Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pics for post below

Merry Christmas

Christmas is coming wicked fast (as we say around here). I was way far ahead and now I'm way far behind - how did that happen? At least I've managed to finish the one gotta present - a mistake rib scarf with a ruffled edge and an unoriginal hat (yarn harlot pattern.) The yarn is Webs Valley - very nice to work with. Two for the scarf, one for the hat.

The knitted crock will likely have to wait a bit longer. I have a backup present ready to go just in case.

I would dearly, dearly love to finish a lace scarf I've been working on, but with each row taking 90 minutes, it's unlikely.

Hope your fingers are flying and that you're having fun!

(pic to follow if I can talk blogger into it!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

note to self about home made coffee mocha

Note to self (and anyone else who likes chocolate coffee): It is not a good idea to put a packet of hot chocolate mix in with the coffee grounds while brewing coffee. It does work out wonderfully well, however, to put said mix in the coffee pot.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Christams Season has begun

For us, Christmas unofficially begins after Halloween and with the the official launch on the day after Thanksgiving. It's just too big of a holiday for one day. Above is what Massachusetts looked like this morning. One day we had record warm temperatures and the next day it was snowing. It's amazing how exciting a little bit of snow can be for a couple of little girls who are already jazzed up about Christmas. This is our Christmas tree - or at least it might be in a few years. As it was, we went to a place where we could cut our own only to find that the place had been over cut and they had to ship in trees from other farms! They had them all propped up and you got to walk around holding a saw as if you were going to cut one down. They even had a tractor that would give you rides as if you were going to the fields where you would cut the tree. They're growing trees as fast as they can and hopefully they'll have more soon. Now, on to the celebrating....

Monday, November 30, 2009

the happy dance is being done

I never really doubted that I could crank out a 50,000 word novel in a month but there were many times when I felt pretty lost in the middle of it. I pushed my own creative limits choosing subjects that are on the outskirts of my comfort zone - a male main character and a fairy god mother. It was fun getting to know them although there were times when I felt like we were treading water in some fairly boring territory. What's good about the deadline is that you have to push on whether or not you like what you're writing at the moment. It would otherwise be tempting to stop and wait for some bolt of inspiration that might not ever come. What this proves to me yet again, is that mountains can be climbed. Given our lives, completing a novel like this is nearly impossible, but I have the support of a great husband and a little cheering section in the form of two little girls who like to fall asleep on the bed next to me while I write.

My other lesson is this - that sometimes you just don't know where you are going until you get there. You may feel lost and like you are never going to arrive at a destination and then suddenly you are there and all the pieces make sense. That's how I felt at the end of the book. I felt for much of it that I was just wandering aimlessly, trying to force the story in some direction, but it didn't entirely make sense until the end when it all came together.

Now what happens? I hope that I go back and edit this and smooth out the rough parts and turn it into something that might actually amuse and interest someone other than my mother, who is obligated to love anything I write.

My husband and family will be happy to have my attention back and just in time for Christmas. We've started the shopping and I've even started the knitting believe it or not! I have a scarf finished and half a crocodile. I love a deadline as much as the next person, but I'm not going to go over board. I want to finish the croc and make two scarves. If there's time, I'll add in a pair of half mits for my God daughter. I'm hoping that since they're in stores everywhere, she'll consider them fashionable instead of just an oddity.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

amazing pompoms

I found a great quick-arts-and-crafts fix that can not only use up stash, but also make for cute floral arrangements, wreaths or package toppers: pompom flowers.
This one was made from using a tutorial at Blue Bird's Blog. The link will take you to her pompom wreath and off that is the tutorial for making great pompoms. I've tried several methods, including store bought plastic templates and this was the first time I was actually pleased with the result.
These could be almost as much fun as googly eyes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

