Sunday, October 28, 2007

I've Got Some Catchin' Up To Do...

Where does the time go? I've managed to keep up with the weekly topics, but other than that I haven't done much posting. I was out of town for several days a couple weeks ago, as I attended teachers convention. I would have rather stayed home and worked in my classroom, but we all went, and had a fun time. Look at the snazzy dessert they served at the keynote luncheon. The desserts were at our places when we got there, and the tables looked just beautiful!! I was surprised at the delicious meal they served us. Very nice!

I finished my bag for my Fall Felted Bag Exchange Pal and put it in the mail today. The picture isn't very flattering.... it actually looks quite cute in "real life"!! I ended up making my own buttons out of polymer clay, which was fun. I took a close-up pic of them, but it turned out blurry. My pal said she likes bags that are embellished, so I took her at her word and went for it. Sure hope she likes it!
And, I found out about a CONTEST!! Pop on over to the Knittin Coop and wish her a happy 2nd blogiversary! She wants to meet more bloggers, so leave a comment, and be sure to tell her I sent you!

I seem to have lost my knitting mojo, with the exception of dishcloths. I've got so many projects I want to start, but I can't seem to get any of them rolling. I just keep saying to myself, "Well, maybe I'll make another dishcloth". I do believe I'm stuck in a rut. I'm headed to Minneapolis later this week, so I really want something fun to work on during the trip, as that's about 5-1/2 hours of knitting time each way.

My dad, who lives in Arizona, lost his wife on Friday. She's from the twin cities, so the funeral will be there. She's lingered for quite some time, suffering with Alzheimers. My dad told me that watching her deteriorate like that is the hardest thing he's ever been through in his life, including his experiences in Germany during WWII.

I know I talked about my mom's problems with her mobility in an earlier post, and now it's been decided that she'll have a total knee replacement on November 12. I really dread that, as she's had a knee and a hip done before, and she doesn't do well with those surgerys. With the hip she was in the hospital for 21 days, and we thought we were going to lose her.

So, I'm in a whirlwind trying to get ahead of the game and be ready to be gone from school both during this week, and then again the week of Nov. 12. I must say I'm feeling overwhelmed.

On a lighter note, I do have a picture of one of my finished dishrags! It's the first time I've used this pattern, and I really like it. Have already made another one, in fact. I recently ordered a few more patterns from Harvest Moon Designs, and this is one of them. Their patterns are so well written and easy to follow. If you've never checked out their site, you should. Lots of great dishrag eye candy!! Isn't the yarn gorgeous? It looks good enough to eat! It's a hand dyed that I bought on ebay some time ago, and now I wish I'd gotten more.

Guess I better get to bed. Morning comes so early, and I am NOT a morning person....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Winter Wonderland Coffee Swap Questionnaire

COFFEE~~
What are your favorite kinds of coffee? I enjoy Starbucks, Caribou, or any other brand of good quality coffee. I enjoy Breakfast blends, as well as rich, full-bodied roasts.
Do you prefer whole bean or ground coffee? Whole bean.
This time of year, there are often Holiday Blends available, and many flavored coffees - do you drink flavored coffee? Do you enjoy special blends? Yes to both!!
How do you take your coffee? Cream and Sugar? Straight up? Decaf? No decaf. I often drink it black, but must confess to really enjoying a splash of International Delight in my coffee. My newest fave flavor is Bavarian White Chocolate. Yum!!
Do you prefer drinking from a nice thick mug, or a matched cup and saucer? Mugs... but not necessarily big and thick. I have some tall, slim English Bone China mugs that I Iove to use. I also like fun, pretty mugs, though I prefer it if they're not too big and clunky.

