Archive for July, 2008

Yum!

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Fresh blueberrie. Hot muffins.

Big Sister, Little Sister

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Sophie was running around refusing to let me help her get her Pull-Up
back on after a change. So Julie offered to do it instead. More fun all
around, and the job got done.

Introducing Rosie

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

It’s been such a freakishly long time since I’ve posted that people are actually starting to get concerned. I’m really sorry. I’ve had more than one reader ask me where I am and if everything is okay. The truth is, everything is going exceptionally well (knock on wood) and I’ve just been a little distracted by the newest member of our household, among other things.

It all started last Saturday when my friend Laura and I took a drive out to Detta’s Spindle to check out her spinning wheels. It was a wildly fun time. Detta’s shop is in her home, and the wheels are all in a not-so-huge room along with a bunch of other interesting and related fibery stuff. While we were out there, a whole bunch of other ladies showed up to try out wheels too, so it got a little crazy cozy, but more like a party than anything else.

That’s Laura in the green, and Detta to her right. Laura was just along for the ride, but had brought her knitting along and was incredibly patient with me as I tried wheel after wheel and then went back and tried a couple wheels a second time just to be sure.

Here I am at a big, beautiful Schacht-Reeves Saxony towards the end of the day. I loved this wheel, but it wasn’t the one I ended up bringing home.

Let’s do a little more catching up on events from the past week or so. We had some little friends over last week, and I was trying to come up with something fun, exciting and new to do in the yard in order to keep the girls all entertained while their mom was off having dental work.

I dug out a bunch of old sheets, rugs and beach towels to make a silly tent-like structure.

I think they all thought I was a little nutty, and while they were somewhat entertained by the whole business, I also think I probably had more fun with the whole thing than anyone else.

And then on Sunday there was this Aquatennial thing going on over at Lake Calhoun. It’s a local Minneapolis celebration thing involving boats made out of milk cartons and sand castle contests. This kind of thing is totally not Joe’s cup of tea. He hates crowds. So the girls and I hopped on the bike and in the trailer and I pedaled us on over.

We had a picnic lunch, and then I bought us all ice creams for dessert. The girls didn’t want to sit on the grass without a blanket, so we were all sitting like this when a nice woman passing by commented that we would make a great picture. And then when I pulled my camera out of my pocket she took our picture.

We didn’t actually get to see the milk carton boat races – we kept being in the wrong place at the wrong time at the starts, and then they were over before we could get there. We did get to see the sand castles, and this was one of my favorites – a turtle with a castle on its back.

By the time we got home, the girls looked like this – Sophie’s in there too – that’s her blue helmet Julie’s leaning on. I don’t know what I’m going to do if they outgrow the trailer before Julie’s able to ride her own bike for distances. I love taking them for bike rides.

And finally, a picture of Sophie from a morning last week when Julie was at school. We were outside playing with bubbles. I think I’d pretty much given up getting any spinning done at this point, but she just looked so cute with the sun dappling her round little face that I had to run in and grab the camera.

Anyway, I did my best to finish the spindled sock yarn before the big wheel-buying trip, but it took me most of last week to get it plied. That was one full spindle towards the end!

I totally love the way this yarn looks, but I’m certain I over-spun the singles, which made for some strong but not-so-soft yarn. And the high-energy twits also seemed to make for some crinkles after it was washed.

So I re-skeined it and left it on the niddy-noddy for a couple days to straighten it all back out.

And then I tamed it further with some steam from the tea kettle. I’ve got a sock started with it, but I’ll save that for another post. Let’s get back to that spinning wheel trip.

I went out there totally wanting to fall in love with the Schacht Ladybug because it’s so darn cute and it doesn’t hurt that the price was right. But of all the wheels I tried, including the Schacht Matchless, the Ashford Traveller, the Louet Julia, and a couple of Majacraft models, the Ladybug was the least fun to use. The treadling was stiff and less than smooth. Of all the others I tried, I have to say that most of them felt more or less the same with the exception of the Schacht-Reeves Saxony, which was both beyond my budget limits and somewhat less versatile than the model I chose – and the model I chose.

The Majacraft Rose was the third wheel that I tried – right after the Ladybug – and when I started to treadle it, you could have knocked me down. It was so smooth, so natural. The treadles on this wheel are a little closer to the floor than most of the other wheels I tried, which makes it more comfortable for my long legs.

It’s hard to explain just how right this wheel felt. Pretty much all the other wheels I tried, I had to keep leaning forward to move the wheel clockwise in order to get it started in the right direction. This one had no problem going the right way based just on the intuitive pressure from my feet.

