Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Gifts

Now that the gifts have been given and received, I can post a few photos of what I made this year (and didn't!)
Tea towels or finger towels for my mom. These were made from the Elsbeth Lavold Linen in sage. I got the pattern from Knit Wits, a store in Northern Kentucky. There were fast and fun but I should have included a note, I don't think my mom knew what they were when she opened them!

This is a simple 1x1 rib scarf made from glorious hand painted cotton. Super soft but the pattern didn't deserve the yarn. But, I had bought the yarn from a store in Half Moon Bay, Ca and the store went out of business around 8 years ago, so I figured I should just make something with it.

Notice anything? I like to travel and go to yarn stores. It brought me peace this summer. I took an hour to myself when my husband was in the hospital and found a knitting store in Pittsburgh. They had every color of Cascade 220 on the walls, over 100 colors of the same yarn waiting for you to do something with it. It felt good just to be surrounded by possibility.

And now, the impossibility: I made a mitten with camel toe! Learn from my mistakes this winter!

1. Don't think that Elizabeth Zimmermann, the Grandmother of knitting, was wrong when she said to pull the yarn through the top stitches on your mitten. I decided grafting would be better, like the toe of a sock, I ended up with the toe of a camel. I fixed the top but the mitten is still too narrow, unless you know someone with small, long hands-this is going to be ripped out.

2. If the shawl in the picture looks like it will be too long of a triangle and you knit it and it's too long, that's probably your fault. This kills me and I can't decide what to do. I started knitting this as a wedding shawl for Maria (last July). It's not turning out right and I hate working on it. Should I press on and finish it, even if I don't like how it's turning out-too pointy??!! Or, rip it out and make something else, a better wedding shawl? I have lovely memories of starting it in Tuscany and still trying to finish it the day of the wedding. I'm thinking they'll just be memories.

3. The last lesson: It won't save you time to wash your black, red and white fabric for a baby quilt with your dirty clothes. Yes, you should be impressed I even pre-washed, but now I need to find the time to go back to the fabric store and buy new fabric as my newly washed fabric is stained all over.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Renting Sounds Good

Less than a year ago, a guy called to offer us a limited time offer on insurance for all our major appliances. We could try it free for a month. We don't need it, I told him. When we bought the house, it came with all new appliances, except the hot water heater. Everything else was less than 2 years old. A few days later, the hot water heater broke.
A few months ago, I noticed frost in my fridge. $600 later, we have a very expensive favorite seat for Baby E (it's chocolate cake on her dress, but that's another story). Apparently, there is a part in this brand fridge that breaks so often the repair guy thinks it should be recalled-he carries back up parts in his van. Still, $600 bucks.
Tonight, the dishwasher didn't drain. Ty took off the bottom to investigate and everyone came over for a look (don't throw stones, I'll bet under your dishwasher isn't sanitary either, plus, he vacuumed after this picture.) Let's hope we don't have to spend our Christmas money on a new dishwasher, I was hoping to buy the Addi Click system!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Family for the Holidays

We (I) had my family come for a visit for the holidays-my sister and her 9 year old son. We had a wonderful visit, complete with 2 feet of falling snow. For the visiting Floridians, this was mostly a treat, except they had no warm clothes. My sister and I shared my awesome new Keen Betty Boots-we took turns going outside. We did manage to go out and get to the Flying Heritage Museum and bowling. I made this spare, with a baby on my hip (a new event in the Mom Olympics

We entertained the kids inside with mostly sugary treats, which was closely followed by taking snow walks. We made a ginger bread house and Merry Mints, a treat my mom used to make with us!

Merry Mint Recipe:
1/3 c lite corn syrup
1/4 c butter-soft
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 oz powdered sugar
Combine first four ingredients until well mixed, stir in sugar, then knead until smooth. Separate dough if adding food colorings. Roll out between wax paper 1/4 inch thick and cut out shapes with cookie cutter or old jars. Place on wax paper to dry overnight. Dip or drizzle with melted chocolate and chill. Enjoy!

