Friday, June 29, 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.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

For the Love of Bulky Yarn

I would have gorgeous socks to show you this week if I had not heard the siren's call of my stash. Last week I went through the yarn I brought with me in the hopes of finding a skein or two to use for the Stephen West Mystery Shawl Along. I decided to use a gorgeous skein of Twist and Twine from Camilla. Her yarn is so pretty, and I think it will be perfect paired with a charcoal for this shawl. After deciding on that project's yarn, I set about putting the yarn away. As I reshuffled my piles, I noticed a huge ball of Quince and Company Puffin, which was all that remained of my Oatmeal Pullover. I frogged this sweater severals months ago, because I did not love it. I wore it a few times and just didn't really like the fit. It was very unflattering for my body type with such bulky yarn. I decided then and there it was time to resurrect that yarn.

With the one huge ball and two smaller sleeve sized balls, I cast on for a Modern Garden Cardigan on Saturday night. The sweater flew off the needles. By Monday night I only had a few more rows to knit on the collar. As of yesterday morning, all was done. I even wove in all the ends. Now to find just the right buttons for this sweater and give it a good blocking. Amazing - Three days! And the sweater? I love it. The fit is perfect. Dave commented that it looks much better than the other sweater. The ingenious pattern utilizes shaping within the design elements, and it works so well. (I would have a modeled shot, but we stayed at the park Tuesday until well after 8pm. By the time the kiddos and I arrived home we did not have time for a photoshoot).
In addition to my new sweater, I did knit more on my mystery shawl. I ran out of yarn and had to buy a mini-skein to carry me through to the end. I am eager to receive the final clue this week and block it. I have been thinking of giving it to one of my aunts. I think she would appreciate the gift. I also began the heel on the socks. It is a new one for me since the socks are toe up with a gusset heel. These are great for park or out of the house knitting as they are very portable. I am planning to cast-on another sweater this week as well. The summer seems to be my sweater knitting time. I knit several last year during these warm months and hope to repeat the feat this year.

With so much knitting, reading has been slow. I was able to listen to part of my audiobook on my trip to the yarn store, and I catch a few pages of my print copy before falling asleep each night. Hopefully next week I have a bit more to share on that front.

As on every Wednesday I am joining Ginny for our weekly Yarn Along. I love checking out everyone's projects, and I hope you do too.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pass the Days

Our weekend was full of:
* metro travel to see my Aunt and Uncle as well as their daughter, my cousin, and her family
* deciding it is almost as cool to sit in the last car as it is too sit in the first
* dining near my cousin's home on yummy antipasto and pizza while crammed around a small table in the corner with 11 people. The laughter was contagious
*singing so loudly as we played this song again and again (someone yesterday mentioned the video. you should watch it, because it is quite cool. also this one).
* laughing at our musical abilities or lack thereof
* getting lost again and again at the Loray Garden Maze
* laughing even more despite the warm day and the confusion
* finding our way out and gathering all four clues
* returning the quarter which was collected from the fountain by eager little four year old hands
* marveling at the wonders 160 feet below the earth
* wishing you could capture the beauty of the caverns and the still, mirror-like effect of the subterranean lake
* panning for rocks and minerals at the museum
* graciously receiving a forged bird hanger from the blacksmith on duty to use in our yard
* watching a movie together based on a convincing recommendation from a small friend (thanks, Grace)
* relaxing together after much busy-ness in the last few weeks
* a solo bus trip to the yarn store in hopes of finding a bit more yarn to finish a mysterious shawl
* happily finding a mini skein in just the right color way and hoping it is enough
* retrieving a couple items from Target along the way
* walking home while enjoying an audiobook and the solitude
* chatting with two of the grandparents
* enjoying a delicious dinner made by Dave featuring green beans, avocado salad and salmon - yum!
* reading stacks of books
* making plans and preparing for the week ahead

Friday, June 22, 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.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Switching Gradually from Purple

