Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Baby blanket progress

The latest progress on the feather and fan baby blanket. I need to have it done by February 20. I am lacking three skeins, so I am about 1/2 way there. Can I just say I am tired of pale baby pink. I have never really been a pastel person, so this is truly a labor of love!

Blogger Woes

ARRGGHHH! I took pictures last night of some new yarn, my WIPs and Project Spectrum things I plan on doing with the boys. But this morning, when I have time to post...blogger won't upload pictures for me!

Today is skating day. The homeschool group we belong to offers homeschool skate from 2-4 every Tuesday. The deal in our home is, if your schoolwork is completed we will go skating. It is amazing what a motivator can do. I enjoy it as well, there is a nice group of moms with whom I enjoy visiting.

Tuesday is a busy day overall. After skating, we rush home for 15 minutes...let the dogs out, then off to Smoda's Kindermusik class. While he is in class, I take Speedy B by RacerDad's so they can go to a batting lesson as soon as my husband gets off work. Tonight has an added event, but it is for me ;-). I am going to go and meet some ladies at one of the local Starbucks for knitting. I can't wait!

Well, I will try to post pictures later...but it maybe tomorrow.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday Morning Recipe

I am part of veggie co-op. I enjoy it most of the time, the only downside....you are at the mercy of that week's shoppers. Our group is pretty good about sticking to the basics. The only thing that shows up on a regular basis that is a little odd for my family is jalapenos. Now I ask you, what would your family do with 5 to 10 jalapenos? I can and have made salsa, but that only uses one jalapeno. So typically, I pass them on to neighbors or throw them away.

I am trying to be a better steward of what the Lord provides for us and so I determined to find something that my family would eat using all those jalapenos. I got to thinking that most of us enjoy Rattlesnake bites, Pepper poppers or whatever your local restaurant calls stuffed jalapenos. I went to my favorite online recipe resource, Allrecipes.com, and typed in stuffed jalapenos. The following is the recipe that received the most favorable reviews.

Stuffed Jalapenos

12 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 (8 ounce) package whipped cream cheese
12 slices bacon, cut in half

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Stuff each jalapeno half with whipped cream cheese. Wrap a half slice of bacon around each stuffed jalapeno half.
Arrange wrapped jalapeno halves in a single layer on a medium baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven 45 minutes, or until bacon is evenly browned and crisp.

Upon reading the reviews, most of the people had used pineapple flavored cream cheese with rave reviews. So I used the pineapple cream cheese as well. I also precooked the bacon in the microwave for 2 minutes, cutting the overal cooking time to about 20 minutes. They were a big hit. Everyone in the family, except Smoda, really liked them. We are eagerly anticipating the next arrival of jalapenos in the produce bags!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Favorite Things That start with P

Memes....either you love them or hate them. Typically for me, I learn something about the person posting them...but then when they are passed on for me to complete I have a hard time coming up with the required elements. Firefly at Bioluminescence had a favorite letter meme and I thought it might be fun to play along....until she assigned my letter......P. Once again, coming up with my answers was harder than I thought! Anyway, here goes my ten favorite things that begin with the letter "P".

1. Puppies - I love any puppy, but I am able to exercise restraint and not bring them all home with me.

2. Pizza - Thin crust, pork sausage and mushroom from Pizza Hut or even better homemade from my mother's recipe.

3. The word "pretties". I know...not a real word, but it makes me think of my Granny Sybil, that is the word she used to describe decorative objects.

4. Bartlett Pear Wallflowers from White Barn Candle Company. They smell heavenly and I don't have to remember to blow them out like candles!

5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

6. Pictures....I love family pictures. Currently I am experiencing guilt over not scrapbooking, so I am not taking as many. My friend Mrs. M suggests that I set aside one day a month to take pictures. I am thinking I will do that.

7. Parafin waxes....hands are so soft afterwards.

8. Purling...well actually I prefer knitting, but I had to get knitting in somehow.

9. Pearls

10. Puzzles...crosswords, seek and find, suduko, as well as the standard jig-saw.

Illness....take 4

Here we go again....I made the mistake of gleefully telling someone that my family had really not been sick in over a year. What was I thinking!!! Of course we all know this is like praying for patience.

It began when RacerDad came home with his little bug. Fortunately short lived and not too bad. Then I got my cold last week, felt like death warmed over for days...finally on the mend. Speedy B had his own version of Dad's bug on Wednesday and Thursday. Poor thing came downstairs in the middle of the night Wednesday to tell me he had thrown up, not once but twice on the carpet. Remember my hero RacerDad? Of course he cleaned up all the mess....What a guy!

Then today, as we began our extremely overbooked Saturday, Cowodie looked at me to say he didn't feel well. "What's wrong?" I asked. He said his stomach felt funny, but not because he was sick...he was just excited. He evidently didn't want to miss the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby or a birthday party. We went ahead to the Pinewood Derby and weren't in the room 5 minutes when he looked at me with tears in his eyes and asked to go home. So here we are...taking a break in what was to be a very hectic day. I feel bad for him, I know he must really be sick to miss Scouts or one of his best friends' birthday parties.

