comforted that the kind words of Maria and the rest of the Muppets (including one of my favorites, Grover) are there to guide my babies as they grow up.

Today marks the premier of the 40th Season of Sesame Street. The Minions and I will be watching at 5:30 p.m., when it airs on IPTV. So in honor of the anniversary I am providing a couple of videos marking some of the best of the best. One old school clip -- Kermit the Frog, roving reporter -- and one that the minions and I both love -- Murray Had a Little Lamb.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

More Conversations with now 3-year-old

Cast of Characters:
I-minion, E-minion, Mom and Dad
Setting: At the supper table
[Half way through supper, a new topic of conversation is proposed]

Mom: What do you think about a baby coming to live at our house?
E-minion: [tilts head to the side and ponders for a moment] That's OK. I'm a big girl now. I have a big girl bed. The baby can sleep in my baby bed because I don't need it.
I-minion: [with a very serious look on his face] Mama, That is NOT funny.
Dad: Why?
I-minion: Well, babies cry all the time, and that hurts my ears.
Mom: [to Dad] Well, I guess we'll bring this up later.

Conversation Continued a few weeks later (after I-minion has learned it could be cool becoming a big brother and seeing that babies don't cry ALL the time)

E-minion: We could have a boy baby ...
I-minion: Or, a girl baby, OR [looks directly at our black labrador and thinks no, we won't have a puppy] a black baby.
Dad: Huh?
I-minion: We could have a boy baby, a girl baby or a black baby.
Mom: Oh, I don't think so.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Summer Hibernation

Based on the temperatures, cloudy skiesand the rain drops filtering through the atmosphere, it must mean that summer hibernation is officially over at Portrait of a Wannabe Domestic Goddess.

As good as my intentions are to blog consistently throughout the summer, it just isn't meant to be. This summer has been an unusual one in our little part of Iowa.

Let's name off the big news of the summer:

  • My in laws who have claimed western Pennsylvania as home for the last 12 years continued the process of moving to Iowa. A lay off just before Christmas and new job in a neighboring town prompted my father-in-law to move here, live with us for six weeks, before buying a house. It's October now and my brother-in-law is here, and my mother-in-law is in the process of getting the house in PA ready for sale.
  • With the excitement of the move and helping get everyone settled the garden was NOT planted this year. Rabbits have moved into the weedy area and have been feasting on the volunteer Marigolds and Dill I planted last year.
  • We camped with Kelli and T and their superstar dog Lilly. That had a big impact on the kids as they frequently "go camping" in the yard or upstairs.
  • We began discussing with the kids their thoughts on having a baby come live at our house. Thankfully they came to the conclusion that it wouldn't be so bad as there will be a baby arriving in February.
  • E-minion and I-minion moved into their big girl and big boy beds without issue. Their former room has become the "baby's room."
  • I've been knitting, a little, but more frequently ripping out since projects haven't been going my way.
  • I've been cooking some, but not a lot -- as the early pregnancy ickies took hold firmly this time. They've passed and I've got some semblance of energy now.

Since it's fall, I am in the process of making Halloween costumes, preparing for the baby and for my husband to travel to China for work sometime in November.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Day to Remember

Today is a day to remember. Remember the people who have sacrificed and given their lives to make sure that I, as a woman, can make decisions regarding my life; vote for who I want – without fear of retribution – and to raise my children to know God. That same sacrifice means another mother somewhere else in America can feel secure raising her children to know Allah or Yahweh.

It's on dates like today that I think of my grandpa Nelson. A World War II veteran who served in the Pacific Theater, My father said Grandpa didn't talk about the war until after I was born. Sometimes I'd sit on Grandpa's lap as a little girl when he described what it was like to swim the contents of the trucks from the LST troop transporter to the shore as they hopped from island-to-island. How the intense buzz of mosquitoes drove the soldiers back into the diesel soaked, shark-infested waters. He described how he feared that the "something" he bumped into while swimming to shore might be shark and not the side of beef as he originally thought.

Other times I'd sit next to him. He in his rocking chair with his chipped coffee cup balanced precariously on the wide wooden arm and me on the floor, looking up. Often the percolated brew was forgotten in the midst of the story. When he looked out, he didn't see me. He wasn't sitting in his chair anymore – he was remembering the heat and how uncomfortable he was in the flat-soled combat boots and the constant motion of the sea under him.