I love giving presents. I keep a notebook of my Nice List (very Martha, I know, but my mom did it and I used to think it was crazy but it's a great idea-you don't buy the same thing and I write ideas for people all year long). Getting hit by a snowstorm didn't stress us out. We have enough in our pantry to last us several months, plus I always have ingredients for some kind of baked good-cookie, muffin, bread, chocolate covered pretzels. We had our shopping done way early and had most of the wrapping done, we were able to enjoy the snow and enjoy the visit! (Incidentally, it's fun when your Aunt gives you a new sugary drink-Sprite, but she probably won't get it back!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I have a mantra for the holidays-remember this is supposed to be fun. Somehow, I have a talent for instant grouchiness. I had excuses before, but since I'm no longer pregnant or have a newborn or dealing with cancer, I'm begining to think I just might be crazy or very grouchy.

Still, with 2 and a half feet of snow, we've been having fun and finding enough to do. We had my sister and nephew come and visit, got some cabin fever (hence a recycled castle, the Knight was eating "Christmas cereal," according to B.)

We had our Christmas morning and opened presents early. Is it possible to get a photo of two kids under 4 to stand still for one second and look good in a photo?

Here is Butters saying, "I'm done taking pictures now."
Here is Baby E saying, "Duh?" She can clearly say Mama, DaDa, BAbee and Uh Oh. She shakes her head yes and no and says the syllables for Thank you and Angus and Levi. She's got a great personality and is tons of fun. Even at 3 in the morning.
Back to watching, White Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Before I forget, I need to write story down. Butters was talking to me about babies, he asked me where they come out from, I try to be honest, so here's how it all unfolded:

We were looking the blue blanket I made for him.

B: Did you make this when I was a baby?
Me: I made it before you were even born, when you were still growing inside of me.
B: How do the babies get out?
M: The mom delivers the baby and the baby is born.
B: Where does the baby come out from?
M: (long pause) the baby comes out of the mom's vagina
B: Then does the baby come out of your pants?


We've been busy getting ready for Santa and the holidaze!
Be like Brother
Not like Sis
Enjoy the holidays
Don't be piss(ed)
Butters was amazed, he hung on his every word. It was adorable, Santa liked his shirt, "It's a Santa Booby trap!"
We are mostly on the mend from sickness but still crazy with the thoughts of presents, visitors and traveling. For the crafters out there now is the time to fish or cut bait. Mittens? Mostly done. Hat, just started. Blanket, maybe next year!
I finished up my holiday shopping at a local women owned toy store-Rowdy Rascals. The prices were higher than amazon, but I supported a local business and she wrapped my gifts and carried them to my car since I had my hands full with the baby, you don't get that on line or from toys r us. I bought some amazing, responsible toys. We have a lot of plastic crap, so I'm trying to cut back and have better, fewer toys.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Home Sick

We've been wiping runny noses and dealing with sleepless nights around here. Last night I laid awake for hours, I just couldn't fall asleep. I couldn't blame a hungry or crying child or even growing pains. Just me. Awake. I listened for more rats in our attic, let the dog out at 2 am and I tried drinking milk. Tonight, I plan to stay up late so I'm super tired and will fall asleep no problem.

I've been crafting up a storm, and it looks like a storm hit my craft room. Here's a sneak peak. I've also got startitis since I finished a number of projects. Started a hat and getting ready to put another pair of socks on the needle.

Baby E leans back like she's doing a limbo, it's the funniest thing but not quite captured on film. You have some come and see it! She also gives her baby a bath, loves peek a boo and reads the book Ready, Set, Go!

