family, knitting, living

Author Archive

Today is World MS Awareness Day

More than likely you know someone, love someone or will meet someone with MS at some point in your life.  Today is World MS Awareness Day.  Here is the link to the National MS Society’s homepage.  Please take a minute to look at the site and if you are so moved…act on it.  Thank you.

C is for Crafting Our Lives

Craft is both a noun and a verb.  The noun craft means, among other things, a skill or ability, especially in handwork.  The verb craft means, among other things, to make or fashion with skill.
In college while working on my BFA, majoring in metalsmithing and minoring in sculpture, I had a tenuous and stressful relationship with the notion of “craft.”  In the academic context, “craft” was second tier due to the utilitarian implications of a craft, such as jewelry making, ceramics, fabric arts, etc.  It seemed the only way to legitimize that kind of handwork was to turn it on its head.  Even then, irony reigned supreme when dealing with “crafts.”  On the other hand, my sculpture professor railed about the lack of craftsmanship in some of my peers work.  Craft has forever been a word loaded with meaning for me.
Today, I have allowed myself a little more freedom and take a little more comfort in using the word craft.  I think I prefer craft as a verb and the definition of “to make something with skill.”  Arguably, not everything I do is with the skill of an expert, some may say none of what I do is expert.
Here are some of the thins I have been crafting this week.  not all of them were perfect, but they were done with love and a sincere commitment to doing the best I could at the time.
This is a wall organizer I hacked for my husband.  Henry looses his keys, his wallet and his phone on a daily basis.  I decided that he needed a place to charge his phone, stash his wallet, camera and keys that could live at the front door.  I knew I wanted it to hang on the wall so it was not more clutter on the table.  So, I found these Real Simple wall pouches.  I really liked them other than the bland canvas.  I jazzed them up a bit with some Anna Marie Horner fabric  .  (Nashvillan, by the way)  The little pocket is for his cell phone and enables him to plug it in for charging and hang it!  He really likes it and i am really happy I have crafted up some piece for me and him…now I don’t have to nag and he doesn’t have to stomp around looking for his phone!
These are lotion bars I crafted with my friend Aziza.  We are trying to get a little cottage business started.  we are currently focusing on finding the best organic ingredients, perfecting our methods and packaging these little jewels.  They are beeswax, cocoa butter and shea butter.  They smell so good and have no fragrance at all.  Our little lotion bars are more than just lotion bars, they are the product of a couple of women crafting a friendship.
This little picture is terribly hard to see, I know.  But, trust me, it is one of my most favorite things I am currently crafting at the moment.  This is an apron for one of Mycah’s teachers.  Another mom, my friend Camille, is making one just like it for the other teacher in the class.  Mycah is in a mixed age kindergarten.  They are 4, 5 and 6 year olds.  We had them write their own names on a piece of paper and then laid them out in a pleasing composition and transferred them tot he aprons.  We are now embroidering each child’s name.  Each little name I embroider causes me to think of that little person.  The handwriting even looks like each child.  Mycah’s teachers are amazing women and I hope that the little imprint each child left on this apron will remind them of the love those children feel for them.  Camille adapted this idea from Amanda Soule’s book, the Creative Family.  Amanda embroidered her children’s drawings onto linen for simple, beautiful bookmarks.  I thought this was a great adaptation that Camille thought up and cannot wait to finish it so the teachers can enjoy them.
The last set of pictures is from my most important and ongoing project…my family.  Henry and I spend a good deal of time crafting our lives and those of our girls’.  Growing a family is a craft, a skill on is not born with and one that no one tells you how to do.  This was Saturday night a tour first neighborhood movie in the park night.  We walked the 2ish blocks to the park dragging our trusty and dilapidated red wagon filled with a blanket, bug spray, glow sticks and snacks.  The movie of the night was The Goonies.  It was an amazing night, one well worth the effort, just like any fine craft!
Whoops…forgot my little ironic song………..

B is for Big Brown Blobs

Let me say this….I LOVE my husband.  As proof I give you…the big brown blob.  Yes, I can even prove how much I love him.  I am 630 yard into a never-ending garter stitch outdoor sweater for him in ….wait for it……brown.  I have never knit Henry a sweater even though I have promised before.  This year is our ten-year anniversary.  (he say 17 years if you count the 7ish we loved together!)  Anyway, I desperately want to give him a sweater he will wear and love for our anniversary.  So around Christmas I started the search for the perfect sweater.  Most were met with great resistance.  In a last-ditch effort, I pulled three sweaters that I felt like we down his alley.  He saw the Adult Tomten by Jared Flood (original is Elizabeth Zimmermann) and he was hooked.  I brought home three different skeins of yarn fo varying weights and colors and nothing pleased him.  So, I said how about the yarn Jared used and of course he said yes but felt the colors were not what he wanted.  So, he picked out a brown  and with probably go with a green for the stripes and edging.  Here’s Jared’s version  .  Anyway, I have been knitting on this for a month and am only finally about ready to divide the fronts.  Of course, once I do get there, it should move along much faster….but boy am I slogging away in brown garter stitch land now!