I am looking at the day as a gift...free knitting time, slow down and relax time. I am only hoping that Cowodie's stomach can hold on until RacerDad gets home!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #10

Thirteen Birds on my Life List
I attribute my love of birds to my Aunt Beulah and Uncle George of Springfield, Missouri. Aunt Beulah was my grandmother's older sister and a sweeter woman I never met. When I was a young teenager, I would go and spend a week with them experiencing absolute bliss. They were a happily married couple of many decades that truly loved one another and everyone around them. Their home had a large backyard that was a haven for birds, it helped that they had numerous feeders to attract them. I remember sitting at Aunt Beulah's kitchen table as she would identify the birds for me.
I forgot how wonderful it was to enjoy the birds until I began homeschooling my boys and looking at the wonderful "science lesson" we had right outside our backdoor.
When I began paying attention again, the only birds I could identify were cardinals, blue jays, robins and everything else was a "sparrow". It has been fun to learn the different birds and their habits. These are the birds I have personally seen and recorded in my nature notebook...
1. Great Blue Heron...saw this at Lake Grapevine one day when the boys and I were doing a nature "drive". I told them what we were looking for and I kept looking up, finally Cowodie said "isn't that it, right outside your window?" Sure enough, it was standing in the middle of the road!
2. Brown bat. There was a mother and 4 of her babies in our front flower bed. At first I thought it was a dead animal, when I went to get a shovel to remove it they began flapping...can I say I jumped! Technically I know the bat is a mammal, but it flies and made it in my journal.
3. Red-winged Blackbird..one time very common in our area, housing developments are pushing them away due to loss of habitat.
4. House Finch. I was so excited when I learned that these were NOT sparrows. The males have lovely red heads and breasts.
5. Carolina Wren. We were fortunate to watch him build a nest in our birdhouse, attract a mate and raise a brood. We even got to see the little ones learn to fly...very cool.
6. Bewick Wren. The next year this one built a nest in the same house. It was pitiful to listen to him day after day try to attract a mate. He never did, so he left.
7. Goldfinch. I was so excited the day I saw one of these for the first time. The coloring is so amazing. We saw it in the backyard at the regular feeder, so of course I went to buy the right feeder and EXPENSIVE feed, he never came back that year! Isn't that the way it is??
8. Juncos. I love to see these each winter. We never see them until it gets really cold then they are around every day. This year they didn't come south until January.
9. Tufted Titmouse. Just the cutest little birds. I love to watch them.
10. Chickadee. They are a cousin to the titmouse, I never see one without the other. It is fun to watch them dive the feeder. They never sit long.
11. Cedar Waxwing. I have only seen one up close. It was sitting in my crepe myrtle and waited for me to identify it. At first I thought it was a titmouse, the more I looked I knew it wasn't. I was afraid it would fly away before I could remember enough about it, but it just sat there so patiently and let me get rather close.
12. Brown creeper. Neat little bird that just climbs up and down a tree trunk.
13. Yellow-rumped Warbler. This was my new find this year. The lady at the bird store told me its common name is a "butter-butt". The boys and I will call it a yellow-rumped warbler, thank you very much...butt is a bad word at our house.
I must stop, but I really don't want to....I have also seen egrets, cattle egrets, woodpeckers, hawks, and killdeer, just to name a few more. I hope that I am instilling a love for birds in the boys like my Aunt Beulah did for me. I think it is getting through, they will call to me from the window..."hey mamsie, did you see....?"
What birds are common in your area?

Works for Me - Fels Naptha Soap

My works for me tip is a wonder soap...it can do it all. Mrs. M. first introduced me to Fels-Naptha soap about six years ago and I can't imagine life without it. My husband is an automotive technician and we were forever getting grease spots in various places on our carpet....no matter how careful he was, even taking his shoes off there might me a fleck of grease on his sock. Believe me, those flecks of grease can grow and multiply quickly!

Mrs. M. assured me that if anything could get the grease out of my carpet, Fels-Naptha could. She had experienced the cleaning power of the soap when she tested it against baby food carrots on her beige carpet. I gave it a try and she was right, most of the spots disappeared and the ones that were left were so light they were hardly noticable.

I have used the soap to clean grass and dirt stains out of my basball playing son's pants, the pants look like new after two seasons of playing catcher. It has erased that awful orange diaper blowout. Fels-Naptha works on blood, grease, ketchup and chocolate. There are even people that say it works to stop the effects of poison ivy...we haven't had to test that yet fortunately!

With all its wonderful cleaning properties, you would think it would be a pricey item. It is actually very inexpensive...I can buy it for less than $1 at my local grocery store. The bar lasts quite awhile as well. Works for Me ---Fels-Naptha soap.

