Thursday, March 30, 2006

Thrifty bunnie

I have thriftiness in my blood, but it seems to be watered down by something else. My gramma (heck, many of the women on my dad's side of the family) is the second-hand queen, and she has the goods to prove it. I was always amazed by how much stuff she could fit in her little one-bedroom apartment, and now that she has a house, much of the decor has come from garage sale finds and second hand shops. She is also adept at finding exactly what she's looking for when she does go out, so no time wasted. I never really was that great at it, but I have had the occasion to run into a garage sale and pick up some great kids' stuff. Heck, I wouldn't buy anything Little Tikes or the like on sale brand new...too durn pricey. But with the well-to-do communities around here, someone is always selling them at a garage sale for a deep discount.

While I have done garage-sale-ing, I have never done thrift-store-shopping. After reading all of SouleMama's finds (oh...and does she find amazing stuff!! I'm just in awe of her in general), and being pea-green with envy, and needing some things and having to be tight on the budget, I thought I'd check it out. There are several very nice stores all within a 10-minute drive to my house.

I actually had the afternoon to myself (little guy at Grandma's while I got my hair cut, big guy at a play date with a bud, hubby at work), I decided to give it a go today. Oh. My. Gosh. It was so much fun!! I really wish I'd had someone to go with me (like a girlfriend, which I'm short on these days, or my mom), but regardless, I still really enjoyed myself. I can see how it can be addictive! I need some tank dresses and loose comfy clothes for summer, oh, and dishes, and you can bet I'll be going back again.

Summer is on it's way, and Liam will need an entire wardrobe, since he's pretty well outgrown the 6s he was in last summer. He also needed a few long-sleeved Ts to get him through until the weather gets warm enough to wear short sleeves to school. Two stuck out as perfect for my big guy:

The Cavs are Liam's team. The boy LOVES him some Cavs. TGF Lebron, otherwise the boy might not have any hope. We are actually planning to go see them play in April for a school fundraiser, and he can hardly wait. Green is the boy's favorite color, and he loves anything soccer, too, so that was a must have. At 1.50 each, they were a steal.

As I was getting ready to check out, I spied these:

Now, I normally wouldn't just pick up stuffed animals for the heck of it. We have an entire laundry basket puking full in the kids' closet that never get played with unless company comes, but these...well...I had to have them (They were $1 each!!). They're not for me though...really...I thought they'd make great gifts for the boys for Easter.

I have always loved bunnies (believe it or not, the nickname has nothing to do with my love of bunnies), and every year at easter, we got some kind of stuffed bunny in the basket. My favorite bunny, though, was one that my gramma (same thrifty one as above, who also had killer sewing skills...the woman is amazing...more on her another time) made for me. She had a beautiful antique-looking dress, ribbons around her ears, rouged cheeks, and button eyes. I loved her. Still have her, though she's seen better days and is now naked. I need to make her some clothes and give her a bath.

Before Liam was born (or was it after? Can't remember exactly when), I fell in love with a wool fabric bunny wearing real antique fabrics and jewelry at a Christmas Bazaar and bought her, though she was $80 (which I thought was expensive at the time, but now I know is really a fair price). My mother-in-law saw how much I loved that bunny and bought me her mate in secret and gave him to me as a gift. I love these bunnies, and they sit atop my bookshelf in my front room (I need to take a photo of them for you).

The bunnies from the thrift store look just like the bunny my gramma gave me, (and similar to the bunnies from the bazaar) and I could tell from first glance that they were made with love. The clothes for the pair are of coordinating fabrics, like they belong together. Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see if there were any identifying marks on these bunnies, so I took a peek under their clothes. The backs were sewn closed with tiny perfect stitches. The boy's shirt has perfect snaps the whole length of the shirt. Sure enough:

You would never know by looking at these bunnies that they are 13 years old. Their clothes are pristine, and both are clean as a whistle. So my one question is, how did they end up at a thrift store?

Another curiosity...they are each numbered. Girl Bunnie is #2, Boy Bunnie is #3. Hmm....what about #1? There was one other bunny there this afternoon, but it was dressed in Christmas colors, so I assumed it was by a different creator. I may go back tomorrow and peek under her dress when no one is looking. Bunny peeper...

So now I'm really wanting to know....who is EBHP? Who did she make these bunnies for? How many bunnies are there? How will I ever find this information!!!! Stay tuned!

The do's and don'ts of magnetic clasps

First, let me say that I did a couple don'ts, and I will try to sway you from making the same dumb mistakes I did.

Lesson 1: Read the back of the box the clasp comes in. (click for a closer view, then come back). The first magnetic clasp I used was a different brand (Susan Bates or someother...can't remember...this is a theme in my life), and this oh-so-important information was not included in the destructions, um, directions.

Says right on there to use cardboard to keep the prongs from cutting back through the fabric. I knew I needed some kind of stabilizer, but failed to have the brains to actually put it on. Personally, I wouldn't use cardboard either, in something that may have the potential to get wet (like say if you put the snaps on BEFORE felting?)

Lesson 2: Don't forget to put the metal support piece on before hiding your clasp in a tab. The magnet will work better that way. Trust me. There might be extra scissoring on knitting involved, and that's something some of us work to avoid.

Lesson 3: Um...I'm sure I'll think of one later. Don't forget to drink while doing this or eat mass quantities of chocolate? put it on before or after felting? I put mine on before. Why? I'm impatient and wanted there to be no finishing work once the purse was blocked. Also, given the choice to sew with needle and embroidery thread vs. sewing up an invisible garter seam, the latter's my choice. I'm sure someone can give good reason why you should do it after felting, like being able to ensure that all is lined up perfectly. I've never been one to do things in proper order, however.