He reminisced about the poker game he was playing in the bowels of the transport ship when news came of the Japanese bombers hitting Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He passionately spoke of the ongoing argument between Army and Navy “brass.” One wanted their ship– one of the few remaining American vessels in the Pacific Ocean – to continue on to it's original destination, the Philippines, or to go to Australia.

I truly regret my grandfather Nelson died when I was an eighth-grader. He had only begun to share his experiences during World War II when he became sick. I listened to the stories, but as a child I didn't pay attention like I should have.

Today, I rocked his great-grandson and namesake in that same rocking chair as I struggled to find the right words to explain the significance of Memorial Day in terms a 3-year-old would understand. I fear I've failed.

His other great-grandfather is a World War II veteran, too. He died nearly 50 years ago and unfortunately, I know very little about him. I assume he served in Europe based on the silver Nazi officers' gun that has been passed on to my husband. The 9 mm holds Nazi emblems and is shrouded in mystery. I do not know where it came from or how he acquired it. It is one of the few items that link generations. In this case, there are no stories to share.

Perhaps part of my responsibilities as a parent is to share the stories I know, answer the questions the best I can and help my children realize that Memorial Day isn't just to remember those veterans who have died. There is a while new crop of veterans – people they know, friends of their uncles – who have given similar sacrifice to protect their rights.

Today on Memorial Day I remember the veterans of my country who have given themselves to make sure that on my 30th birthday the biggest hardships that I've faced in my life are insignificant compared to the persecution women across the world have faced and continue to confront.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Channeling the older generation

Tonight I cleaned out my closet and had several shirts that were worn out. Instead of just pitching them, I systematically snipped off the buttons. I'm sure someday I'll have the need for 1 inch burgundy buttons or 12 5/8 inch light pink buttons, so that's why I saved them.

My Grandma Edie would cut buttons off, save them for a future sewing project. The garment was placed in the "rag bag" for some future use. While I didn't put my shirt in the rag bag, I couldn't help but feel like I was channeling her in my actions. I did salvage two pairs of jeans for patching. It seems my main parenting task -- aside from reminding the minions that fingers don't go in noses -- is fixing holes in the knees of their pants.

I'm now beginning to think I need to start by own "rag bag." I remember Grandma Edie's rag bag being a magical place. When she'd make clothes for my Barbie she'd pull out the perfect blue damask to make a ball gown for Peaches and Cream Barbie. The magic bag also contained the fake fur coat that she used to make Dewey, my teddy bear. Twenty-six years later, there was still enough fabric remaining in the rag bag -- which my aunt now has -- for my mother to make paw pads for the teddy bears she made for her grand children.

If I create a magic place for my children to explore when I'm working in my craft room, maybe they'll leave the yarn and spinning wheel alone. Now there's a point to ponder.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I made my first major road trip alone with the kids this past weekend. Here's how the trip to Mitchell broke down.

5:10 p.m Left day care. The car is loaded. Everyone went potty and we’re on the road.

5:25 p.m. Stop to get gas in Orange City, about 20 miles from home. No one has to go potty. I go in to pay for gas and wait 15 minutes for the most incompetent cashier EVER to ring up a dude’s donut, lottery ticket and doh, he forgot to add the $20 in gas, but couldn’t figure out how to add the gas to the previous total of $3.28.

5:45 p.m. On the road again, finally.

6:15 p.m. Hit Hawarden, 20 more miles downt he road and turn onto Highway 12 to head south. A chorus of “I have to go potty” erupts from the back seat. I back track, to hit the new Casey’s -- which I know has a public potty and escort the minions to the bathroom.

6:25 p.m. On the road again. I finally give up on trying to listen to some news as I am bombarded with a slew of questions. Namely I explain what a gravel pit is, what an irrigation system is and speculate with I-minion where the train might go and why it isn't on the track for him to see. E-minion is content to watch the fields pass by -- almost on the verge of sleeping, I think.

I cruise through Akron, smugly knowing that I am on my way to Westfield (which is 20 miles from our last stop) where I will cross the Big Sioux River and have the highway automatically turn into the road that will lead me directly to Vermillion -- the midpoint of this adventure.

Alas, I approach the turn, the Iowa DOT has conviently blocked out the sign, that I assume says Vermillion, SD X miles. I have to back track to Akron to find a place to cross the river. I’m thinking horrible thoughts a la Oregon Trail and fording the river so I can cross wherever I want to. But, I don’t think it my little station wagon would do as well as a canastoga wagon and a horsepower of two --especially since the river looks high.

