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Ive had entirely enough.  Of nature that is.   We just came back from a weekend of camping with the family.  Next time I want to go camping here in July, somebody please smack me.  Or at least remind me how freaking HOT it is.  It was just short of torture, and if it weren’t for my son, I would have bailed on everyone.  The shower I took when I got home was probably the best I’ve ever had.    So now I’m sitting in front of the PC in my pajamas (its  4pm) in a blissfully cold air conditioned room, watching TV.   Ahh, modern technology how I love thee.

There are some good things about nature though.  We’ve gotten some good stuff out of the garden so far.  And after a weekend of grilled meat and beer, it was a welcome change to turn this:

into this:

Thats cherry tomato salad – halved tomatoes with balsamic, olive oil, fresh garlic and homegrown basil.  And a quick zucchini fritatta – sauteed zucchini in olive oil and garlic and combine with eggs scrambled up with parmesan and salt.  YUMMO.

The other good thing about nature is – nature inspired knits!

Pattern:  Spring Baby Headbands

Yarn: Scraps of worsted cotton I had laying around – cotton ease and red heart cotton

Notes:  So quick to make – the large flower is my favorite.  The 5 petal flower is kind of fiddly – if you try it, be sure to watch the video because its a strange construction.  This was a gift for  a friend’s daughter who had just turned one.  I bought some cute dresses and made these to match..

Pattern:  Monkey Socks

Yarn – Patons Stretch Sock

Notes:  I didnt love this yarn at first,although I did like the color.  It reminds me of the different colors of dry fall leaves and so I thought they would be perfect for fall socks.   Its not all that soft knitting up, but once the socks were finished and I tried them on I changed my mind.  They fit great and the stretch makes them very cushy.

I love tutorials.  Whenever I have a vague idea of something I want to make, I always seem to be able to find some kind of tutorial on line.  Here are two great things I recently made, with links to where I learned to make them:

Drawstring Sock Project Bag – I love this one because its fairly easy for someone of my limited sewing skills, plus it uses two fat quarters which are cheap, easy to find and come in great prints.  Of course, I still managed to screw it up because apparently I cant measure anything correctly – so I had to frankenstein it up a bit, but I think it still turned out adorable.  Its perfect for sock knitting and other small projects – I always find that I can stuff more in here than I think I can. Tutorial from Yarnmonster can be found here.

Row Counter Bracelet – I found this one by accident – I was trying to find the cheapest place to find a decent row counter for someone who asked for it.  Mr Google pointed me to this great tutorial for a bracelet pattern.  This was a little bit of a challenge for me to because apparently my jewelry making skills are even worse than my sewing skills.  My husband helped me with squooshing the clasps on the ends.  If you’ve never seen this before, here’s how it works.  The clear beads on the bottom right is actuall a small circle of clear seed beads strung on elastic cord.  There are 9 small beads and 10 big beads.  Each time you knit a row, you move one small bead through the circle (whose opening is normally too small to let the beads pass through, hence the elastic) to the other side.  After you pass all nine beads through and then knit your tenth row, you move all nine beads back where they came from and instead pass one big bead through.  You continue on like this for as many rows as you need to count, up to 99 rows!  The bracelet below “reads” 12 rows have been knit (one big bead and two small ones).  Pretty neat huh?  If you didnt want to wear it, you could loop it around your knitting bag instead.

So here’s my tutorial for you.  If you’re a (top down) sock knitter like me, you always have to drag out a reference book to remember how to kitchener stitch your toes closed.  I wanted something sturdy I could keep in my project bag to remind me.   I saw the kitchener stitch dog tag on knitpicks for $6.50 plus shipping and thought, “I could do better than that!”.  Since I dont have a laminator, here is my bright idea.

“Laminated” Kitchener Stitch Tag:

Materials:

  • Paper
  • Light weight cardboard
  • 2″ wide Packing Tape

Instructions:

Print out the kitchener stitch mantra (either how I’ve done it below or in some format that helps you remember it) on regular paper.  I drew a text box that was 2.5″ by 1.5″ and wrote the lines inside it.  

Cut it out close to the edges of the drawn box.  Cut out a rectangle out of light weight cardboard that is the same height, but half an inch wider.

Place the paper on top of the cardboard, with the paper’s right and bottom edges lined up with the cardboard.  Rip off a piece of packing taper several inches longer than the cardboard.  CAREFULLY place the tape over the paper/cardboard so it sticks right in the middle. My packing tape is two inches wide so I had about half an inch clearance at the top and bottom.  Turn it over and place another piece of packing tape over the first, sticky sides together.  You are sandwiching the tag between the tape.  Burnish the two layers of tape with a sharp object (Im using scissors below) to make sure the two layers adhere and there are no air bubbles.