Get other Works for Me tips at Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

The only thing I am tackling today is feeling better. I was hoping my cold would be short lived, but it must be a pretty nasty virus....I feel worse today than yesterday. Please leave me some chicken soup along with a comment, I want to feel better soon!

I did hear on the Today show this morning that Kleenex now has tissues that kill 99.9% of all viruses. From a "Lysol Queen" that sounds appealing, from a mommy standpoint is it safe to have a "virus killer" that close to our face??

Next week I will have a tackle....believe me I have lots to Tackle!

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Cold!

I really can't complain too much, I haven't been sick for over a year. I felt the drippy nose coming on Saturday and today it hit full force. I took some allergy medicine last evening hoping that it was allergies...but no, it is a full fledge cold.

My head is pounding, sore throat, fever and runny nose. Unfortunately, when you are the mommy, life doesn't stop. Take plenty of vitamin C, drink fluids and get lots of sleep...(yeah right, I see that happening!), that's about all I can do. Fortunately, I know I will feel better soon....but I am miserable right now.

Poor, pitiful me....

Friday, January 19, 2007

Smoda Moment

Today Smoda showed such compassion to our dog Trixie, it really warmed my heart.

Trixie is a mini dachshund and every once in awhile she puts her nose somewhere she shouldn't and gets a scrape...I think she puts it in a hole in the fence, but I haven't caught her in the act so not really sure.

Smoda came running up to me this afternoon to tell me that "Trixie was blooding in her mouth". I knew she had a scrape on her nose so I wasn't real worried, I told Smoda not to worry and went on with helping Cowodie with math. A few minutes later he was at my side again this time with neosporin and a band-aid. He said "I knew you would need this."

I had to hide my smile ....

Yarn Snobs Unite Swap

I have been spoiled by Nerdgirl! Look at my wonderful gifts that came today! She so went above and beyond the requirements.
Not only did I get this gorgeous Koigu colorway, but she included a sock pattern. I am going to conquer my fear of the toe up, short row heel sock. The directions look easy, I know I can do it. She also sent some delicious Walker Shortbread cookies to enjoy while knitting.
Hmmm, I know that blue, gray and white are the first Project Spectrum colors...wonder if there is enough blue in this colorway??? I guess I need to see when green projects start.

Stinger Bee Sock

My latest sock. It is interesting, not sure I would call it pretty, but Speedy B likes it. The colors are his baseball team colors....The Stingers are gold, black, gray and white. When I started the pattern, it was forming vertical stripes as well as the horizontal stripes. It is actually prettier in "real life". I do like the pattern of the sock, like so many sock patterns, it really would be more visable in a solid color. I hope I learn soon how to match sock yarn with pattern!
I must say I like the type of yarn. This is Artyarn O4 Merino. It is so soft, remember this is the project that I began when I gave up the scratchy Cable socks. I will never use cheap sock yarn again. It is just NOT worth it.

Yarn, Yarn, a Swift and Winder Too!!

This has been such a fun week. The mailman has been at my house quite a few times...maybe too many?? See my beautiful new yarn? The big hank of solid blue is Lorna's Shepherd Worsted weight. I got it to replace the yucky, scratchy brown yarn that I was using for my Cable sock KAL. I was really enjoying the pattern and I have to say knitting socks in worsted weight is FAST! But I wanted good yarn. I ordered it from Angelika's along with the yarn I got for my Swap-bot "Yarn Snobs Unite" partner. (I wish I could show you that too, but my partner might see and I really want her to be surprised!)

The other two yarns come from The Loopy Ewe, that Beth recommends. I have to say I will use the store again! I ordered on Sunday, Monday was a holiday and I received my package on Thursday. Sherri included some fun freebies as well...excellent customer service, not bad prices either. The mainly blue one is Cherry Tree Hill, sock weight it feels wonderful....can't wait to use it. I think it will be done up in the Dublin Bay pattern. The other a Schafer yarn, Lola it is also a worsted weight. The boys are calling it clown feet...I just fell in love with the colors, clown or not. It will go in the stash for now. The two blue yarns (socks) along with a purse project round out my Project Spectrum items. Come on February!

I love my swift. I ordered it from Angelika's. It is a piece of art. I have always been a sucker for handcrafted items, this is all wood and turns like a dream. The boys are so excited, their arms will no longer have to hold my yarn as I wind it in a pitiful ball. I never got the hang of a neat hand-wound ball. Winding yarn has become a spectator sport. Just let me start winding and I have all three boys watching spellbound as well as one of the dogs barking at the flying yarn!
Here is the ball winder. Again from Angelika's. I got the jumbo winder, probably too big...but if I do a chunky yarn I won't have to worry if it will all fit.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #9

Books I have not read that are on my bookshelves waiting for me.

1. Tales from the 1001 Nights. Translated by Sir Richard Burton. I am familiar with many of the stories, but have never read the actual book.