So here's what the snaps look like:
The magnetic parts are on the right, the metal support pieces on the left.

I knit a tab-shaped piece using some of the scrap from before to use for demonstration purposes. When I knit the real tab, I just picked up the middle 7 or 8 stitches from the side of the purse and knit on until the tab folded in half was the length I wanted. I used the heavier magnet (one side of the snap is heavier than the other) to be anchored in the tab and the lighter one in the side of the purse because I liked the weight of the tab that way. You might prefer the opposite. I centered the magnet in the tab so that when I foded the tab over to sew it down, the magnet would be near the end of the tab. Here's pushing it through the knitting. It actually went between one stitch and in the middle of another, I think.

I (should have) cut out a piece of felt large enough that the prongs of the magnet would be covered when folded over. Then I cut holes for the prongs to go through. Now mind you, this is good quality 100% wool felt I used (love me the Waldorf school store). Craft felt may not do the trick. Felt goes over the prongs.

Next, I put the metal support piece down and folded the prongs over. This may require pliers, but be careful so you don't scuff the finish.

Then I folded the tab over on itself so that the wrong sides of the tab came together (the metal support piece is thus hidden) and used an invisible seam to close the tab (though this picture does not really show just shows me folding and not seaming, since I want to be able to use this clasp on another purse). Voila! If you chose not to use a tab and to just install the magnetic snap on the inside of the purse, you could also camouflage the metal support pieces, which would be on the outside of the purse, with large, decorative buttons.

I hope this helps someone out there...and I wish I had something great to send to my first non-family commenter! So here's a kiss: MWAH!

Pickin' a Booga

I finished the Booga Bag this morning before I took Liam to school this morning. I decided not to put a magnetic clasp on this one and to use a button closure instead, and I'm pleased with the results (I got mad props at the school when I dropped them off). Since I actually had a comment on Sophie (I'm so excited that someone read my blog!), I'm going to post pics of how I did (or maybe should have done?) the magnet closure in a separate post following this one.

I bought 3 bags of value buttons from JoAnn's a month and a half ago for the purpose of making sock puppets, as requested by Liam for Valentine's gifts for his classmates, but that never materialized. Gosh, can't imagine why. Anyway, I found the perfect button out of this stash. I *shudder* (I still can't get used to cutting my knitting...even when I know it's not going to fall apart) cut the front of the bag for the buttonhole and used pink thread to sew round the buttonhole to stablize it (not that it was unstable to begin was felted after all).

The picture of the bag was taken at the school this morning in one of the little buildings in the meadow where the preschool and kindergarten children play. I didn't want to crawl inside to take the picture so there wouldn't be backlighting, as the inside of the little house is a mudpit, though Jonah would have loved to see Mommie squooshing in the muck.

Because I finished it this morning and was in a hurry to get it to the school this morning, I didn't have a chance to take the myriad crazy pictures like I did for the Sophie bag. I really didn't do anything drastically different than I did for the one I made for myself. There is only one pocket on the inside, and I added the button closure. Other than that, the specs follow the Booga pattern. Here is the finished product:

I usually let Jonah play in the meadow in the mornings on the days I take Liam to school (hubby does not, since he's on more of a time crunch). It gives him a chance to run around with other children (many of them siblings of children in Liam's class or the other pre-K/K classes) and blow off steam outside before going to hang out with the grandparents while I'm at school. The children always find plenty to do to keep themselves busy. There is a gazebo to stand in with a crazy huge root/stump from a fallen tree (I should have taken a picture of it while I had the camera there today), the little playhouse above (not that you can really see much of it), a bridge over a trench, an archway, and lots of grass. At the rear of the meadow are trees where the meadow borders neighboring property. Oh, and did I mention the mud in the fall, winter, and spring? Posted on our newsletter this month as being overheard by someone at the rink: "When the Waldorf kids fall on the ice, they leave mud streaks." (Grades 1-8 go skating at one of the universities during the winter) I quit washing his muddy outerwear on a daily basis. Now it might get washed once a month or every couple of weeks depending on how bad they are.

Anyway...I digress. Every once in a while, strange things show up in the meadow for the children to investigate (the root/stump, for one). Some stay, and some disappear (a large tire from a tractor, I'm guessing, was there for a while but became a problem and is now gone...the stump has stayed. Over the last week or so, a broken bench has appeared, and the children have been delighted with it. It's amazing to see how children can see fun in something that appears completely non-entertaining and useless.

This morning, the children were taking turns using it as a jumping ramp. When Jonah saw the older children running up the bench and jumping from the highest point, he thought for sure this was a job meant for him. While I did not catch him on camera in the act of jumping, I did catch him sitting. He was hesitant to leave, even when the teacher rang the handbell, when normally he would run to follow the children to line up in their trains. I did eventually convince him to leave without too much of a wrestling match. In this picture, you can see the bottom of the playhouse...

The winter coat belies the true weather of the day. While it was cool when we left for the school, by the time we were ready to head back home, it was much too warm for the coat. By the end of the day, we were all running about in T-shirts with NO JACKETS! Yay, spring!

My flowers are getting ready to put on a show. The crocuses are in full bloom, the snowdrops are coming in second, followed by the daffodils, the hyacinths, and finally, the tulips. My crocuses are all blooming in these showy clusters. I think my favorites are the purple and white striped ones. I have yellow, purple, white, and the striped purple.

