Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A bit of this and that

The blanket for my wee niece is finished. I could not be happier with it. I will be bundling it up today with a cute pair of booties to mail, and then I can share it with you. I hope it is well received. Of course, my baby brother will tease me and tell me some major merchandiser sells blankets, but my dear sister in law will be kind.

After casting off the blanket, I let out a sigh of relief and then readied myself for something new. Does the end of a project sometimes drag on and on for you? I find myself dreaming about the next new thing at times.  The edging for the blanket was one of those never ending projects. No matter how many times I measured it still came up short. With it finished I excitedly cast on for a stripe study shawl. I am sure you have seen the designer as another of her patterns, the Color Affection shawl, is all the knitting rage. I am using a bit of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light. It is my first time knitting with it, and I like the result. I have six stripes done thus far. It is an addicting little pattern.

In addition to my knitting, I also have the crochet hook to occupy my hands. I finished the assignment for the first week and have three granny blocks to prove it. I am beyond tickled as my crochet skills are limited thus far to hats, flowers and ruffles for baby shorties. With such confidence, I even added a bit of crochet striping to the blanket edging. This week, Blair of Wise Craft, has asked for 10-14 small grannies. Those will be done today or tomorrow. The kiddos love picking out the mishmash of colors. I am loving the idea of a blanket done in small steps. I doubt I would ever knit a grand blanket without the challenge of small assignments and the knowledge that a group is working toward the same goal. (If you are a veteran or new crocheter, I suggest following along. She posts a lot of help. And there is even a revelry project for it).

As I mentioned in my weekend recount, while finishing the baby blanket, I listened to the end of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I really enjoyed the audio version as each character in the novel had his or her own voice for the narration. The book is setup as a series of letters between several individuals. I enjoyed hearing the story told from these different perspectives. I also finished Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet. It was worth the thirty cent overdue fine to finish it. I enjoyed the author's tales of life on their farm as well as her transitions through life. It was a good read and went rather quickly.

With those two books complete, I began a new audiobook, Death Comes to Pemberley. Someone in the Ginny's Yarn Along mentioned this book, so I queued it. I am not very far into it, but enjoy it thus far. It is a continuation of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. For a printed book, my library hold on The Art of Fielding came up. I eagerly began it once the final page of Sheepish was turned. I am still in the setup of the novel exploring the characters and setting the stage. It is a quick read and enjoyable thus far.

With all that, what are you working on this week? Leave me a comment so I can take a look and get new ideas for patterns and books to read.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Extra Weekending

With an extra day to day, we spent our weekend
* with a special visitor who arrived late Thursday night
* at the library gathering many books to read
* reading those books together and alone. strewing them all over the house - on the floor, tables, beds, everywhere (I think they are getting better at carrying books home, since we seem to end up with a lot)
* going to a movie
* staying home so others could go to the Air and Space Museum at Dulles
* finishing a special baby blanket as well as one little bootie while getting some time alone
* completing both of my books, Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and starting another
* walking to breakfast
* playing at the park
* another movie for some of us
* a date day with my oldest spent having dinner, lots of frozen yogurt and walking to the bookstore where we camped out in the humor section reading and knitting
* riding the bus home in the rain after the date, because mama was cold and is a wee bit afraid of the dark
* tricking daddy by texting him about missing the bus while standing outside the front door
* worrying about a favorite lost LEGO minifig head
* finding new shoes for everyone - don't laugh when you see our group of five sporting fivefingers (yes, I find them very comfortable although not too cute)
* starting a new project and completing six of twelve stripes
* saying goodbye