I almost forgot to include one of myfavorite songs for me and Henry…    

Alphabet Lost and Found

For better or worse, I have decided to join the The ABC’s with the Accidental Knitter.  This is a once a week posting theme based on the ABC’s.  We will post a topic beginning with the week’s letter of the alphabet every Monday.  I have been looking for a way to get back into to posting and I am hoping this is just arbitrary enough to suit me.  We were supposed to start last week with A.  Obviously, it didn’t happen.  So, I will post A tonight and hopefully put up B tomorrow.  I have a ridiculous backlog of photos, projects, stories, etc.  I just felt compelled to link the Might Be Giants song Alphabet Lost and Found because it is so cute and it starts with A.

Here’s a cut picture of Allison’s two littlest and my two making some no bake cookies.  Henry and I took Allison’s oldest and ours to the used bookstore today and Mycah bought a couple of cookbooks.  She immediately began pouring over them and located a simple recipe that we could make with many hands!

Vote for a blog I read daily…

I subscribe to a blog called the Wheelchair Kamikaze.  Mark is a totally engaging, irreverent, and informative blogger.  He blogs about MS….specifically his search for some answers and clarity about his primary progressive MS.  While we do not share the same type of MS, we do share a refusal to allow MS to win.  I have found his current discussion and investigation into CCVS to be balanced while still championing further investigation.  I also just like him because he was in film and takes some great photos.

Anyway, the point of this post is that he is up for a nomination for the best patient blog…..take a minute and vote for him….. .

Knitted Farmyard, 3rd update

We have made some pretty heady progress on the farmyard today.  All of the canvas is covered and Henry has made the initial layout of the bushes.  I have almost completed the farmer and two friends are making a piece each.  One will make the momma and the other a child.  Henry and I decided that I will construct the house out of that plastic canvas stuff and cover it with fabric.  I will make it hollow so that the hay bales, people, animals and misc can be stored inside.  It is going to be so cute and soooo hard to part with!

Second update, Knitted farmyard

Today was craftapalooza at our house… named because I had five extra girls and one mom at my house to make valentines.  Yes, you heard me right, I had a total of 7 girls 5-9 and another mom and Henry at my house today.  The picture to the left and the picture below show my dining room table covered in the various and sundry items used in making the valentines.  The girls all go to a school where they are to make the valentines…no store bought crap for this crew.  So, I felt like we would take the opportunity to get a jump on the Valentine making since I had to keep two of the girls today anyway.  The girls had a blast.  Besides the Valentine making, the girls helped make pompoms for the knitted farmyard as evidenced later in the post.  They had more fun making them for themselves, but I did get a few out of them for the farm.  They also had lunch, hid in the back bedroom and whispered, ran around like nut cases and had various little girl dramas all day.  All in all, it was a lot of fun.

This is the photo of our dinner.  I made homemade French Onion soup and used my homemade bread for the toast layer.  Mycah had two bowls, so did Henry.  Grey had a bowl and a half.  It was a big, big hit.  Henry was a little suspect of the idea of French Onion soup.  He likes it, but everywhere we have the soup it is way too salty.  I knew his objection because I have the same one, so Mycah and I both tasted the soup BEFORE adding salt and then added a little at a time until it was perfect.  Henry had bought me these little crocks the other day when I mentioned for the second time that I sure would like to have them.  The girls loved having their own crock with a lid and everything.  I used the Mark Bittman recipe out of How to Cook Everything.   Lori turned me on to him a few months back and I bought his book.  It is great.  The recipes are really good and he discusses substitutions for seasonality, explains lots of things I had not know and give lots of variations for most of the recipes. i also bought How to Cook Everything Vegetarian based on my happiness with the other book and it is a winner too.

These last two photos show the progress on the knitted farmyard.  Henry made the little hay bales for the field of hay. I love them.  I have pinned down the additional fabric for the hay and the grass. The blank spot will be the only latch hooked area as latch hooking doesn’t agree with me.  The pompoms are little bushes.  They are not sewn down yet.  That will be one of my last things.  I have made one chicken and am still working of the dad.  The knitting part of the knitting farmyard should be the easiest for me, but it has turned out to be the slowest and most fiddley.  It’s well on its way to being completed, so I will soldier on.

Have a great, crafty evening and love to my family across the pond, in the burbs, on the ridge and in the hills of GA!