WINTER HOLIDAYS~~
What is your favorite part of Winter? Oh, that's a good one!! It has to be rushing to my frozen car after work in a 40 below wind chill only to go head over teakettle on the ice and twist the living daylights out of my knee! Not really... I don't mean that... there are other things about winter that are EVEN BETTER!! Seriously, I do love it when we get that rare snowfall with flakes so huge you can hear them hit the ground. When that happens, there's no wind, and the big clumps fall straight down and sparkle like diamonds. Those "big flake" snowfalls are always very short lived, and to me there's just something very cozy and comforting about that "type" of snow.
Do you celebrate a holiday in December, and if so, which holiday? We celebrate Christmas, and we do put up a tree.
Would you enjoy items related to the holiday, or would you prefer a Winter themed package? Either one would be wonderful. However, I do like decorations that are more artsy, as I'm not a big fan of "cute".
Do you collect anything? There are many things that I enjoy and have a few of, but not really anything that I collect.
Are there any holiday or winter-themed items (Snowmen, Angels, Snoflakes, Santas, etc) that you collect? I do have a few snowmen, and really like them. I have a couple made by Lang, and they're SO fun. My son gave me a Willow Tree angel last year, and I love it! I would like to add a couple more of them to my shelf sometime.
Do you wear scarves? Mittens? Hats? I'm bad about just throwing on my coat and heading out the door, but I do like to wear scarves sometimes. I wear gloves rather than mittens, and seldom wear a hat--only when it's storming and I have to clean off my car after work!!
What is your favorite holiday or winter treat? Something hot and yummy to drink.... a nice mocha or latte hits the spot, or sometimes a flavored hot chocolate is fun. And popcorn. I love sitting down with a bowl of nice, hot kettle corn!
Please share a favorite Winter or Holiday memory. We have three couples who we've been friends with for over 30 years, and our kids have grown up together. Each year we get together for a Christmas celebration sometime during the holiday season. We do "family" gifts, and in the past our kids would also exchange presents among themselves. It got more and more difficult to find things to buy for the kids, so one year we decided to ask them if they'd like to give gifts to a needy family instead of getting gifts themselves. They all liked the idea right away, which kind of surprised us, so we pooled all the money we would have spent on each others children and bought clothes, toys, and groceries for a needy family we knew that went to our church. Once everything was wrapped and ready, we dropped it off at their door, rang the doorbell, and took off. Doing that allowed us to feel the true spirit of what Christmas is all about, and seeing our children participating and getting so much joy out of giving was a special blessing for us as parents.

YARN AND CRAFTING~~
Do you Knit or Crochet? For how long? I learned both from my grandma when I was very young. However, it was crochet I took to, and did lots of it over the years. About three years ago I decided to expand my knitting horizons, and found that I love it!! It started with scarves and progressed to felted bags. Now I want to try anything and everything!!
Do you like wooden, metal, or plastic needles? Circular or straight? I use both wood and metal needles. I have wood straights and circs, and I recently bought a few addi turbo circs, and find I like them very much, as well.
What sort of projects do you enjoy making? I love making felted bags... they really got me hooked on knitting. Lately I've been just nuts about knitting dishcloths, making one after the other. Some things I'm planning to start are a couple of shawls, some felted slippers, a non-felted handbag, fingerless gloves, and some mobius projects such as a scarf and some bowls.
What are your favorite types of yarn to work with? I love wool, and also cotton. I have to like the way yarn looks and feels, and then if I think it will wear well and hopefully not pill, I'll give it a try.
Do you spin or dye? No, but it sure looks like fun!
Do you do other crafts? I've done a lot of beading, though not recently, and a really miss it.