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Yesterday the whole family ran some errands in the afternoon.  On the walk home, feet started to get tired, sides hurt and a storm was imminent. The older two convinced me to hop on the bus and ride home (a little over two miles). Dave was steadfast and continued to walk with Benton in the stroller. Once we arrived home, Aine wanted to wait for Daddy. She was concerned about him and wanted to let him know he was missed. While waiting, we chatted and I knit a bit on a pair of socks (the heel turn is almost done). Suddenly we heard a boom of thunder. We glanced out the windows and saw the beginnings of a torrential downpour. Yikes! Eamon and Aine ran outside to dance in the pouring rain and look for their dad.
Dave arrived home a bit wet shortly after the storm began. With an umbrella in hand, Benton was dry and well rested, since he had fallen asleep on the walk home. A quick change of clothes and we all settled into the couch and chairs together. LEGOS were pulled out, and tea was consumed.
After a bit, I decided I needed to get to work on my granny square sampler. With hook in hand, I watched the instructional videos again. As the kids played with LEGOS and then eventually turned on a movie, I crocheted those squares. I wanted the colors to work well together, but then I remembered not to over think it (something I do often). I set the balls on the floor and just grabbed. A few rules were kept, but the colors flowed. I did not get up from my spot until I wove in the ends on my last granny square. I now have three crazy squares and am eager for the next assignment tomorrow. I am so glad that Blair engineered this project. I may just add crochet to my bag of tricks.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Winding My Way

With the good news that my little niece was back on her way home after an unexpected return to the hospital, my fingers returned to the border of her blanket. She was deemed perfect yet again, and she needs her gift. I am "this close" to being done. I just need to sew on the border and wrap it up. The border took much longer than expected. (for those asking, she was admitted for a fever. it was deemed due to dehydration. all is well now)

Since the blanket is almost off my list, I have been filling up the queue. After being bit by the crochet bug with the baby's hat, I decided to participate in Blair's Granny Square Sampler Project. I am actually quite excited. Eamon and I watched the videos she suggested, and we are well versed in the ways of the granny square. He is quite certain he can make a few too. I am hoping it becomes a bit of a family blanket. I fondly recall curling up under an afghan my mom made. In typical 70s style, it was green, yellow and brownish orange. I tried to follow a different palette when picking colors for our blanket. I used what I had here and supplemented with a bit of cascade 220 from webs (for those in the search, their anniversary sale ends this week cascade 220 was $5.99). I spent yesterday afternoon with yarn wrapped on children's arms or my feet until finally settling on the chair method. I balled for quite awhile, but now I am ready. I have a few easy squares to make to catch up.

I believe the granny project will be a bit easier, since it is parsed out weekly, so I added something else to my list. I am going to make a stripe study shawl. I have had the pattern in my queue for quite a while. I decided if I want to make the color affection shawl, I need to get moving on this one. I am using madeline tosh merino light for this project. I had the sense to have it already wound and ready to go. With two projects plus the stagnating two pairs of socks I have on needles, I joined in with Camp Loopy to knit this one. It is run by The Loopy Ewe (another of the online shops, I prefer). I like prizes, camaraderie and a deadline.

With all the fiber work, I still plan to read. I am finishing up Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet , which I am rather liking. I also started The Sense of an Ending. I am not sure how I feel about this one. It may be more enlightened than I am currently, since my reading is rather disjointed and distracted most times. I have about 30 more pages to read. Next week I will let you know.

For all those following along, what are you winding, knitting, crocheting and reading?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

Mulberries have been a wonderful discovery for the kiddos. Eamon and Aine hunt for trees and pick as many as they can reach. They then return to an eager Benton with their bounty. He quickly gobbles them up and the hunt continues.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Home of Independence

Our weekend was finished off with a trip to Philadelphia. Setting off early on Sunday, we encountered quite a bit of traffic and delay. A seemingly quick trip turned into quite a long car ride! When we arrived, we immediately headed to Independence Hall for a tour. The guide was very informative and offered a lot of fun facts about the buildings and the people who later became famous for their actions in the founding of this country. The older two asked quite a few questions which were greeted with enthusiasm (the chandelier is over 300 yrs old, the bins of sand on the floor are spittoons, Marie Antoinette is figured in the painting in the upper house and the guide was unsure about how many pegs were in the Georgian moldings around the room).
After viewing the buildings, we set off for a late afternoon meal. Dave did the research for the trip and discovered that Jim's Steaks was the place to go. Loaded down with lunch, we found some greenscape to sit and enjoy our Philly experience. Everyone devoured their sub running and laughing as they ate. We give it a thumbs up (they even have vegetarian options).
Walking around the historical sites was fantastic for me. Before we left Arizona, I viewed the mini-series John Adams, so I had the early years of our country fresh in my brain. We saw the oldest residential street (Elfreth's Alley), Ben Franklin's gravesite and finally The Liberty Bell.
Tired and a bit cranky after so many weekend adventures, the family piled back into the car. The trip home was much quicker which made for a pleasant end to the day.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekend Wandering