garter stitch fabulous

My friend Allison found this pattern last year. At first when she described it to me, I got confused and knit the stripes vertically. It came out really cool but with a bus load of ends to weave in. Plus, the stripes took forever. Okay, not really because I did finish that hat - it just seemed like the project was endless.
After that, I got it in my head that I'd like to try the original pattern only in all pinks instead of the multi-colors in the pattern. I had a bunch of pink scraps and it's for a little girl who loves pink. The original pattern is much faster and still way cool. The flowers are crocheted with buttons sewn in the middle.
The only "problem" is thay my girls like it so much that they want one too but I used up most of my pink scraps! I think it's too funny that I might actually go and purchase yarn to make a hat that's so great for using up bits of stash.
The knitting has slowed down around here this month since I've once again taken up the Nanowrimo challenge to write a novel in a month. This one is about a low level ad exec living a completely boring life and the flawed fairy god mother sent to save him. Sometimes what I write makes even me laugh some of it I'm sure is the most boring prose ever. So far, however, I want to see how it turns out badly enough to keep writing.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Is it possible to get a tight enough hat band using a three and one ribbing - ie knitting three stitches and purling 1? I'm trying to figure out if I
a. have too many stitches
b. need smaller needles or
c. need to give up on the idea of a 3-1 ribbing since it won't ever be tight enough.

I actually undid three hours of knitting because the hat was on track to be too loose. As much as it troubled me to frog, I knew it would bother me every time I wore the hat - if I ever wore it - if I didn't. Besides, the fair aisle I was trying out wasn't showing up as much as I would have liked anyway.

Maybe I should swatch? Now that's just a radical thought!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Angel Made Me Do It

I gave up dressing for Halloween years before had kids. Nothing against it, just too self conscious really. But when the sweet blue eyed wonder turned those sweet blue eyes on me and asked if I would please, please be a devil for her angel, how could I resist?

The problem was that the devil wasn't as popular this year as say Kate Gosselin. Then she got sick and I thought I was off the hook. Then she had a miraculous recovery. I had less than a day and no time to run around in search of a costume. Thankfully, I've been hovering on the blogs of some creative people, who must have sent out some creative fairy dust or something. As I was in the target, it suddenly occurred to me that I had all I needed for a costume right there in the little girl's stocking aisle. Cut off the legs for a tail, sew horns on what's left. I even made half-mits out of what I didn't use for the tail. (They were absconded by a little trick or treater by the time this pic was taken.) Now if I had truly thought ahead, I could have knit my horns, but that would have been asking for just a little too much planning on my part!

The wings and halo are from Jo Ann Fabrics. The dress is a nightgown that almost wasn't. I bought the fabric during an optimistic fit of high hopes. As always, my sense of what can be accomplished in a given period of time is far removed what can actually be accomplished in that given period of time. Adding to the fun, we could only find the sleeve portion of the pattern my mom loaned me. Thankfully, I'm just crazy enough to have tried pattern making so I was able to piece together the rest. According to my little angel, it is "exactly" what she had in mind. As you can see, it's about perfect for chasing Luke Skywalker around the park.

As an aside - I noticed that Target was selling a large selection of half mits. Nothing as good as what we make, of course, but at least they are growing in popularity making that a potentially great (and easy) gift.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

If recent weather is any indication, we'll have a cold Halloween here in New England. I wanted to make sure my little Tinker Bell is ready. I've been saving this handspun yarn from my friend Lisa for a very special project. It matches the costume perfectly. And coincedently, it also matches our favorite bear - Binky Blue. She is so named since she contains the girl's binks (aka pacifiers). Knitting to accomodate ears is a little tricky - but not too bad thankfully. I suspect that the bear will actually wear her version more than the girl. The girl likes to walk out of the house with hats on, but she seems to have something against keeping them on! This one, however, is wonderfully soft so maybe...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What The?

This is thing that sort of looks like a crocodile carcas is -- indeed -- a crocodile carcas, ala the Twist Collective (thanks Allison). I started it in July. Yes, July. I thought it would take a couple of weeks and I could hand it over to my young nephew. Silly me. It's now on it's way to becoming a Christmas present.