I answer a ton of questions about the bridge being closed for repairs.

I take the detour and head up and down some wonderful bluffs that A) I cannot believe they paved roads here and B) I estimate the slope to be somewhere around 12 percent range. E-minion mentions it makes her tummy feel funny. Thank you South Dakota for you 65 mph speed limits and my lead foot, for giving my daughter her first roller coaster experience.

I get off my detour, and attempt to follow my directions which were way whacked. So I eventually just find a paved road figuring it will either get me to Vermillion or to a sign which will tell me what direction to go to Vermillion.

7:25 p.m. I am on Cherry Street in Vermillion (which happily is Highway 50, for future reference) I call the little brother and we meet at McDonald's. As I finish the conversation E-minion pipes up I have to go potty NOW. I unbuckle her, she looks a little pale.

As we are washing hands, I-minion wanders under the automatic hand dryer, it turns on and scares him. He screeched and jumped enough to almost whack his head on the dryer. We come out and my little brother and his new girlfriend are there.

We eat the standard chicken bites and a couple fries, drink our chocolate milk. I-minion new stories about the 4969 pickup he works on with his dad. E-minion dances around her chair, it’s all good.

We hop in the car, with the little brother and head out. Everything is going well, and all we hit a weather front and the temperature drops from 55 to 42 degrees. The wind picks up and it to rain, hard. In no-man’s land between Yankton and Tyndall I-minion announces he has to go potty.

I try to convince him to wait until we get to a town. It didn’t work. I pull over, unbuckle. He doesn’t like the wind, rain or traffic – it scares him. Frankly, it scared me. It’s a two-lane highway that’s busy.

I-minion get’s his first “pee in the bottle” experience while standing inside the back hatch of my car, while shivering.

After I buckle him up, tuck his favorite blanket around him, he shivers for a bit before he announces he’s not doing that again – it’s too cold.

8:45 p.m. both minions crash.

9 p.m. Mom calls “Where are you?” Not there yet, I respond and remind her of traveling with toddlers is like.

9:30 p.m.
We pull into Mitchell, park the car and haul sleeping minions from the car into Grandma’s where they promptly wake up, convinced it’s time for breakfast.

The rest of the weekend went swimmingly. We shopped, getting new summer clothes. We fixed the grill, we napped (and mama ran errands with her mama). Then after nap we went to the farm were we met a baby cow. The minions were worried that he was all by himself and wondered why John didn’t have a calf-sitter.

We saw a batch of newborn kittens. Everyone took a turn driving the tractor. E-minion is a pro, after driving the mower with mom last summer as we picked up sticks. I even got in on the tractor driving. I hope to post more about the weekend soon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Vampy Scarf

I had planned The Rosalie Hale Scarf to serve as a substitute in the “mindless” knitting rotation after a particularly frustrating sock. The pattern is a free one from A.M. Downs (link to blog and pattern.) This is based on the scarf that Rosalie Hale wears in the Twilight Movie during the grand entrance of the vampires. It’s beautiful, long and elegant.

(I'll admit it doesn't look as cool, as it does on Rosalie in Twlight, but you can see the details nicely)

The chevron lace scarf has a 14 row pattern repeat. I wanted to knit it – knowing full well that I wouldn’t wear it. But I NEEDED to knit it. I bought yarn, Red Heart Soft (I was in search of Caron Simply Soft, but apparently none of the little stores that carry yarn in my part of rural Iowa have it). I cast on and the first half went well. I had gotten each pattern repeat to take about 15 minutes.

Then I got cocky.

I started the second half of the shawl and the entire process went something like this: Knit 21 rows, rip 14, knit 14, rip 14, knit 21 rows, knit 14 rows, and rip 21 out. I got a bit compulsive, I admit. There is not a mistake in the lace of the project.

Unfortunately, there are several mistakes in the single crochet border around the entire scarf. My mantra is “I hook because I have to.” I don’t like crocheting – there is too much wrist movement. My hands ached by the time I got around the entire scarf. I also was sweating a bit, considering when I was done I had 36 inches remaining.