The Boy has been less than a joy lately (here he is with make up on his face). Testing me/us daily, pestering sister. I was threatening to email Santa before 8 am the other morning, just to give you an idea! I've been at the end of my rope some days. Three and a half is supposed to be a tough time for them, possibly the hardest yet, until puberty. I think the holidays add a level of craziness to everything also. He's great when we go out, but with the sickness, we've been home. And I'm climbing the walls! Luckily, there is Christmas knitting to keep me busy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


One of my favorite things is this jar-an old peanut butter jar filled with candles. When I was a kid, my mom had candle jars, usually a few purple smuckers jelly jars. When you see one, you know there's going to be something good-birthdays mean cake! When I got my first 1 candle for Butters, I knew exactly where I'd store it for when he would turn 11, and the second one would turn 1 and when I'd be 41!

I'm thankful for birthdays, this year's and next! And that all of us will keep having more of them. And that's why, I've decided that if you give me a present wrapped in Christmas paper this year, I won't get mad, I'll just be happy to have a birthday (and a present, like yarn).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Books and More

I've been crossing books off my list like crazy recently. Just finished the bottom two in this photo (My Year of Meats by Ozeki and The Ten Year Nap by Wolitzer) both highly recommended. One more chapter in How to Make an American Quilt, which makes me want to put out the quilt my grandmother made. The other ones are fluff, inspiration and something to make me think and get me through the holiday weekend.

We made a pie this weekend, had an amazing family hike where Baby E walked at least half of it (a mile or so), we helped the economy with some Cmas shopping, paid some bills, cleaned a bit and now Butters is sick with a fever but nothing else. Recently, Butters like to say, "Guess what," and make a face, here's one of many!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Too Big

Okay, Mom, just admit that the jacket you made for me is too big and I promise to wear it next year!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Half Birthday

When the economy has got you down and the news is depressing and it rains all day and you keep getting more medical bills, find an excuse to have a party and have fun! Butters' half birthday, in 6 months he'll be four. We made half a cake and I even let go of my control issues and let him ice it himself, well... the top... then I smoothed it out, but he did the sprinkles!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Make Everyone Happy

Here's a way to make everyone happy. Updates on the kids and knitting finished projects, all married together.
I finished a pair of socks. This makes FIVE for this year, if you count toddler socks and a pair worked on size 8s! I've already started a new years knitting resolution list-steeks, more lace and modular knitting. You'll notice my stripes don't match as I couldn't figure out where the middle of this yarn was and I just started knitting. At cast on, I didn't care if it matched, I feel a little differently about that now.

Butters story: the valley by our river, where we usually see cows grazing, flooded. It's an organic dairy farm. We walked the river and I showed Butters the flooded valley and he said he thought maybe the cows could drink all the water. The city finished building a bridge at the end of our street that connects to the river trail. In the warm weather we'd walk it a few times a week. At least 2 sometimes 3 miles. If it's not raining, we walk once a week now. Today, he asked me why the sun goes down, where does it go, and could I go and get it and keep it from going down? I told him I didn't have the power to stop the rotation of the earth. He also commented that he can't see himself growing. Those are some powerful observations!
The Dog is 95 lbs, there I told you. I feel awful about it, last year he was about 25 lbs lighter, but I haven't been getting out with him as much, and he eats(ate) too many left overs. No more. I don't need another obese animal. Luna is a 25 lb cat, that's enough animal to go around. This crazy red thing is a cat bed I made from yarn I cut from fleece. I cut one long strand from about 2 yards for fabric and knitted it together using size 35s, which are super big. So big it hurts to knit so I only did a few rows at a time. This was forgotten for a many months and I just finished it off. I'm clearing house.
I'm on a self imposed craft diet, but that didn't stop my friend from sending me yarn in the mail! Happiness is found in a cardboard box! That's Manos, direct from Uruguay, it retails for $12 a skein here, but I'm thinking my friend paid less for it at the source.