GENERAL~~
When is your birthday? April 25.
Do you have any children? (Furry kind count!) My husband and I have three sons ages 25, 21, and 21. We also have two dogs, one of which is snoring very loudly right now! Flex and Jayda are 6-1/2 year old Boxers.
What are your favorite colors? I like rich colors: teals, berry shades, navy... jewel tones. I'm not a fan of brights and pastels.
Do you have any allergies? No.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fall Felted Bag Exchange Weekly Topic # 4

What was your favorite Halloween costume ever - for you? I had a great time dressing up one year as a very "unusual" woman. Just a bunch of little things that added up to one hilarious looking old bag, I guess. I put stuff in my hair to make it look greasy, grimy and gross, and then pulled a silly looking knit hat with a brim down over it. No make-up, of course, and I blackened out one of my front teeth. At the thrift store I found a "lovely" dress about 8 sizes too big for me, and a bra of the same magnitude. I filled plastic bags with oatmeal and used them to fill up the bra cups. Then cinched in the waist of the dress over my padded figure. Old snow boots over mismatched socks and rolled down knee-high nylons completed the ensemble. What a babe I was!! I guess what made it so memorable, was that several of my friends did similar things, and we went shopping and out to eat in our lovely get-ups! Since this little outing wasn't actually on October 31, we were treated to some very inquisitive looks. More than worth the price of admission. for your kids, if you have them? The very first costume both of my boys wore was a little pumpkin outfit I made them. It was just a printed cape with a "stem" for a hat, but they were just little, and looked so adorable in it. Another time when my oldest was about 4 or so, I made him up to look like a little old man. Baggy pants... suspenders... flannel shirt... slouch hat. He had pillows both in front and back, belted into place, so he was just round. Then I used Vaseline and coffee grounds to give him some whiskers. His sweet little face peering out from that get-up was just too cute. Why did you enjoy it so much? Because it was funny and made me laugh. The funnier and goofier the costumes were, the better I liked them. Do you still dress up now? Nope. Don't do Halloween at all any more, except to hand out candy to my little visitors. Met a woman who'd at one time been involved with the "darker" side of Halloween, and through her I learned what it is really about, and some of the things that go on that we don't realize. Very scary stuff--I could no longer look at Halloween as being fun and innocent.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall Into Autumn Topic of the Week #6

Now that it is getting cooler here, it makes me think of apple picking and hay rides. Are you the type that likes to go to participate in all the fall festivities like apple picking, pumpkins, decorating for the fall, hay rides, baking fall goodies, etc. or do you just sit and count the days till Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah?

No day counting here--- I only wish things would slow down and give me some extra time before the holidays. Where on earth does the time go??
I enjoy decorating, and have fall things that I love to put out every year. I have a basket of gourds on my coffee table, and a fun welcoming scarecrow that hangs outside my front door. I put out table squares and placemats with fall colored leaves and pumpkins on them, and I have a Longaberger basket that's shaped kind of "pumpkinish" and has a stem for the handle.
I've never been apple picking - except in my front yard - nor have I harvested pumpkins. Does sound like fun, though. I can't remember the last time I went on a hayride, but I sure would if I had the chance!
And as a side note... I had a THICK layer of frost on my car this morning when I left for work! Guess it's time to start parking in the garage.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My Tea Pal Has Spoiled Me!!!

When I arrived home from work on Thursday, I found a UPS box on the corner of my step, "cleverly disguised" by having been covered with my door mat! Oh Happy Day... it was my Knit One Tea Too package from Cassie, of time warp fiber.

She put together the most thoughtful grouping of fun stuff for me. This is what I found when I opened the box:
Look at the adorable card! And that blue "square-topped shape" sticking out of the teapot is an actual teabag--Harney & Sons Orange Pekoe! How cute is that?!? The KnitPicks Memories yarn is GORGEOUS!! The color is Redwood Forest, and Cassie described it as being "lots of the colors of tea", which it is. Rich reds, browns, and greens. I tried to get a close up of the colors, but they washed out so much with the flash that there's no point in even showing them. I can hardly wait to knit something up with it. Then the Sugar & Cream is also a color I love. It's called Jute, but I like Cassies description of "tea and milk" much better! I promptly went to Harvest Moon Designs and ordered a new dishcloth pattern (or two, or more!!) to use with my new cotton! Check out the fun tea themed napkins.... and the wonderfully scented Jasmine candles... and the cute knit "sweater" for my tea mug. And since I wear sandals every day of my life that it isn't so cold that my toes turn blue and threaten to fall off, I got a little "whale" to help keep my feel smooth and comfy! (I just typed "mapkins" instead of "napkins"--- Made me smile, cause that's what my oldest son always called them when he was little!) And of course, the tea and goodies. Two kinds of tea with vanilla, which are perfect for me. I haven't tried either one of them before, and I know I'll love them. And a yummy muffin mix. Cassie wants me to eat one with a cup of rum vanilla tea, which I promise to do!Finally, I got a fun little "tour" of her own tea collection. These arrived with the little "mug sweater" wrapped around them! I look forward to trying each and every one of them!