Pattern: Rosalie Hale’s Scarf
Yarn: Red Heart Soft
Cast On: April 1, 2009
Cast Off: April 11, 2009
Blocked: April 12, 2009
Details: I love this scarf. I loved knitting it, but it isn’t me. I sent it to Knittingtothebottom as part of the Eclipse Swap on Ravelry. It's now making it's home in New Jersey, with potential day-trips to New York City. I think it's found a happy home.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Outlandish Swap 2.0

For my part in the Dragonfly in Amber Outlandish Swap, I made a double pointed needle case and a nostepinne. That's a handy tool for winding center pull balls. I rounded up two skeins of soy silk in a teal color. I also found a natulis shaped needle gauge. Recently I discovered the joys of bent-tipped blunt needles for weaving in ends. I thought I'd share. My Celtic themed item included seven celtic knot stitch markers. To top it off, there was a Swiss dark chocolate.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Outlandishly spoiled

If you haven't guessed, I spend a lot of time on Ravelry. It's where the cool yarn people hang out. We all come to this magical place from around the world because of one thing: yarn. As a way to get to know each other there are different groups you can join. I'm part of a group of fans of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander book series.

This spring a group of us decided to do a yarn swap based on the Dragonfly in Amber book (the second in the series). We all divided up into clans. I am the happy chieftess of Clan Mackenzie. I lead a group of 15 others in rallying the troops keeping everyone organized and of course cheering them on in the Highland Games -- a series of trivia games and logic contests based on the books.

The exciting part is when you get a special box in the mail. At the Wannabe Domestic Goddess house it's always a special time. This time the box came from Eilis, the clan chieftess of Beauchamp.

The entire box is chock full of wonderful goodies that take me along the path the Jaime and Claire experience during the book.

First off, there were goodies for the kids: Denim aprons embellished with E-minion's E and I-minion's I -- they were quick to pick up on that. I'll explain the connection to the book in a moment. Then there were shoe ornaments representing Lousie Rohan's monkey and King Louis' dogs.

Next out of the box were the fiber goodies: Eilis outdid herself on the beautiful colorful shawl made out of bird of paradise yarns. The drape and softness of this shawl is unlike anything I have ever experienced -- especially for crochet. (I might need to rethink my stance on the hook)

The shawl was wrapped with a beautiful tiger's eye and red jasper bracelet, that happens to match about 90 percent of my wardrobe. There were also two skeins of superwash merino/tencel roving for me to spin. As an added bonus it's in the "grinch" colorway.

(Edie is also amazed with the drape, too)

Eilis also knows that I try to knit when the kids are around so she made up a batch of stitch markers with the minon's names -- that is so cool, to have that type of personalization and nice bright row markers. She also tossed in an added bonus of a Mackenzie sticker -- I think I have good spot for that to go.

The last item, but not least is the consumables. Knowing life with twins can be harrowing (Eilis is a twin) she included a pair of single malt Scottish Whisky -- Glenlivet and The Speyside. There was a tin of spiced Chai and a Scottish Spoon Bread mix -- the aprons are so the minions can help without getting themselves messy.

I think the aprons will help when we venture into the realm of pasta making this weekend, since I-minion requested "blue" pasta.

At the very bottom of box was a small envelope with the note -- open me last. Inside, was a "photo" postcard that Eilis hoped would appeal to my "muckraking" journalist side -- a side I tend to suppress now that I am officially a "grant writer." This the idea came from a conversation we had on the forums on Ravelry. It certainly made me smile. No photo though, because it is a bit on the burlesque side of things, and this is a family friendly blog.

Thanks again for the wonderful package, Eilis!

Boys and Their Cars

We are a car family, thank to my husband. He's always loved cars and during the 13 years I've known him, he's owned more cars than I am old.

We go to car shows. We watch car movies (The Fast and the Furious, anyone?) and we collect cars. We've got five licensed and insured now, plus a handful or two of other project cars on the farm – including a nice little stash of vehicles tucked behind my barn, that once things start growing, are conveniently hidden in the tall grass.

We work on cars.

And if you are 3 that means:

  • You tote around ratchets, wrenches and play in the grease.
  • You also play “going to the car show” on your trikes.
  • On ambitious days you try to put the cat in a wagon to take her to the car “scruze” (cruise).
  • Then you're confused why the cat runs away whenever she can wriggle out of your arms.
  • When it is too wet to play outside you play “car cruise” and line up all your little cars on the couch. It's a drag when you mother tells you to pick up your little cars, so you find unique ways to store them. This is my rocking chair.