2. The Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers. I have never read any of her works, but I understand she is an outstanding mystery writer.

3. The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. This one was on the buy two classics get one free shelf at Borders, it intrigued me.

4. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Absolutely love Jane Austen....this is the last of her novels that I have not read. I want to savor it, probably won't get read until the end of the year.

5. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. This one has been on my shelf for awhile. Mother gave me a gift certificate to Borders for my birthday in 2004, somehow this one got put on the shelf and never read. I "found" it again when we moved and I set up the library.

6. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster. Found this one (and the next) at a COOL ramshackle used bookstore in Tulsa. It takes up an entire strip center, it is so loaded with books you are almost afraid the shelves will topple down. They have three aisles of "classic" literature. It was an absolute reader's heaven in there. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the store, but I used to go in there whenever I went to visit my mother.

7. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster. When I purchased this book and the one above, the clerk asked me if I was a student. When I answered no, he was in a state of disbelief that anyone would actually read these books for pleasure.

8. Enter Jeeves, 15 Early Stories by P.G. Wodehouse. Wodehouse provides delightful easy reading.

9. Mrs. Pringle of Fairacre by Miss Read. Miss Read novels are feel good, light fluffy reading for me. They are very similar to the Jan Karon novels, just set in England and written many years ago.

10. Just Shy of Harmony by Philip Gulley. Another author whose style reminds me of Jan Karon. I enjoyed the first novel Home to Harmony, hopefully this one will be as delightful.

11 and 12. The Fisherman's Lady and The Marquis' Secret by George MacDonald. I purchased this boxed set after high recommendations from several ladies on the Ambleside Online homeschool email loop. I have read other works by MacDonald, he is good at weaving Christian truths into the novel. His literary style takes some getting used to, but I have found them to be well worth the trouble.

13. Heavy Weather by P.G. Wodehouse. Wodehouse has become one of my favorite kick back and relax authors. He has subtle humor woven throughout. If you haven't tried one of his books...you really should.

Have you read any of the above titles? Which are your favorites?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Today is For the Birds

Today is yet another ice day here in north Texas. Really I can't complain, I have lived in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex since 1989 and there have only been two winters I can think of where we have had back to back ice storms. It could be much worse! Today though caught everyone off guard. The bad weather was supposed to go to the south of us and instead, the northern edge caught us but good! Bridges were icy, there were roads closed, the whole nine yards. RacerDad (who is well by the way!) had to turn around and come back home. The bridge that takes him into work was shut down due to a wreck. He was unable to head in until after 10:00. Cold, icy weather does make for good bird watching....

The boys and I have had fun watching two hairy woodpeckers chase each other around the trees. They each have their own, then one will come over and try to get food off the tree belonging to the other and the chase begins. It has really been quite comical.

The excitement of the day came when I happened to look down on the ground and see a yellow and brown bird. I had never seen anything like it, I knew it was not a goldfinch. I pulled out my trusty Sibley's and looked for common characteristics. It described a yellow rumped warbler. The only problem, the size description was wrong, Sibley was describing a slightly larger bird, the one I saw was the size of a sparrow. I called my local Wild Bird Center to see if they could give me any help and the sweet lady there said "oh, it's a 'butter-butt' ". I evidently sounded confused and she clarified herself by letting me know the common name for a yellow rumped warbler is a 'butter-butt'. This particular warbler is the size a sparrow. It is always fun for me to be able to identify a "new" bird!

Kids Knit

I will be teaching a knitting class for children this summer at a summer camp. I was searching for books that would give clear instructions as well as some fun EASY projects for the children to complete. I think I have found the perfect book. It is called Kids Knit by Sarah Bradberry.

The book begins with a sections on "What is Knitting" and "Tools you need". It goes into detail on choosing the right needles for your yarn, as well as describing the different types of yarn and how to read the yarn label. I found it to be well written, a 9 or 10 year old would not have difficulty understanding, but yet it is not condescending to someone much older....hey I even learned a few things, and I am much older than 10! ;-0

The rest of the books deals with technique and projects. Each technique section has clear illustrations as well as step by step written directions. It is then followed by a project that uses that particular technique. For example, after learning to knit, the project is a simple dishcloth. The next lesson is reading a pattern and overcasting, so the headband project uses the knit stitch and overcasting.

The project variety (20 different ones) is much better than I have seen in other knitting books for children. From a simple cat toy, to hair accessories, gift items and bags there is a project for everyone.
I am looking forward to using this book with children. Speedy B is going to make the cat toy for our friend that keeps the boys on "date night".

Fun Little Game

I am not the techno wizard that many bloggers are....hopefully some day I will learn the fun little trick of adding a video for my faithful readers.

If you have some spare time, you and your children should really go here. It is called Linerider. You have the use of a pencil, much like in a paint program. The object is to draw a "hill" that a little sledder can navigate without crashing. I will tell you that I played for about 10 minutes and my poor guy ended up in the hospital every time! Quite fun.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Oh No!