This is the blocked body ready for stuffing before finishing off the head. Just don't look too closely at the short rows - they were a total disaster. I even practiced on scrap yarn and I can't seem to get rid of the holes. I've tried several methods and it's still a problem. I may need to go in to a shop for remedial help. I managed to sew them up well enough to hold the stuffing in. I don't think the recipient will notice - he's not much of a knitter after all.

What's left is the nose, kitchnering, four legs and a hoodie. I'm thinking maybe a matching hat for the boy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Ruby

The child - if at 16 she can be called that - requested a Teletubby cake for her birthday. It's actually the third (fourth?) year for the request. I had no more luck finding Teletubbies this year than any other. Maybe I could have looked on line but I swear her birthday came out of the blue. One day she was turning 15 and the next she was turning 16. Poof. Just like that. Really.

So her birthday was here and no teletubby figurines. I want ed her to be happy. It is the big 16 after all. So we drove all over town to several stores, but nothing. What to do? What to do?

And then a little voice in the back of my head whispered a reminder of a long-forgotten craft: Shrinky Dinks! Why didn't I think of this before? The incredible shrinking toy. Color, cut, bake and play. What could be better? From big to little in under 3 minutes. So much fun.

Also, great project for little sisters to help out with. They were so proud of the cake - or at least their contribution.
The cake itself is supposed to be the Teletubby house. It is not, I freely admit, the prettiest of cakes. I certainly won't be lining up for a job in the bakery any time soon. But I think I get points for creativity.
I'm not sure, however, it will satisfy the longing for a teletubby cake since it's not the one she wanted...hmmm....should I go on line now?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Birthday to DS

It might be easier to decorate a cake if I could give it some thought at least a few days rather than a few hours before it has to be done - but that's someone else's life! Mine is speeding along at a breath taking pace and so we improvise a lot. I got the idea for a football cake and discovered via the internet that there are plenty of cute football related items for a cake, but of course I had no time for ordering them. Off to Michaels. There are figurines playing golf, soccer and baseball but not football. So, we headed to the scrapbooking aisle for the next best thing. I think he liked it - as much as any 15 year old likes a cake his mom made anyway...
Next up is the 16 yo who wants Teletubbies - and you thought football players were hard to find!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Birthday to DH

October is our birthday month, which means way, way too much cake. (is there really such a thing?) So, this year, we decided to kick off the season with a birthday pie - apple to be exact. And not just any pie, but one made with the special help of a delighted 4 yo who said, "When I get big and I'm a mumma, I'm going to bake apple pie." That made it all worth the effort. The big grin on DH's face when he saw his present was just icing on the pie. We used the miracle baking powder crust recipe from allrecipes.com except that we used butter instead of shortening because we didn't have any shortening. Also, we didn't refrigerate it because we didn't have any time. The real miracle was that I actually made a pie crust since that's something I hate doing since I always have such problems with it. I come from a long line of excellent pie making bakers but the excellent pie gene seems to have skipped me. (It could just be that I need more practice.) Honestly, I would have bought the crust, but the store had none.
A note of caution - we learned the hard way that hot apple pie melts birthday candles quicker than you can blow them out. Thankfully, give DH's "advanced" age, we used just one.

Monday, October 12, 2009

spoiler alert for grandparents

I have come to the conclusion that crafting is something that can not be denied. It builds like a fever and the only way to quench the burning thirst is to craft. And the longer you wait, the more crafting you will be compelled to do. And so we had a crafting explosion this week fueled by my discovery of bloggers making incredibly cute and creative things from neglected treasures at the dollar store.

We love Dollar Tree. Everything there is less than a dollar. Yes, everything. It's a kid's nirvana.

Most of what I made is cribbed from other bloggers with original twists inspired by the imaginations of the 4 yo, 7 yo and an extra 7 yo who has a particular penchant for crafting. There was one sort original craft, however. It's Halloween Cards!