Thank you SO MUCH, Cassie!!!

You have been a thoughtful and fun pal!

I have really enjoyed getting to

know you a little!

Fall Into Autumn Topic of the Week # 5

So for the Topic of the week: Flash your needles and other items you use to make your wares: Dpns, circs, straights, hooks, tape measures, darning needles, favorite stitch markers, needle holders, cases, the works!
Well I certainly don't have the stash that many of you do, as I haven't been knitting all that long, but things do tend to collect, don't they? Knitting wares also have the ability to wander off, I believe, because this "stash flashing" project got me hunting for some things, which I never did find!! I take good care of my things, put them away for safe keeping, but still they disappear. I've looked where they should be, where they could be, where they might be, and where they must be because they're not any of the other places. All to no avail. You know how it is... they'll turn up unexpected one day in the most unlikely spot, and I still won't know how they got there. I think I'll blame the dog; she does seem to have in interest in all things knitting!!!

My needles have a tendency to be here and there--some in a drawer, some in a vase, some in my needlework basket, but I'm going to change that. I think the wooden box will make a great home for them, so all the straights, and probably the dpn's as well, are moving in there.

This little assignment forced me to do some cleaning, winding, and organizing, and that's a good thing!! Plus, I've really enjoyed checking out other peoples wares on their blogs. I've seen some great storage ideas that I'd love to have some day!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fall Felted Bag Exchange Weekly Topic # 3

How often do you change the purse or bag you're carrying? With all the fun bags there are, and I certainly have my share, you'd think I'd change more often than I do, but when I get real comfy with a purse it's hard for me to move on!!
Do you change based on seasons? I probably tend to change with seasons more than anything. I like to carry something "summery" and "fun" when it's hot, and in the winter I tend to use a "reliable workhorse"!!

Outfits? Sometimes, especially if it's a special occasion. Or even if I'm just in the "mood".

Something else? Well, if I'm attending a craft show or similar event where I don't want to lug my loaded bag, I have a small Coach purse that holds some cash, check blanks, and a credit card. Then I throw in some lip balm, Advil (sore feet, you know!!), a pen, and maybe some tissue. It's small, light, and holds only the "musts". Works great!

What's your favorite bag in the world (and it doesn't have to be a knit/felted one!)? Hmmm..... that's a tough one, but I think I would have to go with my Black and Brass Coach Willis Bag. Everything fits just right, it's got just enough pockets, black goes with everything, and it's an all around comfortable bag to carry. It's a great basic bag, and I love it. Hubby has my camera today, so I can't take a picture of it, but I do have a picture of the felted bag I'm carrying right now. I knit it with one strand of Patons SWS and one of Lamb's Pride, which gave it the nubby look. I do get quite a few comments on this purse.
I made a lot of felted bags before I actually started carrying one myself, but this one has worked out well for me. Just today during my break at school I was going through a pattern book trying to decide which bag to make for myself next. I've kinda got a hankering for a new one!!

Mmmm... Is That Fresh Coffee I Smell??