Update on the farmyard

Henry and I have made a good deal of progress on the play mat portion of the Knitted Farmyard, but not much on the actual animals and such.  I need to get on the stick and let the other moms know what is needed.  I think we will have to make a less ambitious farm.  I am thinking we will have 4 or 5 hens, a pig, a horse, a cow and a donkey.  We will have the house, the mom and dad and a baby, but probably not any other children.  We will also have hay bales and cabbages in the fields.  I think the farm should still be a pretty nice set.  I just need to limit exactly how much we need as we only have one month to complete it.  We have discovered that the pompom make makes amazing bushes and trees.  This saves us from having to latch hook and sculpt a bunch of places and our girls LOVE to make pompoms.  Here is an updated photo…..

We have a snow day tomorrow, so we plan on staying home and getting a lot done on this guy.  Also, I have learned to crochet little hearts.  I am making a ton for the girls to use on their handmade valentines for their classmates. I am very proud of my meager crocheting and the girls seem pleased.  I think they will work on valentines this weekend as well.  They have friends coming over on Saturday and it seems like a great thing to keep all of them busy while getting something done that has to be done anyway.

Knitted (sort of) Farmyard

In August our girls started a new school.  The school is a small private Waldorf school.  (for those interested in learning a little more, here is a Wikipedia reference )  There is a lot more to Waldorf education than a Wiki reference, but you get the picture.  Anyway, it is a very small school, only one class per grade in grades 1-8 and two mixed age classes of pre-school and kindergarteners.  The school does a lot of community outreach in order to keep things going as the tuition alone would not float the school.  There are two big fundraisers every year.  The first is the Elves Fair in November and the second is the Gala in the spring.  Part of the Gala is an auction……….I’m sure you can see where this is going……

I have decided to make a knitted farmyard inspired by Wernhard Hannelore.  Her book is here on Amazon

I say inspired because since I really got to looking at the book, I thought that the author had lost her mind.  The entire play mat is made on a base of latch hook rug canvas.  It is hooked and embroidered into the rug.  I had Henry draw out the portions I thought I’d like to have and then we sat down to watch a movie with the girls while I started the embroidery on the pond.  I worked for an hour and then Henry worked for the second hour with very little to show for the time invested.  I was getting vey discouraged when henry said….how about cutting up some Goodwill sweaters.  EUREKA!  I went to Goodwill yesterday and scored some great fabric that had no business being worn in the style in which they were made….so no great fashion has been harmed in the making of this object.  I have started piecing together the different sweater fabrics.  I will still have to latch hook bushes and maybe a field, but most of this will be a lot less labor intensive than I first planned.  The part that will be challenging is getting enough various little animals and people made.  I have several friends at school who have volunteered to knit something and one friend had volunteered to needle felt some animals for the farmyard.  I think the mixture of fiber crafts will make this project even more interesting than I originally thought.  I hope that it brings in some money for the school as well.  I plan to keep you updated for the next month on it’s progress…it should be interesting.





Lots of knitting, only one finished object

I have been knitting and crafting ever spare moment…or so it seems.  However, I feel like I do not have much to show for it.  My larger project is a vest for me/store sample, but it has been put on the backburner to craft for the Elves Fair at our girls’ school.  I have made numerous items for the fair, but I can’t show them.  (suffice it to say, the reason is too long to go into here)  So, we are left with the only finished object I have that I can show and they were knit in a flurry. One of  Mycah’s teachers is leaving to move to Chicago.  Mycah is crazy for her and so are we.  We will be very sad to see her go, but understand that she is young and needs to find her way.  I knew I had to knit her some mitts after finding out she was moving to the windy city.  I usually make the Fetchings when I need a quick project, but I have become bored with the pattern and wanted to try something new.  So, I made the Sourwood Mountain fingerless gloves.  I had a small boo-boo in the beginning.  I knit the cuff out of Lush thinking that I could get a second ball at the store, only to complete the cuff and then find out the color I had is no longer produced.  (the yarn has been in my stash for at least 4 years…if not more)  So, I had to start again.  This time I chose Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran.  It has great stitch definition, but I found the yarn to have a number of weak or broken plys along the way.  Very frustrating.  Of course, the day I have them ready to photograph turned into a soggy mess, so Henry had to photograph them tonight in the bathroom as this was the best light in the house.   He did a decent job given the conditions he had to work in!

Here they are….we will miss you Miss Fors!!!!!

The Kitchen is Finished!

Well folks, the kitchen..she is done!  I am in love.  I even Baked scones and made coffee yesterday.  We aren’t in the house, so I prepped the scones here and then took them to the new house to cook them.  I am in love with my range.  It rocks.  The library is 95% done.  All that is left is for the doors to the lower cabinets to be put back on.   Yes, back on…the stain was not as dark on the doors as on the rest of the cases, so they had to do them again.  The knobs have to be put on and the incredible ceiling fixture installed.  We have booked the movers for Wednesday, so we have to pack like crazy until then.  Bottom line, we will wake up at our old house on Wednesday morning and go to sleep in our new house Wednesday night!  Now, the only question is….do you know anyone in the market for a lovely 1937 Craftsman in the 12south district of Nashville?  