We found these very cute paper gift bags at the store and now that my eyes have been opened to thinking about things for uses other than what they were intended, we did just that. We cut out the great pictures, attached them to heavy paper and added googly eyes. It's perfect for a note to go with the specially designed original picture frames we're sending to the grandparents (see below). We coated them with a glossy varnish, but that step could be skipped.

We have fallen in love with googly eyes. It started with a frame by Swell Life. Once freed from the idea that you should use just two to fill in as eyes on a drawing, we were off to the races putting them on everything and anything that didn't move too fast. (The dog wisely went upstairs)

The eyes started the frame frenzy. We went from eyes to glitter glue and eyes to paint. Those are poka dots. We figured that would be a little more fall for grandparents who might like to keep them out past the upcoming holiday.

Once we started, we just couldn't stop. This bowl of bones is a take off from another decorating idea.

There were some great terrarium ideas with moss and other fancy items, but we live near a beach and we're frugal. Our version uses only things found on the beach, except for the skeleton and the spider (dollar store).

Next came the wreath. The one I saw was a lovely feather and fancy ball version. We were going in that direction when I found a pre-made black wreath at Michael's for 40 percent off. It's embellished with plastic party favors from (can you guess?) Dollar Tree!

There's more, believe it or not. We found these two great pumpkin stands at Target on sale after Halloween last year. I didn't want to use them for the pumpkins because I feared they would roll off. We were going to get the fake pumpkins, but they were $10 each on sale. At the dollar store, we found black buckets and fabulous masks. (Notice the googly eyes on the witch?) $4 total.

True confessions - after all was said and done, we had a great time and ended up with lots and lots of stuff while keeping busy for an entire three-day weekend, but in total it wasn't exactly cheap. Even at $1 a pop, things add up more quickly than one would expect. Add in a few $4 and $5 items from Michaels and pretty soon, we're talking big bucks. Still less expensive than department store, however, and way more fun.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I'm in that phase of week (okay that phase of life) when I have not nearly enough time to try all the crafts I'd like, so I've been living vicariously. For those of you who appreciate creativity, check out the swell designer, who is doing a 24 crafts in 24 hours. There are some unbelievably great ideas.

And in the really appreciating creativity realm - check out dollar store crafts. I guarantee you will never look at a dollar store the same way again. I have long appreciated the dollar store for kitchy kid birthday favors and such but my mind is blown by the possibilities. I am in awe of the people who walked down the aisles and saw treasure where I saw junk. I can hardly wait to go to the store and try my hand at it - if I can ever find the time!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

boring, not crazy or wise beyond imagination

It's October and that means just one thing for parents of enthusiastic tots in America: Halloween is coming. Plans must be made.
Costumes must be chosen.
So we trucked off to the fabric store, the 4yo and I, in search of black and red material to make a cape so that she could be the cutest vampire ever.

Then something happened on the way to the bolts of velvet and satin - we passed through an aisle of (gasp) ready-made costumes. Before I could say "shield thy eyes from the evil ways of marketing my child," she had grabbed a tinkerbell costume off the rack and began dancing around with that gleam in her eye - that "my life will be perfect and sunshine will last eternally if you buy me this," look.

All is not lost, however. We're in a fabric store - surrounded by patterns and gorgeous fabric. I turn my attention from black to green. Never mind cheaply made (but not cheap) ready made, I can create the best most wonderful Tinker Bell outfit ever. After all, I've been watching Project Runway - that practically makes me a designer.

So we page through the books and we stroll down the aisles looking at the brocades, the satins, the tulle and I dream of what could be. All the while, she dreams of what already is - namely a soft velvety dress with curly green wings and a shiny wand with a star.

She grows impatient as I pile up the bolts in the cart and puzzle over math in my head. This subject isn't my strong suit but I am competent enough to realize that as the yards add up, so does the bill. Soon, I'm approaching the price of the costume even with a 40 percent off coupon for the $15 pattern.

