Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Finished Object: Jeck Socks

My pretties!  Look what I finished last night, now nestled in my annoying azalea plants:


Yes, annoying.  They grow willy-nilly and are this insipid mauve colour.  I want to pull them out and plant something else.  But look again - pretty socks for me!  Don't you love the slip stitch lines?


And here is an artsy-fartsy shot of the toe up:


The Particulars:

Pattern: Jeck (Rav Link for free pattern) by Regina Satta
Yarn: Handmaiden Fine Yarn Casbah Sock (it has cashmere in it!).  I bought this yarn from Loopy Yarns two years ago when I was in Chicago for a conference.  I will be going to the same conference this year - maybe the weather will be cool enough by then for me to wear wool socks again!
Needles: Size 2 Knit Picks circulars and dpns
Would I knit this pattern again? Yes! I was a very easy 2 row repeat - if you are looking for some sock knitting to have in your car or other waiting place where you don't need to look at the pattern all the time, this one is definitely for you. Plus, I just love how the column of slipped stitches travel down the sock.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

In Which Ashley Spoils Me

I am participating in a yarn swap with some friends on Facebook, and my package arrived today - and I have to say that Ashley spoiled me!
Here is the contents of package:


From the top down there is: a Monkey project bag that Ashley sewed herself, some luscious blue fiber to spin, a skein of 50/50 superwash merino and silk sock yarn, a Purdy Easter bunny (that a West-Coaster would truly appreciate!), Roots mints, 2 Coffee Crisp bars (my favourite!), some book/pattern marker post-its, and a Lantern Moon turtle measuring tape.  Thank you!
I have to show you a close up of the Easter bunny - it's a totem pole:


Just look at the expression on the bunny's face - I love it!


For those of you not Canadian, Purdy's is a Canadian chocolate company - I think primarily on the West Coast.  Ashley had no idea I loved Purdy's chocolate!  I think I am going to lobby to have her be my swap partner for every swap.

And lastly, the bag the package all came in - I fogot to take a picture of this the first time around - it's from Roots (an iconic Canadian clothing store - which oddly enough, designed the American Olympic clothes for the last Winter Games).  I plan to use this as a lunch bag.


Thank you, thank you, Ashley!  You completely made my day.  I really hope my downstream partner likes my package as much as I like yours.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Why I Love Reading

The words.  Oh, don't get me wrong - mesmerizing stories, engaging characters, exotic or familiar locals - all of these things play heavily into my desire to read.  However, the one surefire way to get me whipped up (for good or for bad!) is the writer's use of words.  Trust me - I have a degree in Linguistics for a very good reason!

I am currently reading Gail Carriger's 'Heartless' (part of the Parasol Protectorate series), and I was struck by the beautiful words the author uses so effortlessly in the narrative.  I was up to chapter six, and I had to start a list of all the unusual words that rang my word-loving bell.  These are some of the words I came up with:

addlepated       concatenation
flummoxed      pecuniary
frolicsome       transflucuation
licentious        connubial

Isn't it wonderful?  I find myself greatly amused by Carriger's books, and often catch myself reading words and passages aloud because of the flow of the prose.

A friend recently sent me an invitation to join Goodreads, and it has become a heady, time-consuming fascination for me.  You can keep track of all the books you are reading (down to which page you are on), rate the books, write book reviews, keep lists of books you want to read, as well as receive recommendations on what to read next based on your reading history.  I have found so many books that I had wanted to read but had forgotten along the way.  I haven't written many book reviews yet, but I plan to going forward.  I used to really enjoy writing my book reports every Thursday long ago.  If you are on Goodreads, send me a friend invitation so I can see what you are reading as well!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Three Roses






Sunday, May 13, 2012

Me Me at the Beach

Every year for the last few years, with the exception of last year because Piper was too young, we have gone to the beach, either right before the season starts in May, or just after the season ends in September.  We were really looking forward to this trip because the weather forecast was fantastic and it would be Piper's first trip *on* the beach.  Notice I did say on and not to - we were in Rehoboth for a few hours in March the day Willow competed in the State Geography Bee, but we only walked on the boardwalk.

