Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sewing Lesson

Cal was home from school yesterday with a sore throat. It really was sore, I'm sure. His glands were like hard little marbles in the sides of his neck and all swollen up on the inside. But he didn't have a fever and was, in general, okay. In fact, he spent much of the day driving me nuts and fighting with his brother and making me yell that I really wish I had sent him to school because he didn't seem very sick to me. Admittedly, I was having a crabby day myself yesterday and his agitating behaviors and general stirring of my "normal routine" pot just did nothing to soothe my already ruffled mood.

In the morning, I worked out. That was good except when Cal went over trying to lift all the free weights and proceeded to yell at me "but I CAN" when I told him to put them down before he dropped one on his foot or hurt himself. Then he informed me that he wanted to start lifting weights. AAAHHG. "Cal, you're too young to lift weights. It's not good for growing muscles and ligaments. The only exercise you need is just to run around and play. I am NOT teaching you how to lift weights." This was followed by more yelling and defiance. My blood was boiling with him at this point, but a switch went on in my brain as I recalled a request of his over the weekend.

"Teach me to sew, Mama."

Ah... A DIVERGENCE! And it worked.

I was actually pretty impressed with his care and concentration. He even had decent control over the pedal and feed.

A small rectangle of art.

Only now he wants to actually make something.

Now me TEACHING Calvin just about anything never seems to end well. BUT, it's better than a six year old weight lifting.

::deep breath::

I can do this.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Yeah. Those Sticky Buns?

Caramel Sticky Buns from Artisan Bread? YUM doesn't even begin to cover it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Gifts and Plans and Ramblings and Feedback

I mentioned that I used to work at a dental office, but what I didn't say about that experience was that I have never in my life worked with a better group of women than what I did at that office. Our ages probably span close to 30 years, but we get along fabulously and still keep in touch. Last night, in fact, we all went out to dinner at a fab little Italian place downtown. We were celebrating my dear friend Angela's birthday and also providing some support and encouragement as she has found herself in the midst of a very difficult time. We had a great night out talking and eating until 10 o'clock. They practically had to throw us out of the restaurant! It was a good reminder for all of us of the importance of our friends and it got me out of the house!

I forgot to take pics of all the neckwarmers I made for Christmas gifts, but I made one for Angela's birthday and remembered...

It is just like the one I made for my MIL, with a different choice of button, and based in this pattern over at Loop. I used three skeins of a chenille- like yarn. I think it was called suede or something. Hard to tell the colors from my picture, but they are cream, brown and a deep purple. Made a lovely thick, soft and warm scarf. This is one I'd like to do for myself at some point.

There has been some other knitting going on for my soon-to-be-known nephew, but I can't show any of that yet. I have all sorts of ideas for the little chap, but then, I always have IDEAS. This here is a big one. The blanket? My brother's when he was a tot.

That hole? Burned lying on a nightlight. The top of the binding is in pretty rough shape too. But what has been rolling around in my head is a way to patch that hole and maybe turn it into a little play blanket..... you know different textures and doodads to keep him interested before he REALLY gets mobil. (Not my brother, just the baby). Yesterday, I got out a bunch of stuff from my scraps and was bursting with ideas. So, since this won't be an OFFICIAL gift, whatcha think A & A?

And, while I'm seeking feedback.... Sherrie? The flash has totally brightened the colors here... they look more like the pic of the skein I sent you. Dark browns, greys, blues and purples. But how are you feeling about the stitch? The side that goes against your neck is smooth and flat.

Happy thoughts for Friday and the weekend. I'm off to try the challah dough for sticky pecan rolls from Artisan Bread, to drool for a bit over Mad Hungry (yes, it is here already!) and to tackle washing all the sheets.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What More Can I Say About Me?

One of the best things about starting this blog has been all the incredible ladies I am meeting and, even better, the handful of them that are turning into real friends. It has been terribly fun learning that blogs I am attracted to reading are written by bloggers who are like me in many ways.... sometimes in really odd ways. I recently learned that my gal Heather over at Simply Feather was also a jumper for track and field in a previous life (by which I mean, high school.) And, in the same post, she bestowed another fab award on me.

Thank you, dear! Truly I am flattered. Part of my requirement here is to share more random bits about myself and I am nothing if not random, so I am fraught with possibilities. It seems I should try to keep my randomness different from the first time and the last time I was called upon to do this, just in case any of you are dying to know MORE about me. So, here goes:

1. I went to school for (and hold a BA in) secondary education- English. I never taught and ended up working for several years in a dental office after college.

2. I love OLD Barbara Streisand movies. Think "Funny Girl," "What's Up Doc?" or "Hello Dolly"

3. Yesterday I made the best oatmeal raisin cookies I have ever tasted. Really. I am totally digging Smitten Kitchen.

4. I can pop my right shoulder out of it's socket, but it's not as easy as it was at 15.

5. I have a long, very blonde hair that grows out of the center of my forehead. I pluck it then forget about it until I catch it in a certain light and there it is in all it's 1 inch glory. It makes me think of the Zeds from Dr. Seuss's One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. I'm so glad it's blonde.

6. This morning I was contacted by Susan Anderson to say that I had won her recent giveaway for the cookbook "Mad Hungry" by Lucinda Quinn. Although, I don't love to cook, I get inspired with trying new things and new recipes and this book interests me. I think it will come in handy when my boys are 6'2" teenagers!

7. I know all the lyrics to Vanilla Ice's "Ice, Ice Baby." Karaoke anyone?

As usual, I'm not going to tag anybody, but play long in the comments if you like... I'd love to hear YOUR randomness....