There is the priceless satisfaction of seeing my child running around in something I made and being able to boast that it is my creation to be considered. There is the amusement and thrill of trying to make a deadline and blogging about how crazy it is to try to get everything all done.
But then there's also the often under appreciated peace of not having way too many projects on the books. Breathing room? A schedule that isn't overstuffed? The ability to spontaneously do some fun activity because I don't have to run upstairs to cut/sew/baste? Huh. What a concept.

Boring? Perhaps. Wise? Maybe.

Regardless, last night she was running around in her costume instead of dragging around a bag of material. She was happy. So happy that she has asked to wear the costume night and day until Halloween comes. As for me, I happily said yes - lets get our money's worth out of it. I'll turn my attention to something longer lasting like maybe a knitted pixie hat?

The other pics were taken while pumpkin picking over the weekend. Despite all the news about what a poor year it was for pumpkins, there seemed to be plenty on the farm. Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

I'm lost...oh so so lost

This is my oldest UFO. I started it long, long ago. I discovered the pattern through a KAL started by Anna from France, who became a dear friend and showed me all around Paris. I remember knitting on it when the 3yo was still a wee one in diapers. It seemed back then that each row took forever and I didn't really get what was going on. That was yards and yards and yards of lace ago. I have since then learned a tremendous amount about how lace works and why patterns do what they do. Consequently, I had high hopes that the project would be easy to pick up even though it had been months and months and the paper on which I'd been keeping track of what I was doing had disappeared.
Thankfully, I had the pattern saved on my computer. I highly recommend keeping multiple copies of any pattern you like. I've learned this the hard way (I once watched helplessly as a pattern fly out the window when I was knitting in a topless Jeep on the highway).
So, I sat down confidently with my newly printed pattern and the North Roe shawl and I looked at the knitting and I looked at the pattern and I looked at the knitting and I looked at the pattern and after repeating that several times I came to the sinking realization that I had no clue where I was. I finally figured out which row it was sort of. The problem is that the rows sort of repeat within the chart. Eventually I was able to narrow it down.

But that's when the trouble started. The chart is supposed to be repeated 4 to 6 times depending on how big you want the shawl. I had no clue how many times I'd already repeated it having lost that valuable piece of paper on which I had kept track.
Grumble grumble grumble
I started knitting and kept pondering about how to figure it out. I did eventually - once I'd repeated the chart seven times. I'm not going back. I don't care if this shawl is big enough for the Paul Bunyan. There is simply too much mohair in the yarn to frog.
I finally made it to the second of three charts. I did something drastically wrong on the second row that I discovered on the fourth row. Like I said, however, too much mohair for frogging and the thing is way too big for tinking. And so, I dropped stitches back to the problem and tried as much as possible to fix it by picking up stitches. I now have the correct number although I am a little concerned about how it will look when it's blocked. Maybe everyone will be so dazzled by the color they won't notice.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

5 minutes to dash out the door delicious dinner

I realized very, very shortly before I had to leave for a meeting this morning that I was going to be gone all day and I didn't want to have to leave the park early just to cook dinner. This is when the slow cooker is supposed to shine, right? Excpet that it was very, very shortly as in ten minutes or less.

At least the roast was defrosted, but I had neither the onion soup mix or the can of cream of mushroom soup that my successful roast recipe called for. It basically came down to deciding I would just order pizza or forge out on my own. Here's what I came up with:

1 roast labeled "for slow cooking" (or other cut of meat)
2 cups of beef broth (made from beef bouillion cube)
1 teaspoon oregno
1 teaspoon thyme (I used a few sprigs of fresh 'cause that's all I had)
2 bay leaves (go figure - I've got bay leaves, but no Thyme?)
3 tablespoons worcester sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar would likely work just as well or red wine)
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 onion cut into pieces
a bunch of carrots (I used baby carrots, but chopped grown up carrots would work)
4 potatoes (add a couple more if you have them)
Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours (probably would be okay to do high for 4 hours)
I used the extra sauce to make a gravy thickened with cornstarch. It was fine but I don't recommend it. I think next time I'll try flour and butter to thicken.