Dear RacerDad came home from work sick with a severe stomach bug. I have already put him to bed in the guest room with no one allowed to talk to Daddy tonight. I am just praying I have nipped it in the bud. I am queen of Lysol...from my days of teaching in the public school. This time of year I would do "air sprays" and go through the classroom spraying. Needless to say our class generally stayed the healthiest!

I will let you in on a little secret....I am not super mom, nor will I ever win that award. I dream of being the mother that nurses children through illness, holding their sweet hands, wiping their fevered brow....and I am as long as it does not involve "throw-up". I just can't stomach it (pun intended). I can handle dirty diapers, blood, high fevers, staples (stitches) without batting an eye, but let a child begin to retch and I join right in. This is one of the strengths I love about my dear husband. He is "clean-up king", doesn't even flinch as he changes sheets and bathes sick children. He is my rock....and now he is ill. Please pray it stays contained. I will do my part if need be, but I just don't feel there is anything soothing about the nurse throwing up along with the patient!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday #3 - the foyer

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
My tackle for this week was the same as Janice's, finish clean up from Christmas. I had two trees this year, as well as various decorations scattered throughout house. I had taken everything down but the most obvious...the tree in the foyer. So what did people see when they first walked in my house??? A Christmas tree.
Now this year is not as bad as the year we had Smoda. His birthday is December 13th and just after Christmas that year I was hit with a horrible case of baby blues. I did well to just make it through the day much less organize and put things away with a newborn, 3yo and 5yo and the children I babysat...ages 2 and 6.
Along about April, the exterminator came by to do his normal quarterly spraying, when he walked in my formal living room he exclaimed "boy, I wish my wife would let me keep up a Christmas tree all year".
"Tree???", I sputtered, "what tree?"
"Your Christmas tree, it is beautiful".
At that point it dawned upon me that I hadn't taken down my tree that year. Needless to say, it came down that afternoon!!
My tackle was the foyer, putting the tree back out in the storage shed, dust mopping the foyer and cleaning the items in the curio cabinet. It feels good having it all done. I wish I could post pictures.....but the camera battery is dead. I will try to have some pictures to go with it by the end of the day.

Ice Skating Texas Style

Speedy B and Cowodie were so excited to wake up to ice! They are wise to Texas weather and realized that if they were to enjoy it, (many times ice and snow will only last hours!) they could not waste time. So before 8:00 a.m., they were bundled up and outside skating on the drive.

They were also excited to find these icicles. One of them came off our van, the longer one is off our neighbors truck. True Texas style, the ice melted off the drive and streets by early afternoon....now just the bitter cold remains. It is forecasted to be in the low 20's tonight with windchills in the single digits.

While I have joked of the winter weather, it is not a laughing matter in my home state of Oklahoma. Friends and family members have shared their woes....one friend has no water because the water for their house comes from their pond and the pipes are frozen, my dad has been without electricity since Friday...no heat for him either in his all electric house. Please pray for those affected by this storm system.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Winter Weather

Winter rains have pelted our area for the last three days. That is a good thing considering how dry it has been in North Texas the last few years. It has made for miserable conditions, cold and damp. For those of you living in other parts of the country, you probably laugh at our "complaining" of the cold. Bear with us please, the temperature dropped from a balmy 70 degrees Friday afternoon to 32 degrees all in the space of one hour!

Yesterday, my family didn't even leave the house. It was rather pleasant...watching movies, playing games, cooking, for me knitting and RacerDad worked on slotcars. Of course the weather did not get as bad as the forcasters predicted. Just wet and rainy, light ice on the bridges. Today we did venture out to church, all evening activities have been cancelled. It will be interesting to see what the night brings. The ground is extremely wet, roads are as well. Rain is forecasted for the night as well as temperatures in the low 20's.

I feel bad for RacerDad. Bad weather invariably means a slow day at work for him. The shop is cold and no works means the day will just drag along.

The woods down by the lake were just beautiful when we went to church. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me, so I snapped these pictures in the backyard.

The yard actually sloshed as I walked across it. I can't remember the last time I had that happen!

Definintions and an Explanation

I have had some people wonder where the title of my blog comes from, I have put off answering long enough. I love home pursuits...cooking, reading, decorating, knitting. I love to be AT home. Now don't get me wrong, I love people and do desire to be around them, but I HATE driving, shopping, etc. As a matter of fact, now that you can do so much online, I really would never have to leave home...sounds good to me! Anyway, when I started this blog, I wanted a title that would bring to mind home, warm, cozy, etc. and "At my Hearth" just seemed to fit.

With our North Texas weather the last couple of days, I have spent a lot of time by my hearth. RacerDad has had a fire in the fireplace since Friday and other than to cook or go to church this morning, I have been in my chair knitting and enjoying just being at home.

As for definitions...since there are some non-knitters that read my blog, let me clue you in.