Add to that, it’s a beautiful wheel. It’s made from Rimu wood, native from New Zealand. It has a traditional look to it with somewhat modern, cleaner lines than some of the other wheels on the market.

And on top of that, it’s a pretty darn versatile machine. It can do fine to bulky yarn, it has all kinds of available accessories that will keep it growing with my spinning abilities for the forseeable future.

Lucky me, it was (barely) within my price range, and I got to bring Rosie home with me last Saturday.

I had some Mountain Colors Targhee wool on hand, and before I knew it, half of it was spun up on a bobbin.

I’m so used to working with the smooth superwash merino, the Targhee was a little tough to draft. Actually, even after splitting it into pretty thin strips and a ton of pre-drafting, I still had a hard time avoiding crazy slubs. But I carried on, victim to the siren song of the wheel, and before I knew it there was a second bobbin full of the stuff.

And then it turned into this…

Definitely beginner-level yarn – thick and thin, unevenly twisted, and I totally love it. Now you know what I’ve been doing instead of blogging this week.

Here’s a shot of all the yarn hanging on the line to dry.

And another one, trying to get a true-to-color photo on my dried-out weedy lawn. The colors still look a little washed out here.

After washing, the blue yarn was a lot more relaxed, a lot happier looking.

There’s already another project on the wheel. This time, it’s some cotton-candy soft merino. Excuse me while I go obsess.

Man, Oh Man…

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

I SO want to catch up on blog stuff. I’m going to do it right now even though I didn’t even come down stairs from putting the girls to bed till almost 10. And then I spent half an hour catching up with my husband. Some of these photos go back a ways…but at least I’m finally getting around to the knitting and spinning updates!

About a week or so ago, a rare thing happened – the girls both fell asleep in the car. It happened on the way home from the Mall of America – Julie was holding the bag with her new dress in it.

So I had Joe drive us through Starbucks, and we sat in the car for a few minutes and had a little mini-date. And I did some knitting.

Changing subjects, last Thursday we were at a playdate, and one of the girls found a cicada on the ground. One of those giant, creepy-looking bugs. It was a moment in which we were on the brink of having four little girls freak right the hell out. Instead, I leaned over and picked it up, told them a few little factoids about how they spend most of their lives underground and stuff, and before I knew it, Julie wanted a turn holding it.

And then Sophie wanted a turn, too.

Our little friends were a little more reticent about the giant bug, but at least nobody climbed the walls over it.

On to the spinning. I’m still working on the Sheep-to-Shoe kit from Blue Moon. Here’s where it stood last week – half done, plus one finished spindle and a second spindle half full…

And here’s the status as of last night – half of the yarn, finished in front, two full spindles and one empty spindle, one sixth of the roving left to go on it. That ball of roving looks a lot smaller in the picture than it does in real life. It really amazes me that such a large volume of wool can turn into such a relatively small volume of singles.

I’d really like to finish this spinning project this week. Because – um – I have an appointment for Saturday morning out at Detta’s to try out new wheels. Detta sounded super-nice on the phone and I’m really looking forward to meeting her in person. She was all “You really have to sit down and try several out – it’s like picking out puppies from a litter – you just know which one wants to follow you home when you play with it.”

It sure would be nice to have the spindle project done before my new wheel follows me home on Saturday so that I can focus on the wheel guilt-free. Yay!

Oh, look – it’s a finished object – those cotton socks are finally done. They look like crap all unblocked and just laying there in my semimostly-shaded backyard.

But they look pretty happy on my feet, and they’re quite comfy. Yay!

I’ve got another pair of socks started at the moment, but I really don’t want to talk about them just yet. If they turn out decently and I finish them in time, they might go to the Fair. Or maybe not. The clock’s ticking on the entry deadline of August 13, and I really don’t want to pressure myself on a silly ole pair of socks.

Finally, we can’t ignore the diamond sweater. I have been working on the diamond sweater whenever I have some quality couch time in the evening with a DVD. That hasn’t been happening very regularly, though, and even when I do get an hour or so, it’s slow going.

Here’s the big-picture view of the sleeves.

They kind of remind me of a giant, wooly jellyfish with their long tendrils of yarn tails. I continually waffle between winding the yarn up into nice little butterflies and just letting the tails run wild. It almost seems like the butterflies are harder to untangle than the unfettered strands.