I don't like beef generally - but I loved this meal! I even liked the carrots and I really, really don't like cooked carrots. More importantly - both the 4 and 7 year old liked it. The 4yo even asked for more, which is (you'll have to trust me on this) amazing.

Here are a few pics of the Ulmus being blocked. (not the day I'd pledged to do it, but shortly after that) Much to my surprise, it grew as much as
I'd hoped - happy dance. It's even cold enough that I really need it. Now I just have to figure out how to wear it! Pics of it in action are coming.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Months ago, I launched into the Ulmus with vain hopes of having it done early in the summer to use as a light wrap. It certainly would have gotten plenty of use. But it just took a whole lot longer than I anticipated. In the time it's taken me to finish the one, others have made two or three. I can only dream of being that speedy.

But done it is - except for blocking, which I pledge to do tomorrow. I hope blocking will make it bigger since even though I did the big size, it seems a tad tiny. I love this pattern. It's challenging enough to be interesting without being overwhelming. The only hard part, as with all shawls of this style, is that you are constantly adding stitches so the rows get longer and longer. It goes really fast at first and then slows to a crawl.

The yarns are hand dyed bought in CT. Because the turquoise has some purple and the purple has some turquoise, they sort of blended together rather than having distinctive stripes. It creates sort of an impressionistic painting feel that I really like. I think I'd like the end stripe to be a little narrower but with 300 and some stitches on the needles, I didn't mind enough to redo it.

Now, it's time to start knitting for Christmas if I'm going to, I suppose!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sometimes I get bored

I have a confession: Sometimes, I get bored at the playground. There's only so much swinging I can take. I don't mind a trip or two down the slide, but sooner or later the little ones are off playing a no-adults allowed game and I'm left twiddling my thumbs. So, that's why I brought the camera. It was great until they got tired of me following them around.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

slow cook recipe worth trying

Finally, I found a slow cooker recipe that doesn't require a lot of pre cooking! It truly is one of those just throw it in the pot sorts. It calls for peanut butter and in my book anything that calls for peanut butter is probably good.
I didn't have salsa on hand so I subbed a can of tomato sauce, tomatos and onion. I also added extra peanut butter because I really like peanut butter.

I thought this was a great recipe and DH liked it too. I think dd 15 would have liked it but she isn't home for dinner. DDs 4 and 7 were not at all keen on it and chose to eat celery and peanut butter as a main course instead. DS who has been coming home super hungry from football wouldn't even try it. I'm trying not to take that personally.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall in New England

School has started and the trees are starting to think about putting their annual show, which means it is time for apples - lots and lots of apples.

As we forked over the bucks for an empty bag into which we put said apples, I had visions of Tom Sawyer and the white washing of the fence. "We're buying memories," says DH. They certainly are tasty memories, at least.

Don't tell that turkey that Thanksgiving is coming!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

quick escapes

I'm slammed on deadline for my grown up work this week which has meant very little time for crafting and lots of stress. My relief in times like this is to take peeks at what everyone else is doing and to live vicariously through them.

I have found a site that is worth sharing because it's like a gateway to what everyone else is doing. It is Whip Up - a collection of other crafters tutorials, book reviews and the like. Seeing what everyone else has done makes me want to spend my days doing nothing but sewing and knitting and creating gorgeous things. (I'm even thinking about making a quilt - although I suspect it's more about wanting to have a quilt than wanting to put together a kazillion little squares no matter how beaufitul the fabric.)

Beware before you go to the site - it's easy to get lost wandering from one link to the next.