The Bog Jacket is done for E, all I had to do was add the buttons. She'll be able to fit this for probably 2 years, the arm length will last for 4 years! I added wAAAAy too many stitches. She's been crabby lately, but all was revealed-4 molars coming in at the same time. After they are through, she'll have 10 teeth. She chatters up a storm: Uhh oooh when she drops something and be be for her baby doll. She kisses people and dolls and dogs and friends all the time. She even makes the sounds, we love it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Family Update

We are done! Ty has finished his radiation-24 total treatments over 5 1/2 weeks. We've had Grandpa helping us-we couldn't have done it without him. It is very difficult to watch your loved one be in pain and tired and I give a big thumbs up to all the survivor spouses and care takers out there.

I find that we are enjoying life more and not taking it for granted, but at the same time we recognize life is short so you should take advantage of it. Here's an example: I saw a bucket of Nestle tollhouse cookie dough. On one hand-enjoy it, eat away. On the other, live healthy and just say no. Everything in moderation. I didn't buy the dough but I bought a 3 lb bag of chocolate chips, I'll make more chocolate chip bread (peanut butter and even pumpkin) that's my middle ground!

The rest of the family has been very busy also, we had Halloween at my friend's house, she has a good neighborhood for pre-school age treating-sidewalks, no hills, short blocks. We all walked around and had a nice soup dinner with extended family. Butters was a 'rocket rider' (astronaut), and the baby was a bumble bee.

Butters has been telling stories and he remembers everything. I've been teaching him about the seasons and trees-deciduous and evergreen. The other morning he was snuggling me and pushed his hand up my sleeve. He asked is I had a 'gina under my arm. I suppose I've let myself go a bit too much!

Baby E is very expressive. She makes so many different faces and gives long hugs. She enjoys watching life from my hip. She's independent and likes to feed herself and do things by herself. This is the face she makes when she wants to get a kiss!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes, I Can

I finished the Bog Jacket for Baby Girl, but I came across a little problem at the neck line.

This is an amazing pattern or 'unpattern' as Elizabeth Zimmerman would say, it's based on clothes found on the bog people, mummified early humans found in Scotland. They had clothes made from one square piece of fabric that is folded and sewn together to make a jacket. Elizabeth figured out how to knit these jackets and how to make them even better. I used scrap yarn at the neck (the blue), which is then opened up and knitted up to make a collar. Unfortunately, I knitted across the waste yarn and would have been left with a big problem.

Instead, I picked up the row below (on the wood needles), had a glass of wine and snipped my yarn. I wove the purple ends back in and worked the live stitches for the collar (in the light purple below).

It worked! The jacket turned out cute; it was good practice, I plan to make one for myself next and know I know how. Unfortunately, I added way too much for the arms and they are long enough for a monkey. I'll try to get the recipient to model it soon.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Can I Let My Breath Out?

It's a mandate! Ha Ha. I'm so tired of losing, it feels so good to finally win. I helped, I volunteered for a few hours today making calls and put in about 5 hours total. This isn't an easy time, but the few moments I had I tried to make this country a better place, this is how Barack inspires people. My faith in We The People is renewed! If you don't believe in Obama, I hope he'll come through for you in the YEARS to come!

Obama makes me feel like this!

Friday, October 31, 2008


Yes, I am an Obamama! I dropped off the ballots yesterday and I've been volunteering for the campaign from home-making calls while knitting with the few minutes I can find! Having grandpa here has helped me considerably.

Not much time left before the big election, so I wanted to encourage everyone to vote, and to vote for the person you believe in. I believe in Barack Obama. He inspires me. He makes me want to do more for my country, to make this the best country it can be. He has concrete plans to get this country back on track. We are facing an economic crisis, we need to end the war in Iraq and we need to heal the wounds that 8 years of George Bush has caused. I've worked on various campaigns in the last 10 years, but I've never seen a candidate like this and I've never felt so moved by a person.

Please, please consider voting for Barack Obama. I got married in a time of war, had two kids during a war and I don't want them to start school during a war, too!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm Not Wonder Woman

...but I do have the coolest Wonder Woman glass that is almost as old as I am!

