Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Flying Solo, By the Seat of My Pants

This past weekend was also Brian's golf trip.  Also, the daycare was closed on Thursday and Friday so we needed to find alternate care for Sean.  My dad took care of him (he prefers me to say "played with" or "spent time with") on Thursday, and I took the day off on Friday.  With the way things have been at work lately (yep....still no new place for this Crafty Mama Manager.  The reasons are complicated and I'm frustrated but dealing with it) I was looking forward to the break.  Even if I was going to be with the boys for 72 hours straight.  I hate thinking of it like that....but if you are a parent you KNOW what I am talking about!

On Friday it was just Sean and I, Will went to school.  Sean was delighted to drop off his Bubby at school, and relished the hugs and attention he got from all the other kids.  We took a trip to Walmart, and he miraculously didn't fight me on riding in the cart, for which I was grateful.  When we got home I managed to break the screen door on the front of the house.  In taking out the recycling, I discovered a yellowjacket's nest in the deck box where we keep our recycling outside.*  Naturally, I screamed and ran back into the house.  (Go ahead and say it:  Wuss!)  When I got inside I realized that I left the damn lid open.  Yay, me.  So I ran outside, slammed it shut and made a beeline (ha HA HA! Witty.)  for the house.  The rest of the day went smoothly, including making a decent dinner and the boys passing out on my bedroom floor.

Saturday was hot as hell.  At least Hubby got the AC unit into the bedroom and muscled into the window before he left, so it wasn't too bad.  Plus I'd bought an inflatable pool for the kids so we could have some water fun.  Well.  First, I had to lug up the air compressor from the basement.  That was no easy feat!  But I accomplished that task and when finished left it in the kitchen, there was no way that I was going to get it back down the stairs.  While filling the pool with air I managed NOT to get stung by yellowjackets, but I did manage to break the back screen door.  If you're keeping score, that's two doors.  (The house kicked my ass, basically.)  The pool was totally worth the $14 that I spent on it, the boys loved it!  It's going to be a great summer for that kind of stuff.  Spaghetti for supper so there was no fighting over "EW!  I don't like that!" Then movies (Spy Kids 4) and bed for them.  Another movie for me, (One for the Money) some more knitting and then bed.  Don't waste your time on One for the Money, by the way.  Spy Kids 4, as much as I hate to say it, was more entertaining.

On Sunday the kiddos let me sleep late!  We were supposed to head to a birthday party, but I flubbed it bigtime and we missed the party, which had been on Saturday.  D'oh!  Luckily the sting of that was minimized by the promise of more pool and sprinkler time.  By the time Daddy rolled in, we were all hungry for dinner and I was a bit exhausted.  Dinner at the 99 for everyone!

All in all, it was a good weekend.  To all my friends out there that do it longer than three days (one friend in the blogosphere recently did two weeks of Mama Only Time) I don't know how you do it!  If I'd had to work, it would've been damn near impossible.  But we had fun, the kids were mostly good and no one went insane.  Mad props to me.  :)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------*Brian took care of the bees in the recycling when he got home.  He said that he's already done it twice this season, said he has a relationship with "Recycling Ron" the bee in the box.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pretty Flower

Throughout the year I knit things for charity and store them in a big Rubbermaid box.  Let's face it, I have more yarn than I could possibly use in a lifetime.  (Insert your joke at my expense here.)  So why not share my love of yarn with others!

This is a little improvised hat that I put together quickly over the weekend.  I love the gray and magenta together, but it needed a little.....something.  A quick perusal of Ravelry patterns for knitted flowers and I found what I was looking for.  Add a few beads and VOILA!  Haute couture toddler-wear.  The best part:  I didn't spend a dime on the materials for this hat.  (Well, not this weekend, anyway.)  The yarns and the beads were all stuff that I had on-hand.  The flower is meant to be worn more on the side than at the front of the hat.

Being the mom of two boys, I adore making girly stuff when I get the chance.  Some little girl is really going to like this.