We arrived a little after six o'clock Friday night, after having Piper squawk at us from Dover onwards.   Yeah, that was fun.  I don't think the commute would have been so bad - it's only a little over 90 minutes normally, but we down to a standstill through Wilmington and the Christiana Mall area.  First things first!  We check in, and try to find somewhere not crowded to eat, and were baffled at all the 'No strollers allowed' signs.  We had never seen that before - Andrew wondered if they were trying to limit a certain kind of clientele.  We ended up at Claws, where the first thing I ordered was a very expensive mojito.  $9!!  I had no clue - the cocktail menu didn't have prices on it - I guess that should have been a clue.  Good thing it was strong and tasty!  Piper insisted in having all the lemons and limes from our various beverages - and proceeded to make this face after every piece she bit into and sucked:


We normally try to stay right on the beach, but our original choice of hotel was completely booked (and I later learned that they had no less than 3 weddings there Saturday night).  We ended up staying at the Crosswinds Motel, which was a few blocks up from the boardwalk.  Once I looked a map and saw where it was located, I booked it immediately.  Why?  Look below:


On the left you have the edge of the Crosswinds Motel.  That triangle-shaped building on the right?  That is the Dogfish Head Brew Pub (more on that later!).  It was so nice to have that nearby - it is a place we always eat (drink!) at when we go to Rehoboth, and to not have to walk a few blocks back to the hotel after spending time there was wonderful!  And to add to the wonderful proximity, right across the street - and in fact, right behind me as I took the picture, is Starbucks.

Piper had us up bright and early Saturday morning.  She did wake up twice during the night, but overall I was pleased at how well she slept in her playyard.  I did buy a 5" slab of foam for it because I didn't think it would be comfortable for her otherwise.  We had breakfast at the Robin Hood diner, then headed back to the hotel to gather up all our beach stuff.

Me and Piper in the surf

I didn't have any intention of going in the water, or taking Piper in the water.  Even though the temps were supposed to get up to 80'F, that water is still very frigid.  However, my subversive elder daughter had other ideas:


As soon as Piper saw Willow in the water, she had to be there too - so I spent the next 2 hours holding Piper's hands and running into the surf, and lifting her out of the way when the big waves came.  Neither she nor I was wearing swimsuits, so we were quickly soaked through.  After a while, Piper decided she would rather play in the sand, and she spent her time filling up the buckets and then having me dump them out so she could start again.  Andrew walked back and forth to the trash cans a few times, and Piper insisted on accompanying him each time - she would walk with him, but he always ended up carrying her back.


My blonde beach baby:


Don't worry - she had lots of sunscreen on and after the first hour of playing in the surf, she had her purple sun hat on as well.  The beach was getting more crowded and hot, so we decided to leave around 11:30am to go back to our room and clean up and then go have lunch.  Piper, however, had other plans.


Willow and I parked ourselves on a bench while Andrew went to get Subway sandwiches.  I had nothing to do, so I took pictures of myself.


Not bad - no obvious evidence of what was to happen soon.  Incidentally, what colour would you say my hair is?  Outside I always see the natural red in it, but it just looks dark indoors.

Long-legged Willow


And look at Willow's new Keens! Would you believe we paid $32 for them?  It was in on of the beach stores, and I guess they must have been last year's stock (because they had the more expensive one on the other shelf.  I don't care!  These shoes cost $55 at our local store, and Willow wears them all summer long for summer camp.

We arrived back at the motel, and showered and re-dressed.  Willow says, "Mom, you really burned your shoulder!"  The scary thing is I hadn't felt anything until that point.  I contort myself in the mirror, and sure enough, there is a 12oz steak sized angry red blotch on the back of my right shoulder and shoulder blade.  I'm baffled - I wore 55spf waterpoof sunscreen, was only outside for 2.5 hours, and was back inside before it got really hot.  The weirdest thing is that there are 2 circular blotches within the burn THAT ARE NOT BURNED!  It's like someone put two 2" button sized globs of sunscreen on and left the rest bare.  Aloe gel with lidocaine is my friend right now.