Frog...(verb, To frog) pulling out your stitches because of a mistake or dislike for pattern or yarn. Called frogging because you "rip it, rip it" just like the sound a frog makes.

KAL...short for Knit Along. Knitting a pattern with a group of people at the same time in order to compare progress and notes.

Now back to my warm chair, fireplace and more knitting. Chili is bubbling on the stove and I may make banana bread for later....but then again I may not, I want to knit!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Northanger Abbey

I finished Northanger Abbey by Austen over the Christmas holiday. I really think this is my favorite Austen novel....isn't each one the favorite as I finish?? I have been mulling over the storyline, considering the characters and thinking of what I want to say.

This book really touched me. At first, I did not care for the heroine of the novel Catherine Moreland. Austen seemed to go out of her way to make sure you knew she was ordinary, not an exceptional beauty, nor overly bright, not even accomplished in the womanly pursuits as a woman in her time should be. I even thought of putting the book down a time or two. But I persevered.

Catherine's unassuming character grew on me and I longed to see her do well. I did not care for the Thorpe family with whom she aligned herself. Quite possibly because in Mrs. Thorpe I saw some of my own fallacies. Mrs. Thorpe had a tendency to focus all her conversation on her children, bragging of their accomplishments to the extent that she ignored the conversations of others. I too have a tendency to talk on about my family to the point of monopolizing the conversation. It is something I have worked on for a long time, to try to take the backseat, but it does not come naturally for me. In Mrs. Thorpe's character, it was so glaring and disagreebale I don't wish to continue in that vein.

Another human flaw that Austen points out is the tendency of some to exaggerate or lie to make a point favorable for them. She puts it so well....

"Catherine listened with astonishment; she knew not how to reconcile two such very different accounts of the same thing; for she had not been brought up to understand the propensities of a rattle, nor to know to how many idle assertions and impudent falsehoods the excess of vanity will lead. Her own family were plain matter-of-fact people, who seldom aimed at wit of any kind, her father, at the utmost, being contented with a pun, and her mother with a proverb; they were not in the habit therefore of telling lies to increase their importance, or of asserting at one moment what they would contradict the next."

I think people in our society have a real problem with "importance" and saying whatever is necessary to make themselves stand out. Exaggeration, moreso than an all out lie is more common than not. It is something I have tried to explain to my boys on more than one occasion, if it is not the complete truth without embellishments, then it is a lie.

If you haven't read Northanger Abbey yet, I would highly reccommend it. I do believe it is my favorite Austen novel, at least until the next one!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Works for Me - Memorizing Box

Memorizing is a wonderful skill that we should all work on. It is good for children as well as adults. I believe that while memorizing is difficult for adults, it is the best thing we can do to help our brains stay active and young. My 92 year old father-in-law is a perfect example. He can quote poetry and scripture beautifully. He also does the daily crossword puzzle.
In our family scripture memorization is our main task, but we do throw in poetry, hymns, songs and other items. I found a great tool at Simply Charlotte Mason to enhance memorizing. It is a system utilizing a 3x5 file box, dividers and your things to memorize. You will need dividers marked the following way:
*one each for the days of the week
*31 dividers numbered 1-31
*2 dividers one labeled odd, the other one labeled even
You begin with things you already have memorized, write them on 3x5 cards and disperse them through the dividers. These will be your review items. New things you wish to learn put in front of the daily divider. Pick one that you will begin working on, this one goes behind your daily card. Each day you review your daily card and the other cards that correspond to that date. For example, today is Wednesday - January 10th, you would work on your daily card and review the items behind the Wednesday, #10 and even cards. Tomorrow, you would work on daily, Thursday, #11 and odd. In this manner, each day of the month you will be reviewing items already learned to keep them cemented in your little "ole" brain. As you learn your "daily" item, move it behind the odd or even card and pick a new "daily". The learned item will then progress to a "day of the week" divider and finally to a numbered divider.
This system has worked in our family, the boys enjoy it and it is finally working with my brain. One of my goals this year was to work on more scripture memory, this system Works for Me!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Scrapbook Retreat Pictures

It was a wonderful weekend! There was time for relaxation, laughter and plenty of hobby time! I went to Hobby Hill House in North Central Texas. It would not be a bad drive from Oklahoma City and it was approximately an hour from the DFW metroplex. The food was delicious, accomodations were wonderful...good beds, clean bathrooms and plenty of workspace.

I had plenty of time to work on this sock that I have since decided to frog. The yarn is just TOO scratchy.

I also finished my January KAL from the Dishcloth Monthly group. I am pleased with how it turned out, though I won't use Cotton-Tots for anymore dishcloths. I am seeing an Amish Star, similar to a quilt block.
I have now finished 1 and 1/2 skeins of the baby blanket (out of 6). It is getting a little monotonous to knit. So I am glad I have other projects to break it up with.
Oh yeah, it was a scrapbook retreat! I was able to complete 32 pages for the heritage album I am doing with all the old family pictures. I am just almost finished with it, probably another couple of evenings and it will be done!