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Big Reveal

After a whole lot of weeks of looking like quite the little snaggle-tooth, of being compared to Alfred E. Newman and then Sloth from The Goonies, and of MUCH drama over the pulling out of the teeth at home by Mama (for FREE) as opposed to paying the dentist (boy that last one gave us a run for our money), Cal is finally loose tooth free!

And looking rather cute, I might add.

So what if he is already figuring out that I'm the Tooth Fairy. ::SIGH::

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Catch Up

It's been crazy snowing here. I think we had 8 straight days of snow. The tire swing is sitting on the snow and that big pile is a the beginning of a sledding hill made with snow from the roof and patio.

While it's been so cold and snowy, I've been blessed with a renewed sense of clarity for future plans and projects and a desire to get moving on them. Maybe it is being inside so much, but there is something about the winter and a desire to change the walls and spaces at which I am constantly staring. We've been here going on 2 years and had never really tackled the basement. Mike tore down a wall with mold on it before we moved in and we threw a bunch of boxes and random stuff down there. We made a little space and path for laundry and a jumbly gym area and just let it sit in all its messy glory while we focused on other stuff.

But all the moving around of furniture for Christmas and the blank page of a new year had me itching for projects. Unfortunately a lot of the projects on my list require a great deal more money that we currently have at our disposal. Organizing the basement though, is mostly elbow grease and decisive thinking, and so we dove in. A thing of beauty, it is not. But it is functional now and cleanish (save the bar area) and cozy (or will be when the wall is back up), so I'm happy.

We made a space for snacking and playing games in front of the bar.

A space to work out (of which I always have the most serious intentions of being good about doing regularly) or hang out and watch tv. Too bad about that missing wall. It's on the list.

I have tons of ideas in my head for sprucing it up: paint, storage, cushions, lighting, but I think we'll start with that wall. Not bad for just some cleaning out and rearranging.

And, as for those other projects that are in my head. Well, thanks to moving the gym stuff, Mike (and I) will now be able to make up a proper workshop area. First up on THAT list? Ellie's bunkbeds. Now that she's seen them, she keeps asking about when she can sleep in them. Of course, I told her they had to be fixed and painted and put together first.

"Okay," she tells me. "We can paint them pink?"

::deep breath:: "Sure you don't want a pretty green or blue?"

"NO! Pink."
That's my girl. Pink it shall be.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Handmade Man Gifting and a Bit of Sadness

For all my happy Christmas babble, a small part of me is filled with sadness. I spent hours and hours knitting and never took pictures of the finished products! ::sniff::sniff:: What was I thinking??? Well, some of the reason is that I had some things I was working on until the last minute and I was distracted getting ready for all of it. And it was joyous, so I won't dwell on my sadness. Just needed to wallow for a tiny moment.

One of my "distractions" was figuring out a manly gift that I could make. I sometimes struggle with handmade for a man. If I could do woodworking, or something equally exciting, I feel like I would have a bunch of ideas. But sewing and limited knitting skills always leave me searching when it comes to a guy. We were meeting my SIL's boyfriend for the first time and, while I've "known" him through Laurie for 2 years or so, I had no real idea of what would make a good handmade gift. And they live where it's hot, so knitting doesn't go too far. Then lo-and-behold, doesn't Whip Up send me an email with a guide for mens gifts?? I was inspired by a whole lot of things! My boys would LOVE this beanie!! This pillow is also a fantastic idea. And I have been planning to try this tie pattern since they posted the little boys' version. In the end, this checkerboard, really caught my eye. I didn't wind up using any of the instructions; it was more of a picture inspiration.

I made my own plans for size and wooden checkers

for storage

and compactness

and ended up with something that is wholly mine! I am so pleased with how it turned out and am mulling over in my head whether it is something that others might want to buy. But that would be for another time.....

The piecing went so quickly and easily. My only struggle was, even with a mat and rotary cutter, getting the squares to come out the same size! (I have only a small mat and straight edge and wonder if a larger version would have helped not having to slide the straight edge to finish the cut?) There are a whole lot of places where the squares do not line up properly. I was very frustrated by that, but the overall result was good so I tried not to fuss.

The best part? Doug is an avid checkers player and I had no idea :-) Well, truly the best part was really enjoying our meeting and visit, but the checkers bit was pretty fantastic too.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Holiday Recap

My, oh my, we have been busy. And, busy in such a good way. I hardly know how to feel about today. Elated to be back to routine? Frustrated that I was 20 minutes late to preschool? Lonely for adult company? Thrilled for a little quiet while the boys are at school? Tired? COLD? Raring to tackle new things and projects in this new year?

Probably all of it. I'm a complex gal.

And, did I mention cold? BITTER COLD.

So before I get started on the NEW things, here's what we've been up to.
A photo session (I love the out-takes!):

Baking cookies with Daddy:

A lovely Christmas morning:


Playing in the snow:

Making new friends:

Hanging out with the visitors:

More Legos:

New Years' Eve engineering in the dark (the power went out at Nana and Papa's):

Hanging out with Santa Claus (Cal is getting suspicious, Papa!):

Oh, it was a good time for sure. I feel like each Christmas with the kids brings a little more balance and perspective and a little less crying and stress. And, while I loved it all, now we have packed away the decorations and are ready to clean house. Literally. We've got plans up our sleeves around here, oh yes we do.

The trick is to get them out of our sleeves and into our lives. But if there is a time to do that, the new year is it, so bring it on!