I also found these blooming on the side of the house. I can't remember what they are called.

I have so much to say today, so I'm going to break it up into a few separate posts...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Getting a little adventurous

Not sure what's up with my Liam, but he's getting really adventurous these days with trying new foods. At the grocery the other night he saw asparagus, which is in season at the moment and on sale. "Mom...what's that?" Asparagus, I say. "Can we get some?" Sure, I say, doubting highly that any will be tasted once cooked.

So last night I decided to steam up the asparagus for dinner. It got just a bit overdone due to craziness here (how the heck did women in the 50s watch the kids, cook dinner, and have a hot meal on the table by the time Dear got home, all the while wearing her pearls? Valium? Alcohol?), but I thought that actually might work in its favor with the crew. Just to play it safe, I made a little melted Velveeta to the side so the kids could drizzle it on top. Everything tastes better with a little cheese, right? (Not according to my mother-in-law...but we love her anyway. More cheese for us mice.) Liam flatly refused to have any cheese sauce on his. Took a healthy bite. Wrinkled up his nose. I figured, yup, that's's coming back out. With the squinchy face, he says, "Mmm. This asparagus sure is good!" He finished most of the asparagus on his plate. You could've knocked me over with a feather. Then he tried to convince baby bro that he should eat his all gone too. Jonah, however, wasn't taking the bait. Broccoli, he'll do, but the asparagus, well, that was pushing it a bit too far.

Now, I'm not the hugest fan of asparagus. I like it cooked just so...has to be just tender but not mushy. Has to have a sauce to go with it. Plenty of seasoning and butter. But, with Liam being so adventurous, I made sure to eat mine till it was gone. Something about it reminds me of brussel sprouts. Has just a bit of bitter edge to it. The cheese made it more palatable.

All the spring fruits and veggies are making me dream of having a garden this to bed to dream of that for a while.

Somebody send me a lifeline

There has been a bit of crafting here at the Bunnie hutch. I started another Booga Bag a couple of weeks ago and hoped to have it and a sister bag in another colorway finished before the beginning of Spring Break, but I got hung up on getting Tallulah finished and off in time to go to Jamaica. After finishing another bear (well...almost finishing. Still have some seaming to do), I pulled out the stops and mostly finished the Booga Bag (all but the pocket and weaving in ends, which I hate). I immediately wanted to cast on for the second bag so I could felt them both at the same time. The Sophie bag was actually supposed to be another Booga Bag (BB), but I had the two patterns in the same pile of papers, and I'd already cast on, knit the bottom of the bag, and was picking up stitches when I realized I was knitting the wrong pattern. It all worked out well. The Sophie bag started this weekend and both it and the rest of the demanding work on the BB were finished this afternoon and evening. I felted them this afternoon, and after a dry on fluff in the dryer, Sophie is ready for her debut. The BB is still drying, so it won't be ready until tomorrow.

I bought two sets of magnetic bag clasps a while ago, and I thought I'd try one out on this bag. It was a bit of a trick trying to figure out how to hide the clasps and how to have it hold securely. I also wanted to figure out a way to sew the pockets on more smoothly without the seams puckering the material on the outside of the bag.

So here are lots of progress shots (me = camera happy today) and the final product. Details on pattern, etc., are at the end.

I wanted to put pockets in this one like I did the last, as pockets in a purse are really an essential, particularly if you don't want to have to use a separate wallet. The last time I did pockets, I had a hard time seeing where I last picked up the bump on the wrong side while doing my whipstitch. Phyl just posted today about using a lifeline in her lace knitting, and while I've yet to do that (not that I haven't had to rip lace back...what a pain in the arse), I thought something similar might work here.

I took some contrasting (bright yellow) waste yarn and figured out where I wanted the pocket placed. Then I did a running stitch one row outside where I needed to be using the bumps straight up for the sides of the pocket and across for the bottom of the pocket. Voila! A straight line to follow. Then it was much easier to whipstitch the pocket to the bag.

A closeup of my lifeline....
So now the finished pocket:
And the finished bag from the outside (sans magnetic clasp) sitting on a book for scale to be used later. These were in afternoon indirect light from the front window.

Then I put the clasp in the tab hanging from the top, folded the tab over and sewed the sides so the back of the clasp is hidden. Don't be like me and forget to put the little washer thingy on. Threw her in the front loader in a pillowcase with a few pairs of jeans and a few large towels and a squirt of dishsoap. Then I used a couple of Priority Mail boxes (free from the post office) and cut triangular pieces for the sides and a rectangular piece for the bottom so the purse will sit flat. Stashed the cardboard in plastic grocery bags in the purse and filled the empty space with more bags...took her outside for another photo op. Smile! This is afternoon sun in my back yard. You can still kinda tell where my pocket ended up, but it's not too bad.

Then I stuck her in the dryer on the sweater platform thingy (I'm full of technical jargon tonight, bear with me!) so she could rest flat and wouldn't be tossed about and dried her on low for a few hours. I had to go back at this point and use *gasp* scissors to cut the tab open so I could put the darn washer on, since I forgot it and then sewed it back up with same color floss.

And now the final product! Same book as the above picture. See how she shrank (shrunk) smaller?

Tada! And the inside...the pink at the top is one of the pockets. The other pocket is on the inside opposite and can't be seen in this photo.