Speedy B's First Written Narration

We follow a Charlotte Mason philosophy in our homeschool. Her methodology places a strong emphasis on the student being able to narrate their lessons. If a child can narrate, the piece has become a part of them. I must admit I have not been as faithful in having the boys narrate as I should. This school year, we have tried to narrate at least one lesson a day. Yesterday, for the first time I required a written rather than oral narration from Speedy B.

He read chapter 55 from Child's History of the World, it is about Marco Polo.

"The Tartars came from the east, at the head Genghis Khan. He was a magnificence (magnificent) warrior. He took over many places. He died then his grandson got the throne and made many castles with large gardens in Cathay.

In Venice, Marco Polo, his father and uncle heard about Kublai Khan the grandson. So they got ready to go see Cathay. Kublai asked them to come in and tell him stories about Venice. After they finished, he wanted more so they stayed for almost 20 years. They got magnificent gifts.

So they left after 20 years. They are back home. Not Venentian gentlemen any more, they look like tramps, no one knows them."

I was very pleased with his first attempt. When he gives oral narration, he doesn't typically use "new" vocabulary. In the written form, he used better vocabulary and was more complete with his thoughts.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Frog my Cable Sock KAL??

Do I frog it or finish?? I am 2/3's done with the first sock and I hate the yarn. It is 100% wool by Lion Brand. It is a good thick sock, but it is scratchy and the stitch definition is not very good...looks fuzzy. Not at all like my Socks that Rock.

I hate not finishing something after spending time on it. But I can't see myself wearing the socks. At best I would give them away, but I really wouldn't want someone to cloud their judgement about handmade socks because they don't like the yarn either.

Such a hard decision!

Monday Morning Recipe

Today is a "two-fer" day. You get two recipes instead of just one. The first recipe is an easy pull it together at the last minute type. All of the ingredients are ones you can keep on hand. I made this quite frequently in college and single life. It was a favorite comfort food. My husband can't tolerate even the smell of tuna so I haven't made it for almost 12 years. A dear friend from high school requested this recipe over the Christmas holiday, so this one is for you Janice!

Tuna Casserole

1/2 package of egg noodles, cooked and drained
1 can tuna, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can of milk
4 oz. (or more if desired) cubed velveeta cheese
crushed potato chips

Combine noodles, tuna, soup, milk and cheese in a mixing bowl. Pour into a greased 9x9 baking dish. Top with crushed potato chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through.

This next recipe is one that I enjoyed over the weekend at my scrapbook retreat...more in another post.

Scandinavian Almond Bars

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup slice almonds

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg and almond extract and beat well. Add flour mixture and beat until well mixed. Divide dough into halves. Form each into a 12 inch roll. Place rolls 4-5 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten until 3 inches wide. Brush flattened rolls with milk and sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. While cookies are still warm cut them crosswise at a diagonal into 1 inch strips. Cool. Drizzle with Almond Icing. Makes 48 cookies.

Almond Icing

1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
3-4 tsp. milk

Stir sugar and extract and enough milk to make icing of drizzling consistency. Drizzle over warm cookies and let icing dry before storing.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Scrapbook Retreat

I am off for a weekend just for myself. Mrs. M and I are headed to a bed and breakfast with other nutty scrapbooking women for fun and frolic!

I am taking knitting, The Woman in White and more pictures than any 50 women should have.

Have a wonderful weekend. I will post pictures on Monday!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Write-Away Contest

Have you written a post concerning goals for the coming year? Scribbet is hosting The Write-Away Contest. Give it a look see to find out if you have a post worthy of entering. Sounds like fun....she even has prizes!

Thursday Thirteen #8

Thirteen Things I hope to compete in 2007

1. Finish Marie's baby blanket by the end of February...knitting in fingering weight, feather and fan design. You can see a picture of what I have completed here.

2. Make curtains for my bathroom. I have the fabric (have had it for 6 months!) just haven't sat down and done them.

3. Paint the shed that RacerDad built. The weather is either too cold or too rainy or if it is pretty, I don't have the time!

4. Paint Cowodie and Smoda's bedroom....they are wanting a cowboy room in blue and tan.

5. Make curtains for C and S's bedroom. Here again I have the fabric (red bandana) just need to sit down and do it.

6. Learn to use the digitizing software we bought to go with the Designer I sewing machine. My sweet RacerDad is the one who loves to sew and is fascinated by the embroidery function, but I am the one that NEEDS (his word) to learn the software so I can explain it to him. Now why can't it be the other way around???

7. Make curtains for the guest room, also some coordinating pillows for the bed. Can you guess...fabric is purchased, just need to do it!