Waiting for the leaves to turn

I am waiting for the changes.  Some I wait for impatiently, some I dread, some have to happen, some can’t.  Changes are part of life.  The only end to change in one’s life is the end of one’s life.  I know this, but it doesn’t make some changes any easier.

We’ve spent all summer working on the new house…talk about a change!  The house is incredible and I cannot wait to move in, but I have to wait another week I think.  There are still a handful of things that need to happen and I don’t want to rush in where we are living in an uncomfortable situation.  It’s funny,  I am dying to move in, but I am nervous and worried at the same time.

My sisters are all having major changes happening in their lives.  I am standing on the sidelines waiting to see who needs to be picked up.  My stomach turns and churns watching and waiting for the last shoe to drop in all of these situations.  I know that at least two of the sisters will come out stronger on the other end, but I can’t stand to see them hurt, but the other sis…I’m not so sure about.

My girls have changed schools.  We put them in the local Waldorf school after three years of public school for the oldest and one for the youngest.  This was a very hard change to make.  We fell in love with  the school more than a year ago and have been planning this change for that long, but we still had tears from the oldest for the first couple of days.  It’s funny, she knows that this is where they belong, but she is still homesick for the other school.  They have both started to settle in and seem to really be blossoming.  They are wonderful girls (yes, I am biased, but this is true).  They are creative, curious, polite, full of wonder, adventurous, willing to try, and  good hearted….all of these things seem to help them fall right in with the other children and I look at their classmates and am amazed to find such confident, grounded little beings.  This has been a great change even with the challenges.

Speaking of changes, there are some I need to make (or I should say, Henry and I need to make).  On the health from the two of us are woefully unprepared to get older.  We need to clean up our diets and start exercising.  And I need to find a way to learn to let go of stress or at least not react so strongly to it.  The summer’s stress has caused me a hard summer and at least one minor exacerbation.  I need to get healthy physically, mentally and  emotionally to lull my MonSter back to sleep.  Once we finally get moved, the changes will be coming on that front.

Now I know most of you bother with my blog more for pictures and knitting than for the dribble above, so ask me how I meet all of these changes…  Well, I continue to knit.  As Elizabeth Zimmerman says, “Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises.”  I have not exactly produced a ton, but I have managed to continue to knit a little here and there throughout all of this junk and have a few things to show for the effort.  I made a baby jacket for a friend fo a friend and I knitted a big headed monkey for Mycah’s birthday.  I also started a vest for me for winter.  The only downside to the vest is that I have to borrow it back from the shop as Carolyn gave me the yarn to knit it for the shop sample!

New entry, without photos or finished objects!

I’ve spent most of my free time sewing with Lori today.  (the time that was not filled with making dinner, taking grey to a playdate, meeting with the contractor or the myriad fo other things that seem to happen over the course of a day)  Anyway, I cut out my pattern after extensive alterations to said pattern by Lori.  I happen to be very lucky as Lori is a fashion design and patterning instructor at a university in GA.  So, she worked on a commercial pattern that I purchased because it was similar to one of my favorite summer shirts.  I am very hot natured these days and I hate to wear unflattering things just because they are cooler.  So, I thought  I would make a few tops.  Lori have really worked on this pattern to get it to fit me and look the way I want.  Of course, i happen to like details…those little details  that make sewing something an absolute crazy pain in the ass and I am an adventurous beginner at best.  I made several error s this evening due to being tired and having a headache, so I have nothing to show you.  In the morning I will rip part of the neckline out and sew in the facing.  then I will hem tha shirt and I will be able to show you a beautiful finished object…………I hope.

On a totally different note, I started a pair of socks last night and they are going well.  They are infinitely more portable than the shawl that has to grow beyond comfortable portability!!!!

Randomness and Catch-up, again, again, again

I am determined to post tonight.  In all honesty I have wanted to post a number of times over the last month and have just become too irritated with the Mac to do it.  See, I have been a PC user until this past Christmas>  I needed a new computer, so Henry bought me the one I wanted terribly… MacBook Pro.  It is awesome, but I did not take a clas…I am not that kind of person, I like to figure things out on my own.  Unfortunately, the thing that would have helped me the most is what I need to post easily.  I need a simple explanation as to where to store things and how to access them easily so that I can load the photos into my post.  Agggghhhhh, I will beat this!