Pattern: Sophie
Yarn: Noro Kureyon, color #74 (I think...or it may be the BB is 74...), 2 1/2 skeins including pockets and extra tab.
Needles: size 10 1/2 bamboo double pointed and long bamboo circulars.
Modifications: I added two pockets to the inside of the purse and the magnetic clasp. Other than that, I pretty much followed the pattern.
What did I like/what would I do differently: I like the idea of the magnetic clasps, but I think I need to use some kind of stablizer between them and the knit fabric, as the tabs on the clasp want to poke through the material. The lifeline worked well, and I'll use it again. My felted material never gets felted enough for my liking. I'm not sure what I need to do differently. Likely it has something to do with the fact that I have a front loader. I may need to do more hot/cold transitions. As it was, the bag went through 4 or 5 20-minute cycles on hot-enough-to -singe-your-skin on high agitation. More research is required.

If you've made it this far, congrats...and feel free to comment with suggestions! Details on the BB will follow soon!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Nightly nugget

Said by me at dinner last night when the two boys were twitching in their chairs while eating: What is it about sitting down at the table to eat that causes you two to have epileptic fits?

I wish I'd had video to post.


Spring break is flying along. Can't believe it's already Tuesday! I'm not getting anywhere on my lost of things to do, which is driving me nuts. I need to regroup this evening and get it going for the rest of the week.

Last night Liam had his first get-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-wailing earache. Both the kids have been sick with chest colds since last week, and Liam had just gotten back to school yesterday after having missed three days last week.

I had just settled in for an evening of quiet and knitting when I heard someone coming down the stairs. I usually assume it to be the littlest one, since he has a habit of getting out of bed once big brother falls asleep, but this time the crying gave it away to be the oldest one.

Liam never wakes up crying, so my first assumption was a nightmare. Once he saw me though, he told me that his ears were hurting him. I gave him some Tylenol and sent him back up to bed. About 10 minutes later, he was back downstairs crying again. So I pulled out the hot rice sock and popped it in the microwave, and we cuddled up on the couch. I told him how cuddling with my mommy used to make me feel better when I had an earache or a tummyache.

Once he fell asleep, I snuck out and went upstairs to find my retainer so I could get ready for bed myself. When I got to the top of the stairs, I heard wailing from the upstairs bedroom. Jonah had woken up and realized that Liam wasn't in bed with him. He had climbed out of our bed and up into Liam's loft bed and couldn't get back down. By the time I had heard him, he was hysterical. Needless to say, he wasn't about to let me out of his sight.

To make a long story short, it was a long restless night. As a mom, there are very few things more disconcerting that having your child in pain and feeling like there's nothing else you can do. Cliff was doing 2nd shift testing, so he wouldn't be home until at near 1 am., so I had to try to haul 50 lbs of sleeping 5-year-old up the two flights of stairs from basement to bedroom, all the while trying to convince the 2-year-old that I wasn't going to evaporate into thin air in the 3 minutes I would be gone. By the time all were in bed and sleeping it was near midnight. I don't know how single moms do it. I'm so blessed to have a hubby who is handy with the kids when all hell breaks loose.

So today, everyone was a bit tired and grumpy. I ordered all people on two legs upstairs to nap at 11:30 this morning (yup, including me), and after a 4-hour nap, I feel much better, and the kids seem better too. Liam didn't nap the whole 4 hours, but he at least napped a little while.

Hopefully I'll have some knitting (and felting) progress to show you later!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A meme and a boy with his toy

My friend Kat sent me this in an email, and I thought I'd just post the answers here.

1. FIRST NAME? Jessica (bunnie is a nickname...a story for another time), but I always go by Jess.

2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? I was named after TV reporter Jessica Savage, who apparently was fairly well known in journalism around the time of my birth.

3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Last week, when my son told me that we should recruit NASA to build new homes for Jamaican children.

4 DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Yes. When I have the time to print slowly.


6. KIDS? Liam and Jonah


8. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Just this here blog. I've made many ill-fated attempts to try to keep a journal over the years, but I can't write as fast as I can type. I think I was always meant to keep a diary Doogie Howser style. Much easier to edit.

9. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Never....Uh....yeah.

10. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yes. But I'm missing my appendix.

11. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Yes. And scream before, during, and after the jump.

12. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? It changes. Lately it's been Raisin Nut Bran mixed with Bran Chex. Oh, and Grape Nuts Trail Mix in my yogurt. Someone I live with and love very much has a bran addiction and is more regular than the 5 o'clock Metro.

13. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Most of the time. Tennis shoes not always.

14. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Yup. All except the upper body. Oh, you meant like constitutionally and emotionally? You bet. Being a mom makes you that way.

15. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Ooh. Do I have to have a favorite? Um....Depends on where it is from. Strickland's Vanilla or chocolate almond. Anything Breyer's chocolate. Oh, and orange sherbet.

16. SHOE SIZE? 9 1/2-10 depending on the shoe. It's grown since I was younger. Used to be a 9 until I got pregnant. My feet definitely grew through pregnancy.

17. RED OR PINK? Both. Red more than pink, because it's my power color. But I've recently started wearing a lot of pink. Something about having short hair makes me feel the need to prove my femininity.




21. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES YOU ARE WEARING? blue and orange plaid jammie bottoms and beat up slippers. My daytime apparel when I'm not at school. For school I usually wear flare jeans and brown leather slip on shoes with a chunky heel.

22. LAST THING YOU ATE? Homemade waffles, bacon, and scrambledy eggs with cheese.


24. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? blue-green like the water in Cancun.