Now, I MUST get back to work so that I can get enough done so I can get back to doing some actual knitting instead of just dreaming about it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Crock of Success

My children were beginning to doubt me. DH was getting ready for a big old "I told you so." But urged on by supportive friends and family, I persevered on the crock pot front, and by golly, we finally have a hit!
A BIG one. As in everyone loves this dish. As in the teenager said it's "the bomb" which is about the highest complement she has available to her at this point in life.
(Never mind that roast beef costs about four times what we normally spend on meat for dinner and that we ate nearly the whole thing so I can't really justify it saying we'll get two meals out of it.)
It's the beef roast slow cooker dinner from the Food Nanny book. I'm not sure what's more amazing - that the small kids liked it or that I did since I'm not generally a non-hamburger beef eater.
I consider this a double score because I bought it as a used book last summer while on vacation. And although I've enjoyed reading it, I had yet to actually make a recipe from it.
Not that I haven't wanted to. There many that sound absolutely delicious. I just hadn't made the leap from reading them to putting them into practice.
The book breaks thing down into themed nights, which seems like a fun way to organize dinner.
Aside from the recipes, it's a fun book to peruse. There are lots of tidbits on the background of the recipes as well as fun conversation starters.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

rain dance

I did something I thought I'd never do this morning: I ran a 5K race in the rain. Pouring rain. Buckets of heavy rain. I wasn't the only one, but there weren't a lot of us.

Here's the thing - I thought it would be awful. I thought I would hate it. I thought I'd run my worse time ever. So why did I do it? Well, when I woke up and heard the rain, I thought to myself that it was pretty comfortable where I was and that no one would hold it against me if I didn't get up. The whole day I could say, well I was going to run a race, but the rain...

Or, I could drag myself out of bed and have a much better story to tell.

The race was in Revere, along the beach that was notably empty on this particular day. It was beautiful in a stormy, full of character sort of way.

Registration was thankfully inside. We were greeted by amazingly cheerful volunteers who were wonderfully inviting even though they faced standing outside in the rain for the next hour or so. The runners were equally cheerful despite thoughts of having to run through a shower.

We were soaked from just walking across the street from the registration room to the shelter in front of the start line. While we stood there watching it rain like someone was pouring water out of a bucket, it actually started raining harder. Then came the thunder.
I admit that I almost hoped lightening would follow and they'd call of the race. But alas, no.

We lined up, the horn blew, and we were off to the race. And you know what? It wasn't that bad.

My jacket did get soaked through and clung to me like saran wrap, but the temperature was about perfect for running. It turns out that once you're completely soaked, it's not so bad. It's the getting soaked that isn't so much fun. On the way out, we ran into the wind and the pelting rain. That meant, however, that on the way back, the wind was with us helping to make up for lost time.

I expected to run slower than my usual slow pace, but as I neared the finish line, I heard DH yell to me that I could do it in under 35 minutes. In the distance, I saw 34 on the timing board. It seemed too far away to make it, but I kicked it up anyway and crossed the line at 34:53. My best time ever, rain or not.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Crock pot Days 3 and 4

Determined to figure out how to crock pot, I perserved with an Autumn Harvest recipe. The originator made it sound oh so delicious - just add a little of whatever is around, some apples, some cinnamon and voila. The only change I made was to start with uncooked rice, figuring that it would be an unrecognizable mush if I didn't.

It ended up to be the consistency of oatmeal and with the apples and cinnamon, that's what it tasted like too, except with sausage. People ate it, but that might have said more about their state of hunger than the quality of the dish. There is still quite a lot left.

Day 4 is Pizza - from a pizzeria.

This weekend I may actually buy a pot roast. Believe it or not, I have never done that before. I'm not even sure what to look for. Mom says it's labled "Pot Roast." Yeah for moms. Too bad she can't come and cook it for me too. :0

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Crock Pot Day 2

I am bound and determined to make the most out of this crock pot thingy. I don't want it to end up at the Salvation Army with the bread maker or the food dehydrater as DH has predicted.

He's been laughing at me because he says I've been doing more cooking to cook it in it than I would otherwise!