Ty and I (yes, I'm using his real name) took a trip to Costa Rica after dating about 6 months. We hiked, explored, got lost, had a few scary mishaps, many romantic moments and on the last day we carried all our goods around in a major city, lost in the rain and I suggested we get a cab to the hotel. Ty wanted us to walk. I didn't want to let him down, I didn't want him to think I was weak and therefore, all women were weak. Then I thought about it more. I had around 40 lbs on my back; we had hiked or biked all week long, I battled scorpions and slept in a thatch roof hut. I felt I had proven myself enough. I put down my backpack and yelled, "I'm not wonder woman and I'm tired and we are getting a ride!" (or something close to that).
Well, Butters had a Dad's night at preschool and Ty wasn't sure he could make it, and we toughed it out this far and so we figured, why not, call in the reinforcements, we don't have anything to prove! So, my in laws came up to help us, and we are sure glad to have them.

Thank you again for all the kind words and support. My mom has told us how proud she is of us for handling this and really, we just don't have a choice. But, a few friends have told me I'm an inspiration, and that makes me feel really good. It helps me keep my shit together when Butters is yelling at the top of his lungs and standing on his chair or the baby doesn't want to be put down and when I see how hard this is for my dear husband. If I can help someone else going through far less or, holy mohair, even far more than this, then I'm happy to let you all into our lives. We are down to single digits-9 more treatments to go.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Half Way

We've reached the half way point in DH's radiation treatment-he's been blasted 12 times and has 12 more to go. He's tired, it's hard, I'm not going to sugar coat things or bitch too much, but on the off chance that this could help others, I'll share a little of what our days are like.

DH wakes up tired and feeling like he's got a hang over, as do I, but he has a better excuse. I've decided to try and go to bed by 10:30, no more staying up late knitting and watching Girls Next Store, although if you say TV can't teach you anything, you are wrong, Kendra from GNS taught me what a 'chocolate starfish' is and that saves me from the public embarrassment of NOT knowing, ya know!

When we wake there are typically 2 kids snuggled into bed with us, or pushing us off the side. I get up with both, let DH catch a few more Zzzs and I get the coffee started. Yesterday was a special treat, my friend watched the baby so I could take Butters on his field trip to the pumpkin patch. They had a rule that you can't bring siblings but another mom brought her kids so I was a bit pissed. It was cold and foggy but the fog lifted to a beautiful day. I had on several hand knits-scarf, hat and socks.
We played back at my friend's house and jumped in the leaves. We came home, gave the baby a nap, I did TWO loads of laundry, cleaned up, vacuumed, etc. DH got ready for his appointment-he changed into a T-shirt. You can't wear buttons, I suspect because they will melt but we haven't asked. DH leaves at 4 pm, we tell Butters he's getting special medicine from the doctor, or just that he has an appointment. I stare out the window and drink wine or coffee, depending on the day, the weather and amount of sleep. I work on dinner, straighten up, referee the kids, read w/the kids or knit a row or two. I think today we'll go for a walk along the river, I hate waiting, I feel like Abigail Adams.

When T gets home, he's allowed to pull off a ring on the special count down I made him. Each loop has a reason to fight his way through the exhaustion and keep driving himself everyday to get radiated. There was one R-rated loop that my mom of course saw while she was in town. How does that always happen? I swear there could be one sex scene in an otherwise G movie and my dad would walk right in during the bad part and say, "what are you watching?"

We have dinner, everyone at the same table, which is crazy that I even have to specify that but I guess some families don't do that! DH and I entertain, feed the kids and each person shares what their favorite part of the day was. Here are yesterdays:

Me: Making silly faces with Butters on the tractor ride

Butters: Picking out a big daddy pumpkin for Daddy!

Daddy: Getting slippers as a present from Mommy! (I sewed him a pair of slippers for making it this far)

E: (our guess): playing with her friend-pictured

Then, baths, stories and bedtime. I put the baby to sleep, DH puts Butters to bed and we are done by 8:30 or so. We sit and watch TV and I fold laundry, do dishes, etc and get ready to do it all again tomorrow.