Anyway, onto the blog.  We are in the middle of renovation land at the moment.  The new house has had much work done to her and will have much more work to come.  Henry and I have painted the living room, the dining room, the guest room downstairs, and the girls playroom.  Now, while this may sound like no big deal, let me explain…..our gal is tall!  She has 12ft ceilings which required the purchase of a baker scaffold.  We have not turned on the air as we want the house to air out both the paint fumes and the order that she has acquired before our purchase.  Anyway, it is hot in TN.  It takes me and Henry 2 days per room to lay on two coats of paint.  The dining room took three days because we had to paint the poop-BROWN ceiling.  We still have the girls room, our room, two bathrooms and the yet to be completed kitchen to paint.

In addition to the painting, we will be ripping out the master bath due to some hidden water damage and not hidden hideousness and the kitchen will be finished by the contractor and a library will be built in the other guest room downstairs.   All of this is supposed to be complete by the end of July so that we can move in and get settled before the girls start school.  We are crazy!  We will make it.  Here are a couple of pictures for your enjoyment>>>

That’s the kitchen before.

Above is the before of the dining room.

In news unrelated to the house, I have been doing a bit of sewing, knitting and hand sewing.  I took a class with Lori at Textile Fabrics  .   The class was on reverse applique and was with Natalie Chanin.   It really got me excited about working on ANYTHING again.  I have barely knit in the last couple of months because of the house and because I had gone back to work temping for my old company.  I have been so busy and so tired, I have not felt like doing anything.  It was great to get my hands busy making something again.  The creating bug bit hard, so I took advantage of having Lori at hand and dug out two old unfinished sewing projects.  Last summer I attempted a dress for each girl and made some fatal errors in the construction.  This was before my week long sewing lesson with Lori.  I sheepishly dug them out to show her.  She said it was salvageable and we began to rip.  We ripped out most of my sewing, ironed and repaired.  Now, my girls each have the dresses I promised them last year.  I also cut out another dress for Grey last night and sewed it.  She was pretty pleased with it as well!

I would love to tell you more, but I will save it for later as this stupid post has taken an hour!!!!

Our Dream House

Several months ago Henry and I started discussing the possibility of finding a house with a little more yard.  When we left the farm, we moved into the city.  We are pretty urban….including the impossibly small lot.  We have enough room in the backyard for the kids to have a swing set and short of that, not much.  Now, we love our house, just not the lot.  So we started looking a bit.  We happened to go see a house during the six inches of snow that was for sale by owner.  It was amazing, but expensive and only had a little more than an acre.  At that time I thought I really wanted between 5 and 10 acres.  So, we had our realtor start looking a bit.  We spent a couple fo days looking at several houses with that kind of acreage.  The houses were nice, the acreage was good, but it turned out we felt so far OUT….sor far AWAY from everything.  It was a 20-30 minute drive to get the girls to school and nothing that we use was close.  The house that we saw during the snow was still for sale (I’m sure you see where this is going) and we sent our realtor to scope it out.  He LOVED it.   But, he thought it was a little over priced.  So, here is where a good realtor earns his money.  He got us a deal of a lifetime and the sellers got to move on with their lives.  This house met all of our requirements.  it is in the same neighborhood, it has an acre of land and it has character out the ass.  Yes, it was built in 1909 and has the woodwork to prove it.  We have some work to do as we are only the 4th owners, so some stuff has been done and some not, but it will be a labor of love.  We picked this house out together.  The girls spent two hours playing in the back yard playing.  It looks like a secret garden in the back, we will be enjoying this house for many, many years to come.  There is a beautiful staircase that I can picture the girls walking down when/if they marry!  All are welcome….come by whenever you want!

Here are a couple of pictures in our secret garden……

It’s that time again!

It’s MS awareness week.  I’ll be wearing my orange.  I will be making an effort to “Move It.”  I will take the time to answer questions or help you look for answers to questions for which I have no answer.

It seems a lifetime ago that I was free of MS.  But, at the same time, I feel very new to it.  I was diagnosed officially on the day before Thanksgiving in November 2005.  The intense search for answers began in February of that year, although, I had issues for three years prior to that.  I am pretty typical in both the time it took to get a diagnosis (a total of three years), the sneaky progression, my age at the time of diagnosis (35) and my gender (female).  I have also been very lucky in that, I have only had one relapse that put me down and I recovered from it quite well.