A new project is in my hands this week. To be truthful it is actually a project I started in April and had planned to knit on our car trip east. The socks have been sitting neglected in a project bag in the corner. I picked them back up when I finished the purple pair of socks (which was right after the purple shawl).    These have quite a bit of purple in them too, but I think it may be balanced out by the green and yellow.  Apparently I have been on a purple yarn jag. The pattern is The Crazy Monkeys, and I am using Yarn Love Scarlett O'Hara in the Affection colorway. It is an easy pattern to memorize, and I am almost to the heel. I am trying a little trick my friend taught me of breaking the knitting into workable segments. My goal is to knit three repeats each day. This means I will have them finished by next week (I am an eternally optimistic knitter, although some may say delusional).

The other projects I mentioned last week are caught up. The Mystery Shawl is progressing nicely(the red shawl from last week). I updated my project page with a current photo. I have finished clue #3 and am waiting for the next one to be posted this Friday. It is a really fast knit. This may be because I am eager to see how the lace develops with each clue. The granny square sampler project is also up to date. I will work on the current clue today or tomorrow. I am starting to become fairly quick with the squares now, which is very exciting.

For my reading, I finished Stolen this weekend. Despite my initial hesitation with the book, I decided to just read it. I am glad I did. It was a compelling read. As I read, I worried that it would turn into some type of love story. The author did not do this and addressed many of my concerns in the end discussing Stockholm Syndrome and the kidnapping. I am still listening to Death Comes to Pemberley and have started The Butterfly Cabinet. I have not gotten far enough in either to give an honest opinion.

So, all you Yarn-Alongers, do you ever find yourself knitting certain colors in a series or maybe certain pattern types? Do tell.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Park Essentials

Containers - essential for specimen collecting (these are tadpoles)
 Rope - Essential for swinging and climbing
Sticks - essential for making a walking cane, hitting trunks and fences to make noise, building ramps and using as levers
 Pokemon cards - essential for teaching new friends your favorite game
Shovels and pails - essential for digging, making castles, and carrying water
Water and lots and lots of snacks

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day Tripping

Weekends have been all about the journey since we arrived in D.C. We spend them often on the road exploring the area and all it has to offer. This weekend was no exception. Our travels over the past two days took us to Pointe Lookout, MD and Charlottesville, VA.

Like many of you, Saturday started to get away from us. We planned to head to Monticello, but before we realized it, the clock had slipped to early afternoon. After a quick mental scrambling for Dave and me, a trip to the Chesapeake Bay was planned. We piled into the car and headed to Maryland. Bellies were empty when we arrived, so we stopped at Courtney's Restaurant. This basic mom and pop establishment fit the bill and filled our stomachs. We feasted on soft-shell crab as well as seafood soup. It also provided a chance to get near the water. The kiddos ran along the dock finding fish bones, shells and even jellyfish. The jellyfish were an amazing find as we did not know they would inhabit the waters.
With a taste of adventure and water, we headed to the state park. Dave was eager to visit the lighthouse as were the kiddos. As we drove, the kiddos assessed the shoreline. There were many people fishing from the rocky beaches. We discovered that the lighthouse is only open once a month. Disappointed, we headed to a more sandy beach area. The kiddos build sand sculptures and skipped stones. Eamon scurried out of the water when he noticed a large saucer sized jelly swimming near his toes. It was a bit comical to see him move so fast! While the kiddos played, Dave checked out the nearby fort. When he came back to us, we decided to pack it in and grab a bit of ice cream on the way home. 
With the realization that we needed to move faster in the morning, we approached Sunday a bit differently. We packed up earlier and made it to Monticello after a drive through beautiful country. While Dave bought our tour tickets, we munched on lunch courtesy of Trader Joe's (I find it quite easy to stop there and pick up "snackies" that will easily fill my crew with somewhat nutritious food). We didn't have a lot of time to spend in this area before heading up the mountain to the main house and grounds. The house was much smaller than I thought it would be. Our tour guide mentioned that many people make the same comment. The interior of the house was impressive in its simplicity and adherence to Jefferson's life. The focus was definitely scholarly with many books, maps and artifacts gracing the walls and shelves. The kiddos were full of questions for our guide who answered as best she could (we were unable to take the family tour as it had sold out). 
After touring the house, we walked a bit on the grounds. The kiddos worked on quill writing, reading and code breaking while Dave and I read the signage on the sides of the house. Two other tours were part of our admission, so we eagerly attended those as well. The Slavery at Monticello tour was led by an engaging guide. She told us quite a bit about how the plantation was managed as well as background on Sally Hemings and her family. It really brought the visit and the enormity of slave life into more clarity. When Jefferson died, he owned hundreds of slaves. It is so hard to comprehend this fact. Our family split for the next tour. Eamon wanted to go on the Garden Tour while Dave wanted to see the gravesite. I accompanied Eamon with Benton and Aine went with Dave. The tour was quite interesting. Our guide was a bit quieter yet very passionate about the plant life. I especially loved the 1,000 foot experimental garden. How I would love that!
After the tours, we walked around a bit more. Finally the grounds were closing, so we walked back to the main admission buildings. A quick driving trip through Charlottesville put us back on the road home. No ice cream this time, but plenty more "snackies" in the car as we drove back home.