Decisions, Decisions

The 2012 Summer Olympics are coming up, and I have some things to ponder involving this Day Zero List Item:

16.  Participate in the “Ravelympics” and Go For the GOLD!!!

First of all, I know that you're wondering:  What the heck are the Ravelympics??  They're the Olympics of Knitting, where you challenge yourself knitwise (or crochet wise, if that's your bag) by starting and completing one item during the Olympics.  The huge Cast-On event is during the Opening Ceremonies and your item must be done by the Closing Ceremonies.  Teams that complete the goal are awarded with Ravelry badges for their blogs or Rav page.   I did the "Knitting Olympics" in 2010 thru the Yarn Harlot's website.  I was a relatively new knitter, and just made a zigzag ribbed scarf.  It was a challenge for me, who had never done anything but plain garter stitch, to finish something with a pattern in just two weeks.  But I did it, and with time to spare!  And I still post my blog badge at the bottom of my blog.  :)

The Knitting Olympics isn't as structured as the Ravelympics, with the Knitting Olympics you are just challenging yourself.  The Ravelympics are a little more complex, you have to join a team on Ravelry, and take pictures of your progress and communicate with team members.  I probably meant "Knitting Olympics" when I wrote this item, but there's no changing the list so I will start looking for a team.  Now, I also need to find a project.

I've already decided that whatever the item, it's going to be something for me to keep when finished.  I've already mapped out my Christmas and Birthday gifts for the rest of the year, and I want a little something for me.  So, here's what I am looking at so far and must make a choice:

Marrowstone shawl, pattern by Marcy Vandale

Lady Kina, pattern by Muriela 

Clapotis, pattern by Kate Gilbert

Tough choices!  I love all of these.  Clapotis, one of the most popular patterns on Ravelry, has been in my queue the longest.  I do love the idea of challenging myself to this short-sleeved sweater in two weeks, but I also have to consider that the Ravelypmics are in the middle of summer, and do I really want a huge wool project in my lap?  And I just love the marrowstone shawl.  I've definitely got some thinking to do.  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Citizen Kane

49.  Watch 5 movies from the American Film Institute’s Top 100 list 

1.  Citizen Kane

The description of this movie in the AFI database says "One of the greatest movies ever made."  HAH!  It didn't hold mine or Hubby's interest.  It may have been a great movie back when it was made in 1941, but by today's standards, no.  

Here's what the movie is about:  the main character, Charles Foster Kane, dies in his resplendent home Xanadu,  and his dying word is "Rosebud."  Everyone is clamoring to find out what he meant by "Rosebud," and his newspaper employees run around the whole movie, interviewing everyone in his life, past and present.  His former employees and nemesis, his second ex-wife, etc.  His life was a little intriguing but also sad.  

Unfortunately, all I can really say about the movie is that I was bored.  Except for the part about his second wife's opera career, then I was thinking "Good Lord, that is the worst opera singing EVER.  PLEASE make it stop!"  

1941 was a very different time from today.  If this movie was made today, it wouldn't be winning any prizes, much less Best Picture.  But here's one thing I liked about movies back then:  the simplicity.  The humor wasn't in-your-face or crude.  The dramatics felt real.  Things were left to the imagination, much unlike movies today.  This I enjoyed, the understatedness.  Movies were smarter back then and relied on you, the viewer, to think.

Next movie:  The Godfather.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Jewels at Home

Once in a while I join a swap thru Ravelry.  I especially like a group called "Ten Dollar Swaps" because that is the minimum and maximum that you are expected to spend on your partner's package. It takes some creativity to find yarn and a couple of goodies for just ten bucks (shipping doesn't count) but it can be done!  Also, stash yarn and materials that you have on hand that you didn't have to buy don't count in the total.   Each month has a theme, and this month is "Secret Partner Swap."  That means that while I know where I am sending my package, the person doesn't know who is sending it until they get it. And on the flip side, I have no idea where my package is coming from, or who my partner is.