With that said, I would like to address one of the most distressing parts of MS.  Ironically, it is not really a symptom or a cause of MS.  But, it is a direct result of having a chronic disease and those with MS are just one of the millions who suffer with it.  I am talking about healthcare, most specifically, insurance.  I had great insurance while I was still in the workforce.  My employer paid about 60% of the cost and I contributed the remainder from my salary.  The process was pretty seemless and the insurance was both comprehensive and reliable.  Funny, I didn’t need it much before the MS.  Yes, I used it when I had the girls, but other than that, it was always just there.  The, the MS showed up and insurance stepped right in.  It paid for 3 MRI’s, a spinal tap, some crazy electrical thing to my muscles, numerous nuero visits, a second opinion and finally disease modifying drugs.  That was before the relapse that knocked the wind out of my sails.  That relapse caused me to reevaluate the stress in my life (stress can trigger a relapse…it’s thought).  The job I worked at was high stress and I loved it, but it was not the best for my health or for my family who wanted me around and helpful, not helpless.  So, I left my job.  Yes, I did this of my own accord.  I could have continued to work.  I could have had to continue to work, but I didn’t.  Once Cobra is up, I will be out on the open market looking for insurance.  The one good thing is that I now cannot be denied in TN.  Any insurance company writing in TN will have to allow me to purchase insurance.  However, they may charge whatever they feel necessary.  I now find myself in that odd place fo being the one who needs the very thing that is so hard to get when I used to be the one who had something, but barely needed it.

I am not sure what the answer is for healthcare/insurance reform in this country.  I know I am not the only one in this type of situation.  You can turn on the TV any day and hear a story just like mine.  I’d love to hear what others think about this issue.  It’s MS Awareness wekk….I will try not to wear my feelings on my sleeves and have an open dialogue with any who care to engage.

Snow Day Three….Bread

Just a quickie…made bread this morning.  One loaf for the yarn store gals and one for my family while I am working at the store.  The house smells so good and Henry and the girls are excited.  They love my bread, but I have been on a bread making hiatus since before Christmas!

Second Great Snow Day!

I am entirely too tired to write some long descriptive post.  So, you will have to deal with photos only.  I am starting a shawl with some local alpaca because I get to go with Lori to the Alpaca convention here.  She has several students who have placed well in their fashion design contest and I get to be her date for the tea!  Oh, forgot to mention….it is at the farm where I bought the alpaca I am making the shawl with.  It is a blend of 5 of their black alpacas.

Snow Days

Yes, folks…we have had a couple of real snow days.  By real, I mean we got about 5 inches of snow.  Now, I know for those friends of mine still in Iowa and now in MN, 5 inches is laughable……but in TN, 5 inches of snow makes the city stop, grown men and women turn into children and causes the grocery stores to run out of milk, bread AND toilet paper!

On Thursday evening, our school system called off school for Friday.  I got up Friday morning to find the streets barely damp.  We were very disappointed, but not surprised as this is par for the course in Nashville.  At 9am it started snowing in a manner that seemed promising.  It was not bad and I had to go to my Nanny’s because she had an ice maker line fail and I (being the busy body, ex-claims adjuster I am) had to make sure things were going as they should.  I wound up spending about 2 and a half hours there calling insurance companies, condo association, er services, etc.  By the time I was ready to leave, we had about an inch and a half.  No problem, I learned a lot about snow in Iowa.  While this is true, I failed to take into account that not everyone in Nashville went to Iowa with me.  I got on Briley Parkway only to find it at a stand still because there were 4 accidents all within 1 mile of each other!

I finally made it home and spent the rest of the day watching the snow accumulate, doing science experiments with the girls, cooking and seeming up a baby sweater while the girls painted a bird house next to me in their craft/toy room.  It was so cozy and lovely.  We had a great time.

We did not go sledding yesterday as I really wanted the snow to get to the point that it was deep enough to sled nicely.  So, this morning we got up ready for some serious sledding.  I planned to drive down to the park a mile from the house, but could not get the car out of the drive because I closed the gate last night and the gate must be dug out before we can open it.  So, we sledded our street, then the green at Waverly-Belmont and then at the park.  Henry and I pulled the girls most of the way there and back.  We did not have sleds because we lost them in the Iowa flood, so I bought inner tubes.  They worked pretty good after getting out technique down.  On the way back home we stopped at the Frothy Monkeys for hot chocolate and a late lunch.  It was a great time.  Now we are in, warm and fed.  I plan to do some knitting and bake some bread.  The girls are enjoying taking it easy after playing so hard and Henry is playing WOW.

I LOVE snow days!

Here’s some pics of our two snow days.

Christmas and New Years

Christmas was easy this year.  Easy is good….especially since Henry and I were not up to speed.  David, Lori and the twins came up the Thursday night before Christmas for the Solstice Party that Lori always hosts.  Since they are living in GA now, Doc and Cathy are kind enough to open their home for the party so that the tradition can be kept alive.  I miss all of the Murfreesboro folk and especially our supper clubs that we carried on for several years.  The Solstice party lets us relive those times at least once a year.  Anyway, we had the party on the Saturday evening before Christmas.  All was well and everyone had a great time.