Spring is a particularly busy time of year a car family. Weekly car cruises started two weeks ago and neither of our classic cars – a 1969 Lincoln Continental, with suicide doors, and a my 1949 International Pickup – are road worthy at the moment.

The front brakes need to be replaced on the Lincoln – a fact we discovered after the first day J took the car out of the shed from the winter. Let's just say finding replacement brake pads and calipers (the thingies that hold the pads and actually “squeeze” the rotor to make the car stop) are a little hard to find.

We bought the pickup last year and my husband transplanted the engine, transmission and rear end from a 1977 Monte Carlo into it -- the "donor" just happened to be living behind the barn. He had to rebuild the front suspension to accommodate the modern engine, transmission and brakes. This spring, he discovered one of the welds holding the shock mounts in place broke free. I can't drive it until it is fixed. We've also got to replace the seats with ones taller ones so I can see out the window. Oh, and seat belts are also nice addition.

Of course, it's difficult to work on these projects when the main shop is full. My husband's beloved 1-ton pickup is ripped down to the frame and is in the process of restoring the body and installing a turbo on the engine.

Here my hubby is in happier times with his pickup. We were in college and I needed an environmental portrait for my photography class, and this was one of them. Shot with an old-school Nikon with a true fisheye lens. I had to hold for an 1/8th of a second (I was much more steady years ago). It's still a little grainy and of course he doesn't sit still, but it's a great shot of his truck and the shop.

This is the first year I'm actually looking forward to the car cruises and shows. I think it has something to do with the fact I'll have my own to drive. This was last summer right when we were test fitting the engine and front end.

I think my pickup needs a name. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Restoring the Faith

I bought a lushious skein of Conjoined Creation's Flat Feet yarn (I don't remember the colorway but it is warm, cozy and very nature-like) I decided to do my first toe-up socks, my first two at a time socks and my first short-row heel (on life-sized socks); all on magic loop. I've knit, to day 10 pairs of socks, so I thought I could handle the multiple facets of new technique.

I scurried off to Ravelry for the perfect pattern and settled on Nagini (Ravelry link). I've done cables before, so I didn't think much of it.

Cast on while convelescing for three days post knee surgery in September with grand plans to complete and wear to my check-up in late October. It went along swimingly until I royally messed up the short row heel on one and screwed the pattern up on the other. After sitting in purgatory for more than a month and still struggling how to fix it, I decided that they didn't fit well and frogged. This was my second Ugh! posted on Ravelry.

Here is an out-of-focus shot of the socks, pre frogging. I made it small so your eyes wouldn't cross.

In order to restore my faith in my sock knitting ability I went to a safe place with my beloved yarn -- 5 dpns and a ribbed sock. Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks answered my prayer her garter rib socks. It's also an amazing sock knitting reference. Want to know how to perfect the kitchner stitch, eliminate the donkey ears on the heels and make different toes, heels, cast ons and bind offs. Her books are my go-to for sock knitting.

Yarn: Conjoined Creation's Flat Feet

Colorway: hmm I don't know

Pattern: Garter Stitch Rib from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Soocks

Cast On First Sock: 3/12

Cast on Second Sock: 3/27

Finished: 3/27 -- that my friends, is 17 days to a pair of socks. Not to shabby, huh?

Details: Cast on double the cast on and during the first round I k2tog, k2tog, P2tog, p2tog to end up with my 56 stitches to complete the pattern. I love how I actually got the pattern centered on the top of my foot. This pattern does create an elegant sock that easily could be used for a man in appropriate colors -- like black. The pattern is interesting enough you won't get bored, but not so complicated you have to think about ever stitch.

I can now war these socks with my favorite brown pants.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Sometimes I must tune out the constant noise coming from the mouths of my children. Usually I just listen for the plaintive cries that mean someone is hurt. Those are usually are prefaced with a general scream/screech and in the worst cases a loud thump.

Saturday night I was visiting with J as we cooked supper. The kids were playing in the living room and I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention. They weren’t fighting, but they were digging things out of the large drawers of my entertainment center.

Soon there were screeches. Then a couple screams that became more distressed. I finally realize that this isn’t going to go away and I head into the living room. I come in to find E-minion shoving the large bottom drawer closed as hard as she possibly can, but there’s a problem – a leg is sticking out and she’s slamming it and each time she does I-minion squeals.