This month included a handmade item and my partner lives in a hot climate, so I went with the Saroyan Shawl.  I changed it up a bit, making it in sock-weight yarn so it made for a light shawlette instead of a big heavy shawl.  Perfect for when the AC is cranked and you're freezing.  At the movies, for example.  AC at the movies is always cranked to "antarctic."  :)

But the thing that I am most proud of is the handmade stitch markers that I put together.  Purchasing pretty, beaded ones wasn't an option as I know they are much more expensive than ten dollars.  And the more that I looked at some of mine, hanging off the needles in a pair of mittens that I am working on, I said "Hey, I can totally do that!"    A few years ago, when I worked part-time and then only-child Will and I belonged to a playgroup, one of the moms sponsored a jewelry-making class at her home.  I became hooked, and being a whole-hog kind of girl, stopped at Michael's on the way home to purchase tools and more beads and supplies.  I made a few necklaces, bracelets and earrings for holiday gift-giving that year, and was pretty proud of myself.  When it was time to clear out my craft room (sniff sniff!) because I was pregnant with Sean and needed a place for Will to sleep, I packed up my jewelry-making and cross-stitch supplies and banished them to the basement. Finding them was half the fun, the joy of finding such pretties while "shopping in my own home."

This was so easy, and so fun.  I see some more in the future, perhaps as knitter's gifts.  One can ALWAYS use more stitch markers!  (And project bags....some day I'm going to get out my sewing machine and make my own project bags.  Ooh!)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Que Sabrosa, Gracias!

#59:  Eat at a Spanish restaurant and speak no English while there. 

When I'm speaking Spanish at work, native speakers sometimes will compliment me.  "Oh, your Spanish is really good, Virginia!" I know that I understand better than I speak, and sometimes I lack the confidence.  Often I make a joke that I'm really good at "housing Spanish", if it has to do with leases and rent, I'll totally rock it.  But put me in a restaurant and I'd be lost.

Well, I can't make that joke anymore.  Yesterday was a late lunch day, with a to-do list as long as my arm. Finally at almost 2pm I was so hungry I might eat anything. So I grabbed my keys and said to Jose, my maintenance man, "I'm going to Maria's Kitchen for some lunch."  I knew what I wanted to do, but Jose insisted on walking down there with me.  Since work isn't in the greatest of neighborhoods, I acquiesced.  But once we got to the restaurant, as we crossed the threshold I entered a different world.  One that I speak no English.  Before Jose could even order for me, I went to the counter and the lady behind it said hello, what can I get you?  And without much thought, I said "Good afternoon.  Do you have any pernil today?"  "She said that she did, and I said "I'd like that please."  She asked if it was for here.  Now, here's where I ran into my first roadblock, I had no idea how to say "to go"  or "takeaway."    Well, if I was in Spain or Mexico, I'd have to make myself understood, right?  Figure it out, or go hungry.  So I did.  It wasn't perfect:   "I take to the office."  She understood, and I got my to-go box.  She asked if I wanted rice, and I said "Of course, and some beans too."  (Good Lord, how I love rice and beans!!!)  I grabbed a Pepsi from the cooler, and Jose was picking out some ribs.  I told the woman that I'd be picking up whatever he was picking out as well.  She rang up my order, bagged it up and then took my money, and I said "this is for you" and handed her a tip.  Off we go, mission accomplished!

Only when I got outside did Jose tell me....."she asked you if you wanted yellow or white rice, and you just said "yes."  So she took a guess, hope you like white."  Oops.  I didn't hear her say that, it was pretty loud in there.  But look!  I procured food using the Spanish language!

Important lesson:  the language doesn't need to be perfect.  I trip over that a lot.  She got the jist of what I was saying, and I got the food.  With time and practice, it'll get easier.

Next time, I'll get a different food.  Pernil is my favorite and they make a mean one, but I already know how to say it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Post-Webs Aftermath

The tent sale, if to be described in one word, incredible.

Incredible weather.
Incredible friends and family.
Incredible yarn.
Incredible food with said friends and family.
Incredible long lines.  (ah well.)