25. FAVORITE SMELL? Brand new babies. My kid's milk breath when they were still nursing. I do like citrus, too.

26. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? My mom. She called me, but she really meant to call her mom. Like mother like daughter. I did the same thing to her not that long ago. I called her when I really meant to call my sister, and then I argued with her about her identity. "Sam?" "No, this is your mother." "No, it's not." "Yes, it is. I know who I am." This went on for another 30 seconds until the light finally went on.

27. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO? Good sense of humor. Firm handshake. People who like to do rather than talk. Tolerance. A willingness to do what I want :)

28. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Absolutely. I miss her very much. Hi Kat!

29. FAVORITE DRINK? Fountain Diet Coke from McDonald's. It's the ice and the fizz, baby.

30. FAVORITE SPORT? To do? Triathlon or any sport therein. To watch? College Hoops in March.

31. HAIR COLOR? Medium brown with red highlights. I occasionally color my hair with Natural Instincts. No commitment that way.

32. EYE COLOR? Hazel. Green when I'm emotional. More brown when I'm sick or tired.

33. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Used to. My vision isn't bad enough to need them all the time. I do wear glasses to drive and see the blackboard at school. They give me a headache to wear when I'm doing up close work.

34. FAVORITE FOOD? Spicy Peanut Chicken from Pad Thai.

35. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy endings. Come on. I'm a mushy Pisces, after all.

36. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Hmm...What Lies Beneath was on last night. A scary movie, but I watched because it was Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford.

37. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Grey Indians Long-sleeved T. Not that I like the Indians. I just like big comfy T's.

38. SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer. Winter only for skiing and snow forts.

39. HUGS OR KISSES? Hugs. Kisses for special people.

40. FAVORITE DESSERT? Cheesecake. Anything chocolate.

41. WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? I haven't decided who to send it to yet!

42 LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Don't know...See #41.

43. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Molecular Biology of the Gene. MCAT strategy. Organic Chemistry. Seriously. I haven't time for pleasure reading at the moment. I'd rather knit to unwind since I won't remember what I've read anyway. At least until school is done.

44. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Don't have one.

45. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV? The movie listed above. College Basketball. I don't watch much TV.

46. FAVORITE SOUNDS? My children's laughter. Nature sounds, particularly water.

47. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Ooh...tough. They each have their own merits. I've seen the Stones, and I love me some Sympathy for the Devil. But the Beatles, well. You can't deny the power of the Fab 4.


49. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Knitting. I like to think that I'm good at all the things I try to do.

50. WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU BORN? February 24, 1976. Valparaiso, IN.

On other fronts, dinner on Friday night was great. It was nice for everyone I hang out with to see my family, and vice versa. We went to Hibachi Japan, which is a Japanese grill kind of place where they cook your food in front of you. I think out of everyone, Liam enjoyed the experience the most. What is it about kids that they know when they're "on." All the world's a stage, so the saying goes. My kids have this thing that when they know people are watching them or they feel on the spot, they like to throw themselves on the floor. Like, oops, gravity suddenly just got overwhelming, and I couldn't fight it anymore. Quite dramatic. So in line while we're waiting for our table, the boys were taking turns throwing themselves on the floor. Jonah between my legs, and Liam at his dad's feet. Luckily, my friends thought it was funny (the desired outcome the boys were intending, I'm sure), and no one got hurt.

When we got our table, I made a point of explaining to the kids that the chefs would be lighting things on fire. They usually do an onion volcano that they set ablaze, and they also spray oil on the grill and light it up when they first get started. It made quite the impression when they actually did it at our table. Liam was hesitant to try the crispy noodle soup, but once he did, he decided he really liked it. Jonah also loved the soup, and that was about all he would eat. Everything else had been cooked in soy sauce, and he decided he didn't like it, and would spit it back out onto his plate after a few chews. What he did like was the food tossing. The chef takes small bites of chicken and puts it on his spatula and then tosses it for the diners to catch in their open mouths. Everyone at the table took a turn. No one managed to catch. I think the chef was a bad tosser, personally. Jonah didn't get a chance, and he was quite disappointed. He pulled a piece of chicken off his plate, got down from his chair and started wandering off with it. When I asked him where he was going, he says, "Need to find the man so he can throw chicken at me." So I asked the chef to toss a piece of chicken for Jonah. Jonah climbed up in his chair, put his elbows on the table, and opened his mouth as widely as humanly possible. Definitely a Kodak moment, but I didn't have my camera. The chef tossed the chicken over Jonah's head, so he couldn't have caught even if he wanted to, but Jonah seemed happy that he at least got to take a turn. Liam declared that Hibachi was his new favorite restaurant on the way home, which is high rating coming from him.

Speaking of Liam, he has a new toy. In our quest to get the house clean and organized during spring break in the shortest amount of time, I thought I'd do well to get the kids involved. The best way to get them involved is to give them tools they enjoy using (which means they really work). I have a Euro-Pro Stick Shark that was an impulse purchase from a couple of years ago. I bought it for the purpose of daily cleaning because it's small, fairly lightweight, and could be more easily hidden than my larger vacuum. It kind of got ignored mostly because it does not have a very large capacity (and considering the fur tumbleweeds we have here, it just wasn't cutting it), and I got tired of dumping out the cup and cleaning it before the next use. I guess I'm a bag kind of girl. So it's been languishing in the utility room for a long time.