Then, DUN_DUN_DA_DUNNNNNNN.  Disaster struck Monday.  I had to work at the yarn store and went in feeling ok.  But, Henry woke up feeling not so well.  At some point that day David started feeling bad.  Lori started downhill and I called Henry to bring me my headache medicine because I thought I was getting a migraine due to my upset tummy and headache.  He came in to drop off the medicine and looked awful.  I called right before I went home at 6:30 only to find out it had started.  David and Henry were throwing up and sick, sick, sick.  Lori was so nauseated she could not stand and I think she had a fever.  I ran to Walgreens for 7-up, ginger-ale and chicken soup.  I made it long enough to get everything set up for the sick house and then I was down (or up sick) all night.  Three of the four girls remained well and Mycah, the one who got sick, got a very mild case.  Needless to say, by Thursday evening, Henry and I were a bit better, but not really excited about Christmas.  Henry’s tummy recovered much better than mine and he was able to eat on Christmas…..I was still picking the day after Christmas.

Thank goodness most everything was done before the illness struck and our family had made a joint decision to focus on spending time with one another rather than going over the top with things.  It worked out wonderfully.  The girls opened presents and played Christmas morning.  Then we went to the Ladd Christmas (dad’s) at my cousin’s new house.  They were great hosts and we had a good time.  me and Henry made gingerbread houses with  the little kids while the adults played White Elephant.  Then, best of all, was the day after Christmas.  We went to Mom’s.  She had decided to do Christmas the day after so that we could all be there and not be rushed.  We would up staying most of the day.  We ate, knitted, chatted and the kids played.  Of course, there were presents.  Mycah’s favorite toy this year happened to be from Meme.  She got a full child sized drum set.  She has had the best time jamming on the drums.

After we all got better and all Christmas activities were over, Henry, the girls and I went to GA to spend New Years with David, Lori and the twins.  There was a full moon on New Years Eve, so Henry went scouting for the local fairy cows.  He successfully found them and was able to convince them to give him enough Fairy Milk for all four girls.  They have now had fairy milk at the farm in Christiana, Meme’s, our Iowa City apartment, our new house and now, GA.  It’s a good thing Poppa knows how to talk to the local fairies and he must have developed a good reputation with them, so that all seem pretty willing to help him out with an emergency fairy milk run.

On New Year’s Day, the big girls introduced the little ones to the rip stick, snappers and confetti poppers.  Fun was had by all.

My favorite moment of the whole couple of weeks was the one where Mycah crawled into my arms for an afternoon nap.  She is in perpetual motion at all times, so the slow down was wlecome adn so, so sweet.

Whew…..glad I got that off my chest!!!!!

Agde..the Mediterranian a’la Christophe

Here is yet another (and much belated) installment on the France trip.  Unfortunately, I cannot figure out how to copy the photos from Flickr to my desktop so that I can then put them in my blog.  There is a back story here.  I lost my camera the second day I was in France.  We went mushrooming at the ass-crack of sawn in the mountains.  I was trudging around the woods with my camera in my pocket and it fell out!  I did not know until we got back to the car and there was no way to back track when we had been zigzagging across the side of a forested hill looking for mushrooms and not paying attention to any particular landmarks (like the thousands of pines that all look alike).  So, I used Becca’s camera and downloaded them to Flickr every night.  This was not really an issue until today.  I had to replace my computer because it is on its last leg.  I decided to go over to the dark side and we bought a MAC.  Now, I have to say I am in love….but there is no “right-click” which means I can’t steal my own photos back from Flickr.  AGHHHHH.

So, here is the link for those of you who are really curious.

Agde is the largest resort town in the south of France and a destination for French wanting to escape the cities and frolic on the beach.  It is beautiful.  The beaches are very rocky….even the sand is black from the pulverized rocks and shells.  The contrast of the black against the heartbreakingly beautiful blue of the sea and the sky is stunning.  Of course, it was pretty cool when we were there, about 60 and not many were swimming, but many were walking the beaches.  Remi and Alex got a bit wet, but even they decided it was too cool for much of a dip.   The town is full of stores on a boardwalk kind of area.  Many of the stores were closed for the season, but there was still plenty to be had, should we have had the need for questionable beachwear or some moonwalk stilts!   The boardwalk area is right on the sea.  The docks are on one side of the walk and the shops and building on the other.  I found a boat named “diane” at the dock and I asked Becca if the name Dianne was popular in France.  She snickered and asked if I really wanted to know.  Of course, I did….she said that men name their best hunting dogs “Diane” after the goddess of the hunt.  Christophe said she was correct and he even owned a dog named Diane at one point and she was an excellent hunting dog.  Oh well, at least they reserve my name for the BEST dogs!  There are pictures in Flickr of my boat.

One of the most interesting things I saw in Agde was the monument hill to the Americans who fell fighting for France’s freedom in WWII.  It was a beautiful hill and looked out to the clear sea.  I took many photos of it, both detail and overall, but I know I was unable to capture the full effect….but I am certain there is no way I can write about the place.  It was moving and eerie and odd to find something dedicated to Americans in France.  Common myth is that the French don’t care for Americans and never have and never will.  I think things are a lot more complicated than that and this monument is tangible evidence that in some way, our country has made a positive impression on the French.