We got there about half an hour after the sale opened, and MAN was it crowded!  The store was stuffed with people, as was the tent and the warehouse area.  Wow, WOW!  Lots of friendly employees were on hand, asking if they could help you find something.  Inside the store, I spotted a familiar face:  the Webs employee from the "Sh*t Knitters Say" video!  (she's kind of hard to miss, with her gorgeous red hair)  At first I thought that she'd think that I was a huge dork if I said hello, but I went for it.  "Hey, you're the girl from that video!"  She laughed and said "You are the first person to notice!"  I said "really?  I would've thought that I'd have been the fiftieth!  I said that every time I'm buying yarn I hear her voice in my head saying "I'm on a yarn diet."  She laughed again and said "There is no such thing as too much yarn."  Yes!!  No judging from anyone in Webs yesterday....no one would ever say "isn't that kind of a lot of yarn?"  Nope.  A true judgment-free zone.  :)

While in line outside (which was about 45 minutes) a woman approached my mom, SIL and I and said that some of the people behind us had recommended us for the video that they were making to promote the store.  Turns out a couple of my friends said "no thank you" to being included but "see that woman in purple up there? She'd LOVE to be a part of it."  We were good sports, and the video is going to be on their Facebook page.  If our part is in it, I hope we don't look too silly.  :)

After all that wild shopping, we settled on Amherst Brewery for something to eat.  It was about 8 miles away, not far from the UMASS Amherst campus.  The food was soooooooooo good.  Second best nachos that I have ever had.  (The first is nachos at Brick Alley Pub in Newport RI, with my Salve girlfriends)  After that it was time to head home, and it was a  pretty ride, through bits of western MA down to the Mass Pike.  All in all, a really, really great day.

So what did I bring home?  I brought home a LOT.  I went with a very detailed list and the decision to only shop for projects that I already have queued.  This pile contains every baby gift, and ALL Christmas gifts, not to mention a sweater for Hubby and a sweater for me.  I'm pretty happy with it.

Finally, here are (some of) the Hook and Needlers, and Friends!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Yarn, Yarn, YARN!

I like to knit.  But I think that I like yarn even more than knitting. 

Sounds weird, yes?  Well then, here's another one.  My house is brimming with yarn stash.  I have filled both of my usual stash containment areas:  a big rubbermaid bin in the bedroom closet and in three smaller storage units under the desk in the office.  So why, may I ask, am I going to the Tent Sale at Webs tomorrow with a four page shopping list???

Simple.  You can never have too much of a good thing.  OK, more complicated:  yarn is my thing.  It makes me happy, surrounded by its squishiness and hopeful creativity.  "Hmmmmm, I'm a skein of Malabrigo...what could I be??"  Plus, the shopping list is in a tiny notebook that goes in my purse, a couple of words and the page is filled.  Some people are happiest collecting Hummels, or scrapbooking, or golfing.  Me?  I knit.  And peruse yarn.  And buy buckets o' yarn, too. 

I look forward to the tent sale every year for other reasons, too.  It's a day to spend with my friends and family.  My mom goes with us, as does my sister-in-law.  Many of my friends from my local knitting group, the Hook and Needlers, go on this trip.  My friend Maureen from college is even making the trip from Maine to the Yarn Mecca with us tomorrow, AND bringing a friend.  (In all fairness, her mom lives near the yarn shop, and she's going to visit her too.) It's a Saturday to hang with people that have common interests, and lunch and all things knitting/crochet.

So tomorrow night you'll find me tuckered out from wandering around Northampton, with a big tote of yarn, with a smile on my face.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

No Time!!

I got an email at work last week about an upcoming Manager's meeting.  My job has these from time to time, all-day trainings for their manager's on a variety of topics.  Me?  I'm ridiculously busy, and was going to try to opt out, especially since the main focus was a Time Management Seminar.  Plus, even though it was a half-day meeting instead of the full-day, it's always a full-day for me between the distance to drive and the mind-rotting traffic from anywhere in Central MA to anywhere in eastern MA. BUT there was something else important to be covered too so I sighed and put it on my calendar.

Was I glad that I did.....it ended up being a pretty good training.  For one thing, I can certainly get comfy with a trainer that calls his program:  "Time Management:  The Seminar I don't have Time For."  Yes, that's about right.  Throughout the training I was in awe over how many things related to my everyday life.  It turns out, my "time management" is an absolute train wreck.  Distractions?  Yes.  Time suckage?  Yep, Yep.  Overwhelming burnout as to what to start first?  Oh my, yes.  Disorganization killing your productivity?  Cripes, did this guy follow me around for a day or two??  Tips were offered to battle all of these things.  I only hope that I can implement some of them.