Yesterday's recipe was fiesta chicken , which received mixed reviews. DD 7 loved it. DD 4 hated it. DH thought the chicken was dry. I thought it was tasty. It might have been even better if I'd had the can of Mexican style tomatos the recipe called for instead of the plain ones, but oh well.

In reviewing recipes, I think I'm going to do a whole new grocery shop. It seems we don't naturally have on hand the ingredients necessary.

Thank you to all who've sent suggestions - I will happily be making good use of them

Monday, September 07, 2009

crock pots

After much hemming and hawing and researching, I finally bought a Crock Pot. I feel like I have reached some new level of adulthood.

The reason I have held off so long is that I don't like beef stew and my image of a crock pot is that it's best use if for beef stew. But, I've been hearing about how wonderful they are for busy families and I was intrigued by the idea of dinner cooking while I'm out running around getting all the children where they need to be.

And so now we have a crock pot.

My first recipe didn't go so well. I thought I'd impress my family with breakfast the day after I bought our new toy. Let's just say there's a reason why they say to add the cheese 15 minutes before you want to eat. And they're right when they say it should be at least half full. We awoke to a wonderful smell but the finished product didn't live up to the aroma. It was a hardened burnt unappetizing mess. We ended up eating cereal since I'd used up all the eggs.

I'm a litle dismayed to realize that food must be cooked before it can be crock potted! Is it really then a time saving device? It could still be valuable just from the stand point of moving the bulk of the cooking from just when we want to eat to earlier in the day when we have more time. Not sure, however, if it will be worth it.

Now I need recipes. Lke I said, I don't really like beef stew.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

more math

I finished a bunch more diamonds yesterday and then looked at the directions again. I did them right (whew) but only now noticed the "make bigger diamonds by casting on 38 stitches..." Doh. I forgot to add in weaving all the ends! I could have cut that in half (or at least a third) by making bigger diamonds. Oh well, I'm way too far in to it to change course now. I have finished all the yarn from one ball...

Maybe Christmas is too much to ask. Her birthday is in June...

I finally saw Slumdog Millionaire because DH saw it and insisted that I would like it. It was great. If you've been waivering - go see it.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Math uggh

One of the dangers of taking children to a yarn shop is that you will be so distracted you will end up buying more (or less) than you wanted. The other danger is that they will fill up a basket with yarns tha they can't bear to leave behind. That is how we ended up with a small bundle of pink and purple cotton yarns chosen by my dd, 4. The ensuing dilemma, of course, was what to do with them. She requested a scarf, but a scarf in cotton won't be warm enough to withstand our New England winters. A purse? She lost the last one. Finally, I decided to break my no-blanket rule and make her a blanket. Stripes? Squares? Log Cabin? I thought about them all before settling on small diamonds. I'd seen the pattern in my pattern-a-day calendar from two years ago and came across it again during a web search.

Now for the math. Every diamond is about 5 inches across and 5 inches tall. I'm figuring a good size would be 50 inches by 60 inches or ten diamonds by 12 diamonds. That means 120 diamonds. Each diamond takes about 30 minutes. So that means 60 hours of knitting? Really? Huh. Weeks? Months? Years? What if I can get the knitting down to 20 minutes per diamond? I never was that good with story problems!

This addition/multiplication/division doesn't account for all the mis-knits - the diamonds that aren't on gauge. All the yarns have roughly the same stitch per inch count on the label, but they're very different in real life.
I'm not good at math, but I'm great with deadlines. Right now, there's no deadline so no incentive to finish. I'm thinking maybe this should be a Christmas present.
The other issue is that the three skeins she picked out already won't be enough for this project. I figure that, however, is a good thing because now we'll have something to look for when I take her to the yarn shop.
And if we're going to finish this in time for Christmas, we better get shopping! (And I better get knitting!)
On a separate note, my friend Danielle over at knitting niche has some yarn in need of a project. She's looking for suggestions and running a contest.