The thing is, I am adding in new color chunks every few rows, so having to stop to splice more yarn onto an existing strand (usually the grey-purple background color) just pisses me off. So I usually splice in a pretty long chunk. Also, the weaving in of the ends takes for freakin’ ever, and there are a lot of ends. Unlike with the mitered square blanket, there is no great place to put a lot of the ends, so I have to get creative.

Yeah, so it’s creeping along. I think I need to add a few more rows to the body before it’ll be ready for joining at the underarms as well. The sleeves are maybe 1/3 or so finished. I’m not betting on this one making it to the fair, but definitely I’ll be wearing it this winter.

Wanna hear something funny? One of my readers messaged me and said

Which made me laugh out loud. I think the internal me is all about sexy librarian. HA! And by the way, I keep meaning to do a post about all the audio books I’ve been listening to. Does anyone care about audio books?

And finally, I’ve been having a neighbor kid come over and play with Sophie one or two mornings a week while Julie is in pre-school. J is really good with my girls, we’ve known him since we moved here a couple years ago, and he is the son of one of my fabulous favorite neighbors. He’s only 12, but I’m around the house and available for any help they might need, and I check in on them regularly. Still, it gives me a chance to get a little cleaning or bill-paying done unassisted. Nice!

I snuck this picture through the kitchen window – they are playing with a tub of uncooked rice mixed with some beads that I keep around for digging in, measuring, and generally squishing. Best toy I ever bought! They got bored with the combination of sidewalk chalk, bubbles, bike, and water toys after about fifteen minutes – they played with the rice for more than half an hour!

Whew! That’s it. I’m off to spin a little before bed.

I Am…

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

…almost at a loss as to what to do with myself since Sophie is asleep at her normal bedtime for the first time in about three weeks.

…going to finish a pair of socks tonight (knock on wood)

…probably going to enjoy a bowl of the Fruit Loops I bought at the grocery store the other day and have hidden in the cabinet so that I don’t have to set a bad example for the girls.

…going to catch up on some of the Netflix that have been waiting for me to get an evening to myself.

…totally in love with my family even though they drive me insane.

…without any good pictures to offer tonight. Maybe tomorrow.

And Then This Happened…

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Sunday Afternoon

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

We spent most of the day at the Maul of America getting some new shorts
for Joe and a couple of dresses for Julie – all her little friends at
pre-school seem to favor dresses, so now she does too.

It's super warm here today, and the water in the wading pool has finally
warmed up to comfortable temperature, so the girls are relaxing a bit
while Joe digs the detritus of last months' storm from the gutters on
the garage – there are tiny seed saplings starting to pop up from them,
which was our sign to pay them some attention.

As for me, I am cruising along on my stripey cotton socks and resting my
feet in the pool while Sophie teases me"Ribbi Ribbi Mommy" (her floatie
is a frog)

Holidazed

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

I’m still in a daze from yesterday’s fun. I can’t remember the last time I had such an incredibly fun, yet relaxed and relatively carefree day. The girls woke up happy and stayed happy till the very end. Joe was in a pretty good mood all day. I did almost no cooking. And there was fun, fun, fun till I started to feel like I was dreaming. This is a pretty knitting-free post, and quite picture heavy, so if you’re not interested in my family saga, move along now and see you next time. Here we go…

We slept in just a little bit, but not too late because the parade was to start at 10, which meant we had to leave the house by 9:30. Joe fed the girls breakfast while I took a shower and got dressed. We made it to the parade site at just the right time – early enough to find a decent spot and late enough that the girls didn’t get too restless while they waited. The red wagon worked out pretty well as a vehicle since we had to park several blocks away, and it provided better seating for them than the double stroller did last year – this way they both got front row seats.

I love this parade since it reminds me very much of the parades from my childhood, in downtown Columbia Missouri. It was a lot like last year’s parade, but at only once a year and with a few changes it never seems to get boring. There’s the fire engines,

The horses (there were many – I liked this one’s glitter-painted hooves.)

The men in kilts…

The war veterans…

While I am generally anti-war, I feel a strong sense of pride and gratitude for these men and women who have given so much for our country – the young veterans as well as the old. We clapped for about fifteen minutes straight as the ranks passed us by, and I explained in simple words to my girls that these were people who have done brave things for our country and we should cheer for them.

The girls got stickered up by the politicians – we accepted only the Democrats’ labels, of course.