I had an epiphany and got the Stick Shark out yesterday after telling Liam he could have it as his very own vacuum cleaner. It's the perfect size for him, and it has a telescoping handle on it so we can adjust the size as he grows. It also has a detachable hose with a small crevice tool and dust brush. When I told him he could have it, you'd think that I'd just given him the winning Powerball ticket. He couldn't wait to start vacuuming, which helped, since before he was only bent on getting to the point where he could mop. Now he wants to vacuum so he can mop. He's been having a ball emptying the cup on it and switching it from the floor nozzle to the hose and back. As my mom said, "his first power tool."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Break dance

Happy, happy! Joy, joy! I survived! I am officially on Spring Break until April 2. Well, the 1st anyway, since I have a practice MCAT on the 1st. But a whole week! With nothing to do! Ok...maybe only a bazillion things, but hey, I won't have to get up at 6 am unless I want to. Or do any lab reports. Unless maybe I want to get a head start on the one that's due the Tuesday after break. Oh, and study for that test that's the Thursday back from break. Oh, or do the taxes that are due next month. Oh, and do the spring cleaning, it summer break yet?

This week was a bit on the rough side to say the least. Liam started coming down with a cold on Tuesday, and he missed school yesterday and today, and likely again tomorrow. I had an organic test on Monday that I'm not sure how I did on. I had a lab report due Tuesday that was hugely confusing, but luckily he pushed back the due date until today, and I managed to finish it in a somewhat coherent (moreso than this post!) manner. The lab we did on Tuesday didn't work (no one's did, so I can't feel too bad), and I forgot to measure the weight of my initial product, so the next lab report is gonna be a peach to write.

Some knitting did get done this week, and we had our first Stitch n Bitch on campus Wednesday. The gal that is helping run it is super cool, and I enjoy hanging out with her. Unfortunately, our enjoyment was cut short by a strange old man who decided to make our area near the fireplace his naptime spot. He must work at the university, but I can't figure out if he just shows up early and loiters or if he stays late and loiters or if he loiters on the job. Regardless, he was hanging out and obviously not doing any work. He curled up against the wall next to where we had been sitting before looking something up on the computers. That's not such a big deal. If he wants to try to sleep while we gals chat about yarn and gauge and patterns, then be my guest. It was when I noticed that he had decided to take his shoes off that I had to protest. Dude was wearing no socks. Not such a huge deal, except for the dead animal smell coming from his hoofers. Ugh. Had the nastiest feet I have ever seen (smelled) in my life. I came back to sit down from the computer and didn't notice the guy laying there. Sat down in my chair and thought, ooh...did I forget the deo this morning. Sniff, sniff. No, way to foul to be that...hmmm...people who sit on this chair must have really bad b.o. No...can't be that, since I didn't notice it when I sat down originally. Then I spied the source. What do you do? Do you wake the guy up to tell him how foul his feet smell and ask him to put his shoes on? Grin and bear it? Hope that other people who come to sit near don't think it's you? Which I did, by the way. A cute couple came and sat on the couch across from us, and I swear, I wish I'd had video to capture the expressions. I gave them the "It's not me" look you give when someone else toots. It could have been a gag on Candid Camera. The girl looked at Scary Guy sleeping against the wall...then realized it was he who made the stink. Priceless. Given the shortage of seating where we were, none of us moved to another spot. Sad. Fella finally woke up at one point and walked across the cafe to get a newspaper...shoeless...taking his trail of stink with him like PigPen's dust cloud follows him.

Anyway, back to knitting...I have one of the purses for the school auction mostly done and will cast on for the other as soon as I finish the next bear that I'm working on. Tallulah turned out so well that I couldn't wait to cast on for another. I wanted to do it in fuzzy yarn (Lion Brand fun fur), and I'm nearly finished with it. Just need to finish the first arm, cast on the second, sew and stuff, and add the facial features. Sounds like a lot more than it really is. So far, one bear is taking the better part of a skein of fun fur. If I like how this one turns out, I can do "Crayola" type bears (I'll have to find my crayola bear to show you) in red and blue. Fun, fun!

The bears are great because they are such a stash-buster. I'm trying to clear out my stash as much as I can before giving in to the urge to buy any more yarn. I have so many things I want to knit right now and just not enough time to do them all!! I need to prioritize and start making lists of things!

Tiger says this is his bear. Any bear that is as fuzzy as he is must belong to him.

A little closer look. This bear is going to be fluffy. And soft. Flocculent even.

And to close, I give you sunrise porn (since I don't have any yarn porn to show tonight, not that I didn't look at some earlier. Kidsilk haze....drool...). This picture was taken at 6 am as I left for the university Tuesday morning. That's right. 6 am. I had to work on my lab report before class, so I got up extra early so I could have time to work on it. Fifteen minutes after I took this picture, I left, and it had clouded over and gone gray. I happened to be at the right place at the right time. I love how the coulds are hot pink against the purple blue of the morning sky.

Tomorrow's Friday! We have plans to meet one of my classmates for dinner for her birthday. Should be fun.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Going to Jamaica!

We packed Tallulah up this morning to be sent to Jamaica by way of Virginia. Liam drew a few pictures, and we made an envelope to send them in. I also took a couple pictures of the kids to print and put in the envelope along with a letter. I should have taken a picture of the letter so you all could read it. Very sweet. I wrote it so it was legible, but Liam put together the words. Pretty much says: Hi.. I'm Liam...this is Tallulah...hope you like her...We're from Ohio...We have three cats...their names are...p.s. I'm 5 years old.

Liam drew his house, his bicycle, his TV, and put a message on the picture about how he likes his bike and his tv. He signed his name on the letter, and we folded everything up and put it in the envelope with Liam's picture to be put in the box with Tallulah. She says she's not happy about being put in a dark box for a few days, but we assured her that it would be a short time.