Yes. My daughter was shutting her brother in a drawer. It was so hard not to laugh. After E-minion got a time out for hurting her brother and I-minion got calmed down we had the discussion about how it wasn’t OK to push her brother around and to not automatically do what the other suggests.

Thankfully I was able to avoid the “If your friends jumped off a bridge would you do it too?” scenario. Iminion then asked me what “Gullible” meant, because Eminion called him that before he crawled in the drawer.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More Conversations with a now 3-year-old

Cast of Characters: I-minion, Mom
Setting: In the Garage, after we get home from day care

[I-minion picks up a 'Noah and the Arc' lift the flap book up from between the car seats and starts looking at it and identifying animals pictured.]
I-minion: Mama, who is this book about?
Mom: [Looking at the book] It's about Noah. Remember him?
I-minion: So, does this Noah guy, like "know things?"
Mom: [Rolls eyes] I suppose so. He knew he had to build the big boat and gather two of all of the animals.
I-minion: Yeah, but HOW does he know things?
Mom: I'm guessing God told him.
I-minion: Oh. OK.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Éirinn go brách!

As a girl who claims majority Irish ancestory, today is a day to celebrate heritage. Instead of imbibing with a bit of green beer or exciting revelry, I'm marking the occassion with either A) A Guiness or B) A nice glass of Irish Whiskey, neat. I don't know which will be the beverage of choice tonight.

Here's an Irish Blessing that my mother taught me when I was a little girl:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And may you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you're dead.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Weekend by the Numbers:

42 Hamburger buns munched down
24 Eggs served over-easy
11 Steaks grilled
9 People sleeping in my house
5 Naps taken and we’re not talking about the 3-year-olds -- they didn't nap
5 Pounds of chicken wings consumed
5 Pounds of potatoes baked
4 Onions sacrificed for lunch
4 Uncles (including a few of the “great” variety and I’m not referring to their status)
4 Comments made regarding either A) the need for waders because the BS was getting a little thick or B) the need to install a floor drain in the living room to wash the BS down.
3 Pounds of raw baby carrots eaten with both Ranch and Blue Cheese Dressing
3 Gallons of milk gulped down
2 ½ Pounds of ground beef turned into taverns
2 Heads of cauliflower eaten with both Ranch and Blue Cheese Dressing
2 Heads of broccoli eaten with both Ranch and Blue Cheese Dressing
2 Jam sessions with guitar and ukulele
2 Rolls of TP flushed (Hello septic system, are you OK?)
2 Accidents by the newest potty trainee because she couldn't get into the potty in time
1 Pound of cheese of the Co-Jack and Baby Swiss variety consumed
1 Can of coffee (don’t ask how many pots the Bunn was asked to provide)
1 Door knob, dismantled
1 Aunt (also of the great variety)
1 Gwampa
1 High school-aged cousin
and her boyfriend (All of the males said the same thing in their best Mr. Burns impression “Excellent. Fresh meat.”)

To numerous to count:
Pots of ice tea made and consumed
Beer drunk (I went to bed before much of it was guzzled after I went to bed. I’m guessing Uncle Dan did put much of it away, considering I didn’t see him much on Sunday)

Lessons Learned:

  • I am my family. My laugh, gestures, sense of humor and in some aspects, my looks, comes from the family. It is obvious that I have passed many of these traits on to my children, since I see them in some of their actions and tone of voice.
  • Expect the living room to be filled with laughter, maybe a few tears when you say (while standing in the laundry room) “No, you can’t have the screwdriver back. You took the door knob off.”
  • Expect the uncles to love the story that your almost-2-year-old got kicked out of day care for a day because he bit someone and drew blood.
  • Expect lots of stories about the horribly embarrassing things that I’ve been credited with over the last 29 years – including several my husband has never heard.
  • My kitchen works can work as a good buffet set up.
  • My table can accommodate 12 people sitting around it -- if I can locate that many chairs.

Monday, March 9, 2009

One Day After the Time Change

6:20 a.m. J stumbles out of the bed; questions whether a spot he thinks he sees on the wood floor in our bedroom is blood (from the dog); decides it isn’t and heads down stairs. I'm left questioning what was a blood spot and if there was a spot, why did he leave it. For the record, Rocky frequently bleeds in our room.

6:30 a.m. I realize the likelihood of the college calling a snow day are pretty slim. Yes, we got several inches of snow, sleet and freezing rain, but it all melted less than 6 hours later.

6:32 a.m. I stumble downstairs wondering why the kids aren’t up yet and silently rejoice.