Or maybe it's just the excitement about the Winter Wonderland Coffee Swap that's coming up soon! Anne and Holly will be hosting this swap, and it's sure to be a fun one. I'm just finishing up the Knit One Tea Too Swap, which was GREAT, so next.... it's gotta be coffee! Sign ups start on October 24, so don't miss out!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

And They Call it "The Golden Years"....

I know there are others of you who are faced with the struggle of watching your parent(s) grow old. It's so hard; such a heartache. My mom is a treasure, and always has been. She's almost 86 years old, and is blessed with a sharp mind, excellent general health, and a sense of humor that ROCKS! What she doesn't have is good joints. Both her knee and hip were replaced on one side, and now the other knee is so bad that her leg is useless.

Sometimes she can't get up out of her chair. Sometimes she can get up, but then can't move for 20 minutes because her knee won't support any weight. She has a scooter, but has so much trouble getting on and off of it that it's dangerous. She's fallen five times within the last few weeks because her knee gives out, and down she goes. Thankfully, she's not been seriously hurt because of the falls.

Yesterday morning she called me at 7:30, needing my help because she'd been on her scooter since 2:00 the previous afternoon and couldn't get off by herself to go to the bathroom. That's 17-1/2 hours.

My brother came home yesterday, and tomorrow he and I are taking Mom to an orthopedic doctor. She more than likely needs a new knee, but at her age they may not want to do it, especially given her history of having a very difficult time recovering from surgery. She was in the hospital for 21 days when she had her hip replaced, and we thought we were going to lose her. Unless there's something they can do for her, she won't be able to live alone any more. My little bro and I are heartsick at the thought of Mom having to live in a home, especially since her only problem is mobility.

And of course my mom is only one of the millions of elderly who struggle and agonize to get through each and every day. I know it's part of life, and we all have to do it, but getting old stinks. The "GOLDEN" years.... uh uh.... doesn't seem very "golden" to me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fall Felted Bag Exchange Weekly Topic # 2

The colors of fall tend to be oranges, yellows, crimsons, and other 'leafy' colors - what is your favorite "Color of Autumn" and where do you see it?

Hmmm.... that's a tough question. I'm not a fan of yellows and oranges, however in nature, they're absolutely glorious. I think I'll have to go with the crimsons, though, because I just love wine and burgundy shades, and deep plums and fuschias. I see them every day, because I've decorated with them in my home. The 'bottom half' of the walls in my office are a winey shade, and I also have two chairs that color in my living room. There are touches of it in the sofa and loveseat, as well.

I didn't gravitate toward these colors when I was younger, but I've grown to like them more as I've matured. Just like a fine wine, better with age, right?? :o)

Fall Into Autumn Topic of the Week # 4~~

Are there any recipes you especially enjoy having in the Fall? Any foods that are seasonal that you especially enjoy? Some of the fall recipes I enjoy tend to be things we serve on Thanksgiving. LIke pumpkin pie, and steamed cranberry pudding. I got the pudding recipe from my great aunt many years ago, when I was a kid, really, after having it at her home and thinking it was just the most wonderful thing ever! In case you're curious, here's how it's made:

Steamed Cranberry Pudding

1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups cranberries, cut in halves
Pinch of salt
1-2 cup light molasses
1/2 cup hot water
2 scant tsp. soda

Mix flour, berries, and salt. Combine molasses, soda and hot water and mix into flour and cranberries.

Butter the top of a double boiler, add the pudding, and steam over boiling water for 2-1/2 hours.

Sauce:

1 cup sugar 1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cream 1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, butter, & cream and heat together. Mix in vanilla. Serve hot over puddding. May add pecans to the butter sauce.

Obviously, the pudding is pretty undramatic... it's the buttery sauce that makes it good. My boys even like this, and they tend to be uninterested in most desserts.

I also think that hot, steamy drinks take on a whole new appeal in the fall. I'm not sure why it is, but things like coffee and tea have a different "personality" in the fall and winter than they have in the summer. And hot chocolate, of course!