She'll go out in the mail tomorrow, and we wish her the best on her journey!

Saturday, March 18, 2006


I've been working on a project for a couple of days now (started Thursday, ignored Friday, finished this evening), and I've finally got a finished project to show for it.

Meet Tallulah:

As you may or may not know, I'm a bit of a blog addict (see sidebar for a sampling of my favorites). I have a list of several that I read on a daily basis. All of them are women I have come to admire. They have mad skills in so many areas, and they never fail to lay it on the line for a good cause. Wendy, who does amazing fair isle (colorwork) and has the most beautiful sealpoint kitty, posted about some bears she'd knit to send to another blogger Phyl, who is collecting bears to give to Mary at the Bay Window (which is a yarn shop, I am assuming) in Virginia. Apparently, Mary's son is in the Peace Corps in Jamaica. The children there are frequently very poor and have nothing, and most certainly no real toys. They started a bear drive by providing their patrons with the pattern, and the customers knit the bears and send them back to the shop. When Mary goes to visit at the end of March/beginning of April, she is taking all the bears with her and will be giving them to children at orphanages and schools. Through Phyl's blog, a local bear drive has become a national project.

Phyl commented on how hearing about the children touched her, and she couldn't wait to get started on a bear. She posted the pattern, and, as happens in the blog world, word has spread. After seeing the post on Wendy's page and seeing her bears finished, I knew I really wanted to knit one to donate, though I almost missed out (I almost didn't find out about this until too late!). I can remember as a little girl that my stuffed bears were always a favorite. I had a jointed bear that I dressed like a baby, and I still have a tiny bear (that now is noseless) that was a cuddlefriend since I was a baby myself. My husband (and anyone else who knows me closely) knows of my fetish for Boyd's bears, and decided I would download the pattern and make one to send.

So I told Liam about this project, and how the bear that I knit was going to go to a child in another country who had no toys and how the children were very poor, and some had no real houses to live in and very little food to eat. Liam, bless his big heart, looks at me and says, "Mom...come closer....I need to tell you a secret." Of course, I tipped my head toward his to hear what he had to say. In a hush he says, "Mom...what if we talked to Daddy, and he could talk to his friends at NASA, and we could go there and build the children some real houses." Needless to say, it brought tears to my eyes (makes me glossy just thinking about how sweet he said it and without a bit of hesitation). I had to tell him that going down there to build houses might not be possible, but that we could do other things, and that he could help me package up the bear to send to Jamaica. He brainstormed all the things he could put in the box with the bear. I'm sure he'll have a list of things when it comes time to pack Tallulah up tomorrow!

I named her Tallulah because her colors are definitely feminine, and she needed a name befitting her palette. We're so ready for spring here that I wanted her name to reflect the coming season, and Tulip was the first thing that popped in my head. I didn't think the name fit her well, but Tallulah, well, I think that's just perfect.

So here are the details:
Pattern: Bay Window Bear (available in .doc format on her site)
Yarn: Reynolds Utopia in Brown (leftover from making punkin hats 2 years ago) and two shades of heathered pinks in Lion Brand Wool-ease (also a stash buster!). I didn't use much yarn at all, and I still have enough left that I could make a copycat in the same color scheme for Liam.
Needles: Size 7 metal DPN's (gotta get me some bamboo!)
Deviations from pattern: I followed the pattern pretty much to the T, except that I took the liberty of forming a snout by also doing a running stitch around the face and pulling to form a pucker. I wanted her to have a profile, and I think she turned out just splendidly.
What would I do the same/different: I will be making more of these since it was such a fast and easy knit. There are just so many options for variation that it makes me giddy just to think about it!! I think I'll keep the face shaping that I added, as I think it makes them look polished.

Tallulah has already made fast friends with Ms. Potato Head. I think there may be some separation anxiety for her when it comes time to make her trip south, but I'm sure she'll get over it once she meets her new owner. I think we will send a letter and a picture so the child who gets the bear knows that it came from another child who sends good wishes.

As an aside, Jonah officially turned 2 1/2 today! Time flies when you're tearin' the joint up! He spent the day whirling his way about and playing with Liam. It's amazing to me that he's only 2 1/2, as he keeps up with Liam pretty well most days.

I have a boatload of studying to do tomorrow for another exam on Monday. Joy!

Funny quote of the day

Liam: "Moooom!!! Jonah's writing on daddy's computer desk with pregnant marker!!!

Longer post later...

Monday, March 13, 2006

Yes, I do still knit!

I haven't posted much recently of my knitting. Mostly because there hasn't been much. I take my knitting to Kaplan and work on it while I learn. I don't have to do too much writing in there, so it works well. It's just hard to get very far on ribbing in this way. I think I get the most done on the days I have the full length test, as I have time where I'm waiting for the next section to start and have nothing else to do. I haven't been knitting at home at all because of fatigue or other things going on, so school is about the only place I get a row or two in these days.

With Liam's auction fast approaching and the blossom fairies not being very portable, I decided to pick up another project or two that I could put on the needles and take with me.

Yet another Booga Bag in Noro #ihavenoidea. I bought another 3 skeins in a different colorway to make second bag. I'm planning on finishing them similarly to the one I made for myself (which I have been carrying and using lovingly, I might add) for donation to the auction. This one is just over halfway done if you don't count the pockets. The color in the top picture is closest to the true color. This colorway is similar to the one I used for my bag, but it has more hot pink and less of the blue. I don't think the second skein I just started has the blue in it at all (disappointing, since I love the blue). The green in this colorway is also a deeper green. I can hardly wait to finish this one and do the next colorway. Pics when I get that one cast on. In addition to these, if I had time, I'd whip up another lace scarf like the one I did for my SIL, but wish in one hand and spit in the other and see which gets fuller faster.