One thing that we touched upon was the statement that he made that we are all slaves to email.  That little "DING! you've got new email" sends a lot of people running to see what's come up.  it's a distraction for sure.  And the amount of email.....ugh.  My work account alone has over 200 messages sitting in the inbox right now. And that's down from the 500 that I had pared it down from recently.  All of them are open, and just sitting there.  And I can't seem to find the time to go through and save or delete!  My "file pile" at work.....it should be more aptly named "mess pile."  I leave my desk in shambles every night as I walk out the door, usually running behind in picking up one of the kids.  I have no preparation for the next day, personally or professionally.  No wonder I'm flopping like a fish out of water.

This was a big eye opener.  Today, when I get to work after housing court, I'm going to sit down and start implementing some changes.  It's high time to determine what's important and needs to be done and what just isn't worth worrying about.  It's time to slowly get organized and be ruthless with piles at the office and clutter at home.  Free myself of the clutter both physically and mentally, so I can focus on the things that need to get done and spending more quality time with family and friends.  It's going to be a long road, but I feel prepared for the journey.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

A fantastic Mother's Day celebration in my life the past two days...last night my family came over and Mom baked a lasagna here at the house.   We got to linger over dessert (mini pastries and coffee) and I got lots of snuggle time with my niece.  (who is six months old today....does time fly or what!!)

Today started with a fabulous waffle breakfast at home, and a gift from the kids--they are sending me to a class at Webs to learn how to steek!   (Steeking....a way of cutting your knitting to make an opening for a sleeve or head, etc.  Just the very idea of cutting my knitting intimidates the heck out of me!)  Then at Hubby's suggestion, the four of us plus my mom headed to New Hampshire to go to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival!  Heaven for mom and me.  Brian walked and entertained the kiddos while Mom and I perused yarn and pet alpacas.  (The boys loved the alpacas, and "baa-ing" back at the sheep.)  We got to eat super-delicious Fair food (sausage sandwiches, ice cream, etc)  I came home with some delightful sock yarn to try my hand at socks for both Hubby and I (third time's the charm, right?)  and Mom treated me to some gorgeous cornflower blue wool-cashmere blend that I am going to turn into a shawl for myself.  All in all, a very delightful day.  I am so lucky to have such a great family.

Happy First Mother's Day to my SIL.  Happy "First" Mother's Day to my friends out there that are expecting babies later this year.  And Happy Mother's Day to ALL Moms, past present and future!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hats Off

Just one of those random "Grab the Camera!" for a few candid shots.

If Will tells Sean to put on a hat, he puts on the hat!  I've been trying to get him to wear this hat for some time now...and now it's going to be too small pretty soon.  They are pretty cute, huh?  Will's hat is a hand-me-down from Papa.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


We have bind-off, folks!  The sweater body has been completed.

I LOVE how this is coming out.  The waist shaping is just great, and the ribbing is beautiful.  What's left:  sleeves, ribbing at the collar, then button bands.  And then selecting buttons for this beauty.  I can hardly wait!

Also, here's a peek at a cabled baby hat that I improvised by myself.  That's right....look Ma, no pattern!  I used.....math!  It came out so cute.  One of these days I'll write down the rows from inside my head and share nicely with others.  :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ten Years, One Place

It takes time to get settled and grow in one place.  When Hubby and I were at the beginning of our relationship, the months of May and November seemed to always bring changes.  For the first years, one of those months would roll around and one of us was either getting a new job, or we were moving.  There was more of the latter than the former.  After our wedding, we rented our first apartment in Norwood, MA.  (in a November)  We loved having our own space and being able to decorate it ourselves, coming home to "our place."  And we swore that there wouldn't be any roommates, unless we gave birth to them.  :)

A year into renting the apartment, we discovered that we really hated putting up so much money per month for something that we didn't own.  So with a dream forming in our minds and NO experience in house-shopping, we set forth, full steam ahead.  We ended up choosing a house forty miles away from the apartment, closer to Hubby's work and much, much further from mine.  I was apprehensive moving so far away but Hubby affirmed that it would be great.  Once we made the decision things moved rather quickly, with home inspections, booking a moving company and settling into our new humble abode.  (In the month of May, nonetheless.)  Before the boxes were even unpacked, we made a promise:  "Ten years, one place."  No more moving around, let's settle down and get comfortable.