Christophe and Becca both told me many different times how great the area is that they live in and I think I have to agree.  In a weeks’ time Christophe took us to the beach, to the farm, to the mountains and to the city all within an hour from their house.  Christophe said the region of Caux was the best for him and I think it is the best for the kids and Becca as well.  There is so much to do and see, the people are kind and generous and the air feels squeaky clean.  It was amazing.  Browse through my pictures….I think you’ll agree.

No real post today

Kidney stones suck….that’s all I have to say.

French Socks

On my way to France I chose to work on my second sock of the Nutkin socks by Beth LaPensee.  I had finished the first one over a month ago and just couldn’t make any real progress on the second one.  I had managed to cast on and make the fold down top, but that is all.  I am seriously wondering if I will ever be a sock knitter, as the pair took over 4 months to complete and Wendy is on her third pair of socks after we started together.  Anyway, I knit through a good portion of our flight to France and some on the TGV.  By the time I got to Becca’s I was ready to turn the heel.  I finished the socks after three days of being in France.  I would have finished them sooner…but Christophe was busy making sure I did not miss anything of interest in the south of France.

The pattern is easy to remember and very intuitive, so I did not have t lug out the pattern when I knit.  I only needed it to remind me of the number of repeats.  I did change the heal to an eye of partridge as I had done the short row heel as suggested on the first sock and found it to be thin.  I had to rip that out.  I did not want a sock that I spent so much time on to crap out on the heel. I also did a standard toe rather than her toe.  I like the look better.  Of course, my Kitchener is less than spectacular, so the toe on the pattern would probably have looked better.  I used ShibuiKnits Sock.  Unfortunately I don’t remember the colorway.  The bright sun in the south of France make the variegation really stand out.  In person, the difference in the purples is much more subtle and not so distracting from the lace pattern.  I have not washed these yet, but my girlfriend made her first pair with the same yarn in a different colorway and they faded terribly.  The socks started out as vibrant as mine and after the first cold water handwash looked very dull.  I hope that will not be the case with mine.

Here is the Ravelry link for those of you on Ravelry.

Here are the photos that Becca took in her back yard….doesn’t it look like I’m at a resort!

I wore my socks on the plane coming home.  They are very, very warm!  I had to take them off for the last flight as I was about to pass out.  If I stick with knitting socks, I may have to find a lighter weight yarn!!!


France, part 2

On Thursday or Friday (not sure which) my brother-in-law, Christophe, took us to a cave.  No, that is not cave, but /cav/.  Yes, short a.  Anyway.  A cave is a place where grapes are processed into wine.  Christophe is in the Languedoc region of France.  He is part of a different co-op than the one he took us to.  This cave was the largest in the region.  It is the Pomeroles Cave.  Here is a photo.

pomeroles cave

We were able to taste several wines (before noon).  They were really good.  The tasting is inside the warehouse where the wine is fermented and stored.  It was so cool.  There was the coolest thing, too.  There were spigots where you could bring a jug and fill it with one of three types of wine.  this wine is what the older locals drink.  It is not aged, but Christophe says it is perfectly good table wine and it is cheaper than gas!  That’s right, a liter for a 1.2 euro or so.  Here’s a picture of that.

wine to go

Here’s the price list.

price list

Here are a group of photos from the inner workings of the cave.  You can see some of the fermenting and purifying tanks.  I don’t know what every thing is because Christophe’s English is marginally better than my French.  Let me promise, we were both at a disadvantage, but somehow managed to get along.  Notice my dad…he had already sampled a few wines.  They were NOT skimpy with the samples, either.   It was so funny…I was every intimidated by the idea of going to a real French wine producer and tasting the wine, but the people there just acted like it was another day on the job and so did Christophe.

On the way back from the cave, Christophe took us to see his vineyard.  All I can say about that is WOW! He has a lot of land and a lot of grapes.  He grows two varieties.  One is picpoul.  The other is a red.  The picpoul is a grape that is protected.   Only the growers in his region can grow it.  In addition to all fo the grape vines, there are almond trees.  Christophe pulled and cracked fresh almonds for us.  He also showed us wild rosemary and thyme…not to mention many other herbs that I did not recognize and could not get the jest of through translation.  There are also tons of markers on his land.  The markers tell the story of the area using cartoon Roman soldiers who appear to be less than smart.  Here si a gallery of the vineyard and the signs.  I also tried to get a couple fo horizon shots. Remember, they are 25 miles from the Sea and about the same from the mountains.  They really have it all in this area.


Tomorrow I will continue my France posts with pics from the coast.