I do have progress on the cardi to show. I've cast on both sleeves at the same time so they'll finish at the same time, and then I can get it seamed up since everything else is pretty well finished. I'm ready to be done with it, not because it's an unenjoyable project (actually, I love this pattern and have had fun doing it), but because I'd like hubby to get some use out of the sweater before Mother Nature makes up her mind what she wants to do. Anyway, I'm about up to the elbow on the length of the sleeves. I keep saying that hopefully I'll finish it this weekend, and that has yet to happen. But again, hopefully I'll finish it this weekend!

Also...on the ankle's still fairly swollen, but it seems to be getting a little better each day. I managed to put in 40 minutes on the bike this morning, and it felt pretty good. Lateral motion is still not happening, but my range of motion seems to be improving a little bit each day. It would help if I could find more time to ice. Oh well...

The front has gone through, and the winds have picked up (they're howling out there!). Sundae (cat) says this weather licks her fanny almost as much as she does. Bailey (dog) is agreeing with her 100%.

Mother Nature's a hussy...

Yup, she definitely is a tease. We're enjoying the last day of our springtime weather today. Temps are expected to get to the low 70s. Ahh...I even sent Liam off to school today with only a spring jacket and rainpants. Snow tomorrow and back into the 30s for the foreseeable future.

The kids had a blast this morning in the meadow at school. With all the rain we've had, there was a small creek forming at the farthest part of the meadow. Neither of the kids had their rain boots this morning (they were all at Grandma's), and they had their snow boots on instead. Great for keeping out the snow...not so great for keeping out shin deep water.

The creek flowed across the back of the meadow and down to a large drain near their bridge. The children had figured out that removing a small dam of debris that had built up made the creek flow faster, so they were working hard at keeping everything clear. Jonah was in heaven. I should have named him Guppy. He was doing his best to help with short stick in hand, and he did plenty of puddle jumping (and some just plain falling in the water). I had to take his rain pants and boots off of him before getting him in the car, as he was soaked. When I pulled his boots off, half the stream came out. Surprisingly, the only parts of him that were really wet were the bottoms of his sweats where the rain pants had bunched up and his socks and boots. The rest of his raingear was wet on the outside, but it did it's job of keeping him pretty dry. Yay!

We broke out the mops last night and did some work in the living room. Liam must have asked every 10 minutes all day if it was time to mop yet. The boys had way too much fun mopping and wringing out the water in the bucket. Well worth the money spent, and the floor looks much better for it! Now I just need to declutter all the office junk, and the front room will look so much better!

The looks on the boy's faces in the pictures crack me up. They were having such fun, but you can't tell it by their expressions in the pictures. The annoyed looks were actually about my telling them to stop long enough for me to snap a picture. "Mom...we're working..."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Playing hookey

I have so many things I need to get done today. Laundry and cleaning are paramount among them. I bought a few things yesterday for the kids so they can help out. Part of the Waldorf philosophy is that play is the work of children. Children love to imitate grown up "work" and won't see it as such unless someone tells them it is not fun. Since I want my kids to not see chores as work for as long as possible, we're going to do all we can to foster the opposite. Waldorf educators also recommend that children have tools that they can use that are appropriate for their size and that do real work, rather than pretend ones that don't. Some of the natural toy catalogs have stuff, but I didn't feel like ordering online, so I thought I'd try to put together my own stuff for them. Little Red Wagon toys had child-size real mops, so I did pick up two of those, but the rest of the stuff I put together.

I found two scrub brushes that had short, adjustable length handles on them. The handles screwed off the brushes, so I figured when they weren't being used for scrubbing, the handles could get screwed to other things to make them the right height for little people. All the things in this picture have handles that can be exchanged for the shorter ones.

I got two of most things to decrease the amount of fighting. I also labeled everything with names, so the boys know what belongs to whom. In total, I got a bucket with a wringer for the mops, two wash pans for doing dishes or whatever, a microfiber dust mop, two small brooms, two handheld mini-brooms with dustpans, and the two scrubbers with extendable handles. When I brought them home, you'd've thought I was handing out golden tickets. The mops were the biggest hit. The boys can't wait to mop the floor. I'm sure it has to do with making a wet mess.

Here's the wringing bucket up close (and the dish pans in the background), and the two mops.

Instead of mopping today, we actually went outside. It was in the upper 50s this morning, so the kids put on their rain pants and went out with me. My car has been in desperate need of an enema, so I cleaned out the car while they rode their bikes. Happy, happy boys. The back yard is far too swampy to play in right now, but once the grass really starts to get growing this spring, we're going to get this.

It was so nice to be outside and not have to be bundled. And the best part? I have flowers blooming! My crocuses are up and are starting to bloom. All of my spring bulbs have pushed up leaves, and one of my daffodils has a bud on it. Ah, spring....I can almost smell it! I didn't get any pictures of the boys on their bikes. I was too busy trying to keep Jonah from tanking on his tricycle. He refuses to put his feet on the pedals to propel the bike. His method instead is to treat the trike as a scooter and use his feet on the ground to push. All fine and dandy unless he's going down hill and the pedals catch his feet. Needless to say, both boys were wearing helmets.

Liam was insistent that I take a picture of him while I was trying to snap pictures of the cleaning tools. He got his hair cut yesterday at grandma's stylist, so he's got a new do to show off.