6:45 a.m. I finish the morning routine in the bathroom, deciding that my hair doesn’t look too Medusa-like and confine it with a head band. I stalk out to the laundry room dreading that I probably have a dryer full of wrinkled clothes that should have been hung up yesterday.

6:46 a.m. I rejoice that my husband hung up the entire load of clothes. Find my favorite black pair of pants, and a shirt – any shirt. I settle on a pink v-necked sweater with three-quarter length sleeves.

6:47 a.m. I am dressed and putting my shoes on. J isn’t dressed yet.

6:49 a.m. I flick on my hot water pot to make tea to take to work. I tripped over one of the dogs and stepped on the cat.

6:50 a.m. I start assembling my knitting for Knit Night tonight, putting the kids backpacks, snow pants and shoes all together. I realize Edie’s snow boots are still SOAKING wet from our adventure yesterday outside.

6:55 a.m. J heads up stairs to wake the kids up, apparently the time change has gotten them.

6:56 a.m. The screaming begins.

6:57 a.m. J comes downstairs with mole baby (Eminion) and a screaming Iminion. He also has their big Kelli blankets and their clothes. [No this isn't theirs, it a sample of the wonders that polyester and flannel can do]

6:58-7:12 a.m. The screaming continues. J wrestles the kids into their clothes. Ian finally calms down.

7:13 a.m. This is the normal time I herd the kids out the door. Iminion tromps out to the laundry room, reluctantly puts his boots on. Throws a small fit about putting his coat on, thinking I won’t zip it for him.

7:14 a.m. The screaming continues. Gently remind him that I’ll help him zip it up. Gather up my knitting bag, purse, tea cup, and grocery bag full of snow pants to haul to the car.

7:15 a.m. J is helping Eminion to put her coat on. She hands me her boots and says “They’re still Weeet” in all the whine a 3-year-old can muster that early in the morning.

7:18 a.m. I walk out the door with a second load of crap to haul to the car; including Eminion’s wet boots. I was feeling quite like a pack mule at the time. Iminion follows because he wants to be buckled up.

7:19 a.m. I dump the load, buckle him up. He complains he’s cold. I forgot to let the car warm up.

7:20 a.m. I meet Eminion standing in the doorway. “Carry me!” she demands. I refuse, she melts into the floor of our dirty nasty garage. I walk past her, to get the last thing, the kids’ blankets.

7:22 a.m. I say good-bye to J and walk out the door. Eminion is in full on fit.

7:23 a.m. I realize I’m so very, very late. I pick her up. Haul her out and put her in the car seat.

7:24 a.m. I discover how flexible Eminion’s back is, based on how much arch she is able to get while fighting me. Iminion is crying because he’s cold. I pull his blanket on him.

7:25 a.m. The screaming continues. I can hear it when all of the doors are shut. I tell J I’m glad I only have to take them ¾ of a mile to drop them off at day care. He’s putting the dogs in the kennel.

7:26 a.m. I sit down, buckle up and start the car. I am serenaded for the entire trip to day care.

7:35 a.m. Finally get out of day care and begin the trip to the office, contending with slick roads, fog and a general foul humor.

8:10 a.m. I arrive at work. I am now puzzling the importance of switching to daylight savings time, and how much good it really does us.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More Conversations with a now 3-year-old

Cast of Characters: E-minion, Mom
Setting: Garage, in the morning while getting ready to go to day care.

Mom: Hop in your chair so I can buckle you up.
[E-minion jumps in her and Mom leans over to buckle her up]
E-minion: Your hair smells good.
Mom: Really, what does it smell like?
E-minion: Rat food.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Nothing is safe, anymore

Iminion has an uncanny ability to see and understand how things work. He mastered pounding nails into boards at about 18 months -- that is, if he could find a knot hole, or some other flaw in the board to hold the nail in place. By the age of 2 he could pound in a whole line of nails in a 2-by-4, without any prior holes. To this day, I almost think he is more accurate with a hammer than than I am.

In the last two months he's conquered the skill necessary to twist a screw into a board. This skill has manifested in ways ultimately more useful than pounding nails. Iminion discovered he could remove the screws holding his toys together and the theoretically well designed battery compartment lid.

He decided to change the batteries in his police car. After scrounging up a phillips screwdriver, that's exactly what he did.