Andrew said he would stay with Piper as she napped, so Willow and I went out walking, and hit another perennial favourite in Rehoboth - Kitschy Stitch!  And as luck (and my good planning) would have it, it is only 3 lots behind the Starbucks I mentioned earlier.


Willow had a long conversation with Ali about the girls in her class, and I bought 2 balls of O-Wool in this lovely green - which is much more apple-y in person - to make another Nichole cardi for Piper:


I also bought this beautiful skein of Malabrigo Rios - although I may end up doing something with it differently than I had originally planned, so I will keep my thoughts mum for now.


I also bought a sweater pattern - for the Contended Cardi (Rav link). Ali had a floor model in the store and it was beautiful. Willow wanted one, and I think this may end up being my project for the Ravelympics.

Afterward Willow and I went to Starbucks and Willow had her first frappucino.

After a three minute brain freeze, she decided she didn't like it.

Later that night, we had dinner at the DogFish Head Brew Pub, and my one beer was a seasonal one called 'Ryehoboth,' made with rye wheat and honey.  It was very tasty!  I would have loved to have more, but needed to have my wits about me for Piper!  Andrew's beer was called 'Namaste,' and it was a summer beer with lemongrass in it.


Willow trying to keep Piper entertained as we waited for our food.  Notice how nothing is within Piper's reach?  That was trial and error!  She was grabbing for everything from the steak knives to my beer!


We ended up having an early night with all of us in bed by 9pm.  The next morning, we checked out of room and parked closer to the boardwalk so we could do something that Willow has wanted to do for the last few years - ride in on one of these contraptions!


She was a little miffed that she couldn't actually do the pedaling - the rule was you had to be 18 to rent, and 16 to pedal.  So she sat in the middle between me and Andrew.  Don't let Piper's woeful face fool you - once we got moving, she was a little speed demon, woo-hooing at everyone and yelling out 'dogdog' to every canine within sight.  I have to say it wasn't easy to ride one of these things!  And I had the dummy steering wheel - Andrew was on the left so he controlled the brakes and steering - but I couldn't help but to try and steer on my dummy wheel when we would go into turns or if my head though we were drifting over too much.

Our weekend in Rehoboth ended with some quick shopping at the Tanger Outlets, and then back home to Wilmington.  I had a wonderful time, despite my odd sunburn, and am really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Finished Object: Piper's Nichole Cardi

Look what I finished last night while watching 'Game of Thrones' last night!


The obligatory 'you can't make me pose' pose.


The Particulars:

Pattern: Nichole Cardi (Rav link)
Yarn: Reynolds Odyssey (now discontinued), 3 balls
Needles: Size 5 and 7 circulars, 16" and 24"
Deviations: I had to make the cardi a little shorter than the pattern called for (by about 2.5 inches) because I was seriously running out of yarn. I had pulled the Reynolds Odyessy out of my stash, and I only had 3 balls (312 yards). I think a fourth ball really was needed to get the sweater to the intended length.
Would I knit this pattern again? Absolutely! This was a test knit for my friend, Sam, and she will be selling this pattern on Ravelry once she has everyone's input on the pattern. It was a very quick knit - I think I would like to make it is a softer, more pliable yarn next time. I think this will make a great layering cardi this coming fall.

Sunday, May 06, 2012


No pictures yet - no point because the plants all are little 6 inch indistinguishable green things right now, but I've planted my tomato plants outside in their containers. 

Our attempts at backyard gardening has been not terribly encouraging - a combination of one neighbour who grows 20 foot bamboo, another who has thorny, creeping roses and morning glory planted along our back fence, and a third who expanded their house and overshadowed part of the remaining sunny spots in our yard.  Oh, don't get me wrong - we have no problems with our bamboo neighbour or house-expansion neighbour - but the morning glory/creeping roses neighbour irks me.  They didn't plant those until we tried growing a vegetable garden at the back of our property.  Now we spend much of our gardening time hacking back these two invasive vines - and add to that the wild geranium that is killing our grass... you get the picture.