Weekend wandering downtown took us past The White House and around the grounds. The kiddos played in a fountain nearby as little sparrows took turns getting drinks and a bath. We headed to The Mall and the Math Alive exhibit. Several hours were spent playing (literally) with all the exhibits. Learning lots and remembering things we have done in the past. Metro ride home and a dinner out. Topped off with new library books and an evening of stories. How was your weekend?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Journey is an Adventure

This week we headed out to see the Museum of Natural History. We are becoming quite adept at using the metro and walking everywhere. I do hear some complaints, but overall we have adapted to our surroundings well. After exiting the metro station early, we were confronted with busy sidewalks and the smell of lunch wagons. The myriad flavors smelled delicious and caused a few bellies to rumble. As we walked through the lunch seekers, it became clear that a stop along the Mall would be required. We had our lunches, and I thought we could find a spot to eat and people watch.
Our destination quickly became apparent as we stumbled upon the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Gardens. We wandered into the garden and marveled at the large sculptures. We saw one that resembled the sugar cube pyramids that the kiddos had crafted several years ago. Another was entitled Cheval Rouge (Red Horse) and prompted loads of discussion on why it was such named. Abstract art and artist interpretation led the discussion. With lunches in hand, we finally settled around the fountain.

With the sound of the traffic on Constitution buzzing along in the background, we observed people stopping, relaxing, walking past and having animated conversations. Tour groups paused at the fountain with shorts and sleeves rolled up to catch a bit of the sunshine. Many photos were taken. With the mist of the fountain cooling the air, the kiddos turned their attention to the trees. A trio of arborists clad in yellow hard hats and climbing gear was trimming the row of trees surrounding the area. Amid the falling branches, we spotted two men above in the trees. Suspended by ropes, they cut and sawed at the branches. The kiddos were enthralled. While munching sandwiches the sat and watched contentedly. The lush verdant area was awash in downed limbs. Immediately my children saw possibilities. During a break in the action, they asked the person on the ground if they could have a few sticks. Initially confused by the request, he quickly understood and grinned. He picked up the sticks they wanted among the branches. They were so pleased.

With sticks in hand, we set off again. More sculptures were studied and analyzed including the amazing illusionary three dimensional House I. Benton wanted to bang on Graft with his stick, but was dissuaded in time. He was right, though. It probably would have made a loud noise on the metal.
Directly beside the Sculpture Garden was a path full of plantings for butterflies. We didn't observe many butterflies, but we were delighted by the flowers. As we walked along the path, we read signs about butterflies and their habitats. We stopped to smell the fragrant rosemary bush and quickly identified some kale amidst the garden. Pausing to climb on rocks and boulders along Constitution Ave, we listened to the notes of a street musician. His rendition of My Favorite Things from the Sound of Music filled the air as we continued our walk to the museum.
Once inside, oceans, mammals and gems comprised the bulk of the time. We visited dinosaur bones while in California last year, so the kiddos were not as enthused this time. The three attributes of a mammal were reviewed while visiting that hall (fur/hair, mama's milk and special ear bones). Aine was surprised at the size of the walrus, while Benton was impressed by the giraffe. Eamon was just eager to get to the gem and mineral display.
We walked through amazing displays of gems, minerals and rocks. Eamon was delighted. We were able to catch a quick glimpse of the Hope Diamond. Much discussion ensued over value and price tag.
We left the museum after many hours exploring to head home. When relaying the adventures of the day to daddy, the trip to the museum topped the list of cool things to see and do. Attention then turned back to the museum, but the journey there was quite fun.

Friday, May 18, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in a Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.