Tonight while putting laundry away, he'd found a little screw driver that comes with assemble-yourself-furniture and he decided to remove the brackets that hold the shelving unit in his closet. I discovered this when he had four screws out.
He loves to "fix" and he knows where all the tools are located -- especially mine. My tools are kept in "sanctuary" to protect them from tool raiders. J, my husband is a known plunderer of tools and it appears Iminion is too.

Everyone encourages it. Iminion and his Uncle Dan assembled a bird feeder after opening Christmas presents.

This summer he was all about building and fixin'.

Heaven help me when he is capable of even more than this.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Proof, I really do knit

Finally I have proof that I really am a knitter. Last week I started the Irish Diamond Shawl based on Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls book. It was an amazing gift. Leafing through the pages I was instantly taken by this Irish Diamond Shawl.

I picked up the yarn, Kraemer Sterling and Silk in the colorway "red carpet." It feels so Old Hollywood glam. The silver flecks are actual sterling silver.

I cast on a week ago, and ended up frogging, or ripping out the entire work because I was convinced that I had messed up the yarnovers. After frogging how many thousand stitches -- I'd cry if I actually knew -- I cast on, and knit the neck band, and three repeats in about three and a half hours. Each repeat takes just over an hour.

I have finally memorized the eight row repeat, considering that it stays the same until I have 15 diamonds in each section of the shawl.

Once completed it should measure about 54 inches square.

Oh, those green threads and white threads that look like dental floss, are my life lines. If I mess up, I'll be able to unravel to that point and easily pick up the stitches. I learned during my last foray into knitting that I should keep them in place for more than one pattern repeat, however, five might be a bit much. . .

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Trials of a Wannabe Domestic Goddess

I have grand delusions of being a domestic goddess, hence the "wannabe" in the tag line. This week Rocky, my black lab, single-handedly demolished this notion Monday night after I spent 45 minutes cleaning up high-velocity blood spatter off my bathroom walls and scrubbing the blood out of the living room carpet.

Rocky has the delusion of being a big, bad dog who hunts critters and keeps his yard safe. Unfortunately, he isn't very good at it. Monday night he came home bleeding and laid down on the carpet. The next thing I know, there's little puddles of red stuff on the carpet. I quickly discovered the source, a chunk of his ear was missing. Yup, someone/thing bit a piece of his ear off and every time he shook his head, blood sprayed everywhere.

After consulting the American Red Cross's pet owner first aid book (a Christmas present) on the best method to wrap his ear. It took a while to find a method that would keep his ear in place.

He looked a little funny.

Jasmine, our other dog, ridiculed him. She didn't allow him in the machine shed, where they have a cozy corner full of hay. She made him sit in the dog house. I think his ego is hurt.

I know that if I'm ever consumed with the desire to off someone, I'll chose a method that doesn't involve blood spatter. Every time I think I've got it all cleaned up, I notice another dark red, almost black spot on the wall, light switch, vanity, shower curtain and bathroom rug. There's no way I'd ever get a crime scene cleaned up to exclude myself from the invesigation.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We have yarn

Tonight I kicked the minions outside with their father. It was 45 degrees, and they haven't been able to play outside after supper since, oh before winter started. So, out they went, and I sat down at my yet-to-be-named spinning wheel to experiment with plying by singles.

It worked.

I cannot believe that I actually have yarn, useable yarn. While I don't have a handy tool to easily tell how many wraps per inch I have, but I'd guess that this is worsted weight, overall.

I think I like this spinning stuff. One skein is typical size, and then I have two smaller ones. All are balanced, they don't twist up on themselves. Once again, I'm in shock that they turned out this well for a first time.

I believe that I'll be spending more time at the wheel and in search of fiber.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A new obsession

One week ago, I got this:

It's a Louet S10.

To make:

I already have two bobbins full and intend to try to ply it together while the kids nap. I'm in love. So is Tori. She pretends not to be.

But, all my wool has a chance to see is this when she's attacking the bundle of roving.

Tori has turned from a yarn loving kitten into a fiber-holic much like me. She has taken my nice roving and mangled it to pieces. She even likes to mark the wheel as hers.

It's amazing how soothing a spinning wheel can be. I've been spinning some undyed roving that came with the wheel and will be out soon.

The next challenge: fiber acquisition. Imagine the possibilities!

Oh, and to find a good chair to sit in while spinning in the living room. My favorite rocking chair doesn't quite cut it, and neither does the couch.