Several flag teams…

and marching bands…

countless clowns…

more horses, or in this case really Icelandic ponies. Ponies having really bad hair days, that is…

A float full of mini beauty queens…

and a pack of tiny cheerleaders…

This family was sitting right next to us, and they had the candy-whoring down to a science. They were dressed in their gaudiest, glitteriest “patriotic” frippery, and every time a candy-wielding parade group passed by, the girls chimed “Happy Independence Day!” It never failed – every group showered them with hand-fulls of whatever they were giving out. Not that I really wanted my girls to get too much junk, and we did come home with quite our share of freebies, but a lot of people passed my cuties by altogether in the lee of this family, and it irked me just a bit – mostly because I wanted my girls to feel as lavished with attention as those two were.

This guy impressed me, riding his horse this way – and the horse impressed me even more as it didn’t even flinch when the other people in the group shot very loud toy guns.

Stilt-walkers…

These two kids in their little toy convertible, with their stressed-out mom who was trying to keep them going at the right speed.

Some hot dogs – this black one in particular – the weather was at least perfect for people this year – neither overly hot or humid like last year.

The Edina swim team with their alligator mascot…

After the parade we came home and I made BLTs for lunch. I had a giant head of leaf-lettuce from our CSA share, and recently discovered Campari brand of tomatoes from the store, which unlike most store-bought tomatoes actually taste really good and are big enough to slice for sandwiches. Yum! Then it was time for Sophie’s nap, and I indulged in a nap along with her. Glorious sleep! (She’s napping again as I type, but this time I’m sipping on a cup of coffee instead of the sleep that I could really still use today.)

By the time everyone was up, I had just enough time to make a nice berry salad – I like to toss in a little brown sugar, and for the adult version a splash of dark rum for flavor with my strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. MMMM! And we headed over to Joe’s cousin’s house for barbecue. She made some awesome ribs, and we all ate out on the deck. This time, the kids actually stayed put at their table and ate their food. My girls love ribs almost as much as I do.

Then there were cupcakes, which they all enjoyed, but Sophie especially.

The kids blew bubbles and ran around while the grownups…

played croquet! I haven’t played croquet for a very long time, but I’ve always loved it. That’s Joe’s cousin John taking a turn.

Joe played only during the first game, while I helped wrangle the kids and clean up. During the second game, I played and he amused me in between my turns by tossing a frisbee. I SO suck at throwing a frisbee. But I still kind of enjoy it.

Here’s my croquet ball.

Here’s the view from my place on the field ahead of the pack as we finished the game.

For once, I actually won – coming out of a dismal start – I felt like a little kid having way too much fun.

But it was time for the cousins to take a b-a-t-h and we decided to toss ours in with them. Please don’t mention this one in the comments or link to it – I’m hoping the creeps don’t get their hands on it, but the bubbles are doing a pretty good job here.

It was pretty hilarious, watching them all do their thing, and they loved it.

And then it was time for the fireworks. The girls – Julie especially – had been looking forward to it. I’d promised them we could go if they were up to it and not too tired or crabby. We got there just late enough that there were no parking spots left anywhere close, so Joe dropped us off and drove around while the girls and I sat and watched the show.

I only wish he could have seen the looks of wonder and excitement on their faces. They sat in my lap and watched at first…

And then Julie jumped up and did a little happy-fireworks dance.

And despite an almost-dead cell phone on my part, we managed to meet back up with Joe just a block away and hop back in the van for the ride home. At which point Julie kind of lost it a bit and fell into whinging mode till we got her to bed, but that was to be expected as it was a good three hours past her normal bed time. So I’m calling the day a wild success.

This morning was a little slower, but just as happy. Joe got up and went off to play disc golf, then the girls and I had breakfast before Joining some of our favorite neighbors for a splash in their wading pool that lasted the rest of the morning. The men came home just in time to go back out and fetch sandwiches for our lunch, which we ate out on the neighbor’s fantastic deck before bringing the girls home for Sophie’s nap time and a break all around.

Later, there will probably be more wading pool action (we had filled ours already when the neighbors invited us over, and it will be warm enough to swim in by the time Sophie wakes up). I also have a rack of ribs thawed in the fridge that need to be barbecued – I bought them before I knew the menu for yesterday’s cook-out, but I’m happy to eat ribs twice in a row anyway. Happy Happy Joy Joy!

Happy Independence Day

Friday, July 4th, 2008

(To my American readers)

From the parade in Edina.

Night On The Town

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Me and my two favorite neighbors are just wraping up a girls' night
out…pedicures, chinese food, and ice cream at Sebastian Joe's. I love
the chocolate coyote. Home I go to see if there's any chance both girls
are asleep yet.