(All photos by Dave or Aine. I passed off the camera this time out).

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Eight Pounds

Yesterday we had all things blueberry on the mind. The succulent berries are ripe here, so we set off for Eagletree Farms in Leesburg, VA for some berry picking. We went with several homeschooling friends, which was such a nice treat. The weather was beautiful when we arrived. Huge clouds peppered the sky, and the sun was shining. With a cool breeze the kiddos scattered throughout the rows swinging sand buckets as they went. They were determined to fill their buckets. Benton stayed closer to me, and we worked together picking both the top and bottom of bushes to fill his bucket. Eamon returned after a bit with an almost full bucket. Aine soon abandoned hers to run around with friends.

We kept picking until the bellies startled to rumble and the complaints of being warm and tired became too much. Retreating to the shade near a pond on the property we ate lunch. The kiddos played games, threw rocks into the pond and had a blast. I returned to pick a few more berries for another mom as the kiddos pulled each other in wagons up and down the rows while others ran around the property. No one wanted to leave, but leave we had to.

As I packed up our eight pounds of berries, stowed our lunch and buckets in the car and buckled Benton into his seat, Aine continued climbing and running around with a couple of the kids. I was startled from my work and chatting by her screams. She was running toward me. She had been stung by a bee. With much crying due to the pain, we said our goodbyes to our friends.

The drive home was long due to a bit of traffic. Benton fell asleep. Aine's lip began to feel better, but she continued to marvel at the fact that she had not been antagonizing the bee and it still stung her. We finished listening to The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling and quickly moved on to the second in the series, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book II: The Hidden Gallery. Everyone awake in the car really enjoys the story about the three incorrigibles. As we sat in traffic at one point, I noticed the flowers in the median. I grabbed my camera and took a photo. Such beauty to end a wonder filled day.

Friday, June 15, 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.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


While writing our latest bunch of postcards, I noticed a few comments about the rain. Our family is very unaccustomed to this meteorological event! This week it was overcast and raining on our usual park day. Undeterred we travelled to the park anyway. Amid the light showers and harder rainfall, the kiddos played. We were the only ones playing at the park, so they enjoyed unfettered access to everything. The skating area was free, so they slid down the ramps without having to leave so skateboarders could use them. They built traps in the sand, marking the covered holes with a large "X" and laughing when they lured their mother onto a trap (don't worry the traps were dismantled before we left). Swinging, running, jumping in puddles and playing hard were all part of our own private park day in the rain.