8. Sell quilting books, quilting magazines, cookbooks and Precious Moments on Ebay. These are things from my mother that I have gone through, kept what I wanted, gone through again and it is time. These things fill the guest room closet until you can't walk in, they also fill some of the shelves in my closet and I am in major declutter mode!

9. Paint Speedy B's room....his choice is a baseball room (what, he likes baseball???). He wants it the exact same shade as his bedroom at the old house. The only problem, that color was an "oops" paint from Home Depot.

10. Of course after I paint Speedy B's room what do I need to do? Make curtains! Do I have the fabric? Do you need to ask???? Lovely antique baseball print, just begging to be curtains.

11. Stay current with the classic novels being read with the blog group Knit the Classics. In January we are reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I enjoy his work, I read The Moonstone several years ago, but it took longer than a month.

12. Complete the heritage scrapbook album I have begun. I have a chest of drawers that my mother had moved from my grandmother's home when Gram died. Two of the drawers were jammed full of pictures....great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, misc. aunts, uncles, cousins. Do I know who all these people are? Unfortunately, no. I have gone through and made piles of the ones I know, by close examination I was able to determine quite a few. But with no family left that I can ask, I have thrown away a lot as well. A friend asked me how I could throw away pictures, my thought is should I keep them just because my mother and grandmother did? If I don't have a clue of the identity and don't have anyone to ask what are the boys going to do with the pictures? So I threw them away. This weekend I am going on a scrapbook retreat, hopefully I will finish this project.

13. Keep up with my knit alongs.

When I go back over this list, it looks a little daunting...but hey I have 348 days. Right??

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

On the Needles - January

I can finally say that I am feeling like a knitter. I have three projects in progress at the same time and I am actually working on all of them. I have had more than one project in the works before, but to be completely honest once I put a project down it went into never-never land. I would then pull it out years later and think...hmmmm...wonder what this was? I am definitely enjoying my rekindled hobby, it is so satisfying to finish a project. Here is what I have going right now...
This is the January KAL from the yahoo group Easy Socks. It is a cable pattern from a worsted weight yarn. I do love the quick way that the worsted weight knits up. But I believe I have already become a yarn snob! This particular yarn is Lion Brand Wool and it is so rough after using Socks That Rock. I am not sure what it will feel like as a sock. I am going to muddle on through with it. I have found knitting cables to be quite fun. Who knows what will be next, can anyone say Aran??
This is my January KAL with the Monthly Dishcloth group. I am using Bernat Cotton-Tots, not too sure if I like it for the pattern. It seems to be nubby rather than smooth, making the pattern kind of fade into itself. It is extremely soft and I think it would make a good facecloth.
Finally, I am working on a baby blanket for a friend. I offered to make a baby blanket (read machine sewn) for her and embroider the baby's name on it. She thought it would be special to have a handknit baby blanket. Oh well, just call me a sucker. This is very soft and going quicker than I expected. But I fear that February will be upon me rather quickly. The pattern is feather and fan and I am using a fingering weight yarn.

Coffee and Yarn Swap

Hurray! My swap buddy sent my coffee and yarn today. Look at this beautiful yarn, it is Jitterbug in the colorway "Jay". I also have a delicious smelling coffee called pumpkin spice. I can't wait to put my little darlings to bed and have a cup of this wonderful aroma. I had never done a swap before and I have to say it was a lot of fun. The anticipation and then the ultimate surprise when the package came.....I can't wait to do it again! Thanks Jeanine! I will think of SoHo whenever I wear the future socks. Hmmm....what pattern to knit.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!!

Well, after a brief hiatus to celebrate and regroup I am back. The Christmas decorations are put away, most of the holiday treats have been eaten (or will be thrown away tomorrow) and I am ready to face the new year. Speedy B asked me this morning if I was happy it was 2007. My response was it is just another year, but of course that is not true. Each January 1st brings with it the hope that in a new year I will be able to....fill in the blank. So it is with anticipation that I begin 2007 with the following ... spiritual goals, a list of books to read, projects to knit, home projects to complete, and of course health to improve.

During the break I was able to read, I finished a series of "spy thrillers" a friend from church recommended. They reminded me why I don't read that type of book anymore. Books like that, for me, tend to be all consuming, but when I reflect on what I have read there is not much remembered. Other than good wins out over evil the books don't have many redeeming qualities. If I am going to spend my time reading, I want it to edify my life. So when I finished the last spy novel, I went back to my classics. I am now almost finished with Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. I will give a review in a future post.

I also completed my second pair of socks. They were so fun to knit...and quick just what I like, immediate gratification. If I had been able to just sit and knit I would have finished them in a few days.

I used Socks that Rock by Blue Moon Fiber. The color is Xmas Rock. The yarn is absolutely wonderful to knit with and the hank probably had enough yarn to complete another set of socks.
I have also begun a baby afghan for a friend. It is the softest pink, just almost white. I am doing a feather and fan pattern that is going fairly quickly. But now that I am back to "real life" I am worried about finding spare time to complete it.
Happy New Year!