Anyway, the only things I have any success at growing are little tomatoes, chives, and basil.  I've tried different types of squash and they die on the vine, cucumbers and they rot, bell peppers that the squirrels pick and eat before I even get a chance to!  My mother-in-law bought me a set of cherry and grapes tomatoes from Burpee's - five different plants, a mixture of red and orange.  And then yesterday I purchased a orange cherry tomato plant called 'Suncherry' at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  They are all in the pots now, and I have great plans for tomato salads in the summer.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

MDSW 2012 Recap

This is one of my favourite weekends of the year. I get to spend 4+ hours in a car, get filthy, eat lots of bad-for-me-food, and have so much fun with my friends. And I haven't even mentioned the yarn yet!

We saw alpacas:


I swear I was just trying to get a profile shot of this guy, when he swung his head around and faced me at the last minute.  He had a beautiful, glossy auburn coat.

Some teeny teeny goats.  There is nothing here to really give you scale, but none of them were higher than my knees.


An even tinier bunny.  Again, I suck for a reference size, but this bunny was about the size of a small cantaloupe melon.


I was able to meet up with some of my friends in my due date group o Ravelry, including Julie (in the orange dress) and Sam (wearing her adorable son).  In the background are Nancy and Cyd, two more people I know from Ravelry groups.  I also was able to meet my friend Pam and meet the beauteous Zoe a little bit later in the afternoon.


I had to take a picture of this sheep - because either he was keeping his eyes shut to ignore the indignity of getting shorn in public, or he was fast asleep.


So, what did I buy?  As always, I'm surprised by what I didn't buy.  There are so many soft and beautiful and colourful things.  I get home, open up my tote bag and wonder how on earth I only came home with this small amount.

I picked up this Merino/Corriedale fiber - it's only 1.5oz, so it won't make a whole lot, but I loved the colours.


Verdant Gryphon Traveller:


Creatively Dyed Voodoo in Zombie:


Creatively Dyed Voodoo in Spirit:


Woolgathering Superfine Merino (4oz):


Handcrafted soaps - the belize one is primarily lemon with some spices added in:


When I got home, Piper promptly decided to try and eat this lemony treat (see the bite marks in the soap):


Adfter meeting all of my friends' beautiful children - Julie, Pam, Cyd, and Sam's daughters and Natalie and Sam's sons - I realized I missed my girls so much.  Not enough to want to bring them to MDSW next year - but enough to smother them with hugs and kisses when I saw them again.

Piper - who literally jumped for joy when she saw me come home:


And my beautiful Willow, getting ready for a birthday party:


(Yeah, I know - I have trouble coming here!)

Thank you to Michelle, Kathy, Julie, Kristin, and Patti for making the trip down this year.  This trip is truly one of the highlights of my year.  Andrew - thank you for taking care of both girls all day so I could spend the day with my friends.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Okay, Sports Fans!


Guess who made an appearance at 'Take Your Child To Work Day' at my my office? Picture courtesy of Willow, who got up close and personal and says he smells like a gym sock...

Thursday, May 03, 2012


P4082248 I'm trying. Really, I am. You know it's bad when my Dad doesn't even hassle me about updating the blog. I must be a lost cause. My life isn't what it was before - don't get me wrong - I have absolutely no regrets with all the changes we have made with another child, but free time definitely has been sacrificed. I know this will change as Piper gets older - but for now, most non-working time gets spent with her... and she doesn't care for Mama typing away on the keyboard and looking at the screen and not her. In the meantime, I am seriously considering hiring a cleaning service - I can't seem to keep on top of that, either. The front room is normally neat, and Andrew keeps on top of the dishes, but everything else looks like a disaster. Anyone have any suggestions/recommendations?

Wednesday, May 02, 2012