Today marks the tenth anniversary of moving into our home.  Home ownership hasn't always been the easiest thing, but it was a good decision.  Even if it was a little bit by-the-seat-of-our-pants.  We've learned lots of things, like what to do when the previous owner leaves you with no oil in the tank and it's cold for May.  Not to mention that the oil also fuels the hot water system, can you live without hot water for three days while moving into your house??  We've changed every room in this house, and spent thousands of dollars at Home Depot.  We've discovered the joys of needing a snowblower AND a lawnmower within a week's time of each other.  We've learned that you have to be careful what kind of flowers you put in your flowerboxes in full sun, the importance of properly insulating your home, and how you deal with pesky critters like mice and carpet beetles.  We've been chagrined with having to fix mistakes like bathtub faucets shooting off and watching my brother the plumber SMASH a toilet with a sledgehammer because it was glued to the floor.  We've dealt with having to repair anything that the previous owner "updated" because they must've been asleep when they were working, due to the fact that anything he did wasn't level, plumb or square. 

We've had so many happy memories in this home.  Getting a dog.  Gutting a kitchen.  Bringing both of our babies from the hospital.  So many great things in the last ten years!  And we've kept our promise:  ten years in one place.  We just started thinking about our next place.  Hopefully that will be more like 20 or 30 years. 

Happy Anniversary, little cottage house.  :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wednesday Rundown

1.  Also known as Work in Progress Wednesday" for knitters or "Wordless Wednesday" for bloggers.  No wordless (photos) for today, but for WIP Wednesday, perhaps today will also be "Bind-off Day" for the body of my Spring cardigan.  I am also working on improvising a pattern for a cabled baby hat.  When you've made almost a hundred baby hats for charity, you tend to get a little bored with the same pattern. 

2.  Wednesday is also Knit Night in my house.  After work I get to drive straight to the local Panera and have dinner with my friends and knit for two hours.  It's a real refresher, and totally needed today.

3.  Sadly, still not at the new building.  I'm feeling particularly blue over this.  But the whole thing is out of my hands, until there is the official "OK, you have permission to move people in!" Still.  It's been two years and I know that in the grand scheme of things a few more days is no big deal.  But right now, that might as well be eternity.

4.  The boys have kept me wildly entertained the past few days.  Will enjoyed looking at pictures with me on Ravelry the other day, I was showing him some of the things that I want to make people in our family for Christmas.  Every comment was something like "Ooh!  If you make that a little smaller I could wear it."  "Oh, Mommy!  I love those socks.  Can you make me a pair?"  His appreciation of my craft both cracks me up and makes me swell with pride. 

5.  Sean's come up with a few great one-liners in the last week too.  He's starting to be a regular comedian....

-Will and I were talking about young and old and Sean kept yelling "I'm young!"  But it sounds a lot like he was saying "I yunk!  I yunk!) 

-This morning, as we were getting ready to leave (late, as always) he knocked over two photos and a few books by the front door.  In frustration I said "Seanie, do you have to destroy everything in your path?"  He looked at me and smiled and said "uh......yup!" 

He's also becoming very affectionate. He loves to run up to me and practically knock me over and kiss me.  It's incredibly sweet. 

6.  This week has been all about too little sleep and not enough coffee.  Either we're going to bed late, or both of us are tossing and turning.  Last night, we awoke to Sean sobbing in the living room.  Nightmare, I think. Brian walked him back after some soothing time and he was grateful to see his bed.  Thank goodness we at least got to go back to sleep.  Hoping tonight's much better.

Well, that's the gist of today.  Happy Hump Day, everyone.