Trim around the whole thing, leaving a quarter inch border and rounding the edges.  Punch a hole in the end where just the cardboard is (be more careful than I was, I cut into the box as you can see below)

Ta DA!  I threaded it through the drawstring on my sock bag.  Now just make sure you remember to have your tapestry needle with you!

Since our visit last year, we decided to make every June our annual week-long camping trip to Hither Hills state park in Montauk.  For those of you not near these parts, its the town at the very tippy tip of the south fork of long island, as far east as you can go. It’s a lazy little beach town, with the perfect mix of locals and tourists.  The campground is at the very beginning of the town line which leaves it nicely isolated from downtown, and the best part is that it is right up against the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.  The weather at this time of year is cooler, and its considered off-season so it is less crowded.  There is nothing better than spending your days playing on the beach that is steps from the camper, and then falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing.  It was such a relaxing time.  Well, as relaxing as it can be when you have a toddler with no fear of the water.  Much of the beach time was spent hovering over him and pulling him back from the water’s edge.  Oh, and except for that first day – when he ran from me and sprinted down the beach – so far that I started to panic both from fear of him running into the water and fear of me collapsing from a heart attack from trying to sprint after him.  It only got worse when he finally stopped and I caught up to him.  Let me say that I NEVER EVER hit my son.  NEVER.  But he got a nice whack on his butt for that one.  Not to hurt him but hopefully to strike the fear of God in him never to do that again.  Lets hope so because my heart can’t take it literally.

But after that things went well (except of course for the bathrooms – showering at a state park has to be akin to prison).   We visited the famous lighthouse and drove through creepy Camp Hero.  We ate grilled hot dogs and homemade ice cream.  We collected shells and hunted for sea glass.  We splashed in the water and built sand castles.  We read books and cuddled in sleeping bags.  We made friends with strangers and together gathered to gaze at a beautiful full arch rainbow.  Its everything I love about the beach and camping combined!

Summer Gardens

One of my favorite things about summer is seeing my yard bursting with color. Most of what you see in our yard is completely by trial and error.  (And some errors, like my husband planting mint in one of the beds is a nightmare we keep living every year).By the time September comes for the big birthday bash, everything is lush and overflowing.

In the front beds I try to plant as much purple as possible.  Our house is a taupy brown, but my front door is a deep plum.  Every year I try to find some other unique one to plant.

One thing I’ve been meaning to do is hand paint a quote or saying in whimsical writing across the header under our deck – but I can’t seem to find the perfect thing to write.  I was thinking something about a garden, or living by the sea, or a place where friends and family gather – or something with all of them!   Any ideas?  Here’s a pic. Its the wide board at the top of where it supports the floor of the deck above.   Its the first thing you see when you walk out from the house.   If I use your idea, you’ll win a nice bunch of fresh mint!  (or free to anyone who wants it)  (seriously).

In the back I have a mix of everything.   Our pots are a pretty aqua, bought both because they were scooped up for a bargain one fall and because the color reminds me of a calming spa.  This year I put in bright orange geraniums paired with hot pink new guinea impatiens.

The color combo makes me smile every time Im out there.  It also served as an inspiration for a recent crochet project.  I was surfing on Ravelry and checked in on the “Testing Pool” forum – crochet projects are few and far between so when I saw a request to test the Babouches pattern, I jumped at it.  Needing worsted weight yarn, I dug in my stash and came up with this combo.

Pattern:  Babouches

Yarn:  Red Heart Soft Yarn – no idea how much, but WAY less than half a skein.

Hook:  C – the pattern calls for F which boggles my mind – I actually could have gone down to a B

Notes:  Quick, painless and very cute.  Next time I would use cotton.  Im not much of a slipper person, but I thought this was a good project for my first foray into testing.  I think I did pretty good with my feedback, and I would definitely test again.

Fiber Fest

Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to a small Fibert Fest held fairly close by.  Last year, I went to Rhinebeck, and it was just all too overwhelming for me, so I was happy to be able to navigate the smaller crowds and take my time.  The only drawback was that it was SO small there were hardly any vendors there at all and only one or two that actually sold yarn (most sold fleece or knitted gifts and doodads).  I came away with some pretty stitch markers, a magnetic pattern place holder AND my first drop spindle!

This is me being taught how to use it by a lovely woman from the local spinning guild.  (Im the one sitting in the pink shirt).

I have to say it wasn’t too hard – I was taught the “Park and Draft Method” which most beginners use and I actually made some usable yarn!  So of course I now have dreams of buying beautiful jewel toned fleeces and spinning them into fine laceweight to knit into gorgeous shawls – but my husband cautioned me that I might want to practice a bit more first.  Probably a good idea.  I’ll let you know how I make out.

We enjoyed the close up view of the animals and the many demonstrations they had (I also have big dreams of being a needle felt sculpor) as well as visiting local farms in the area for fresh produce and eggs.  My husband has a dream of owning chickens (dont ask), so we hit the jackpot when we found a friendly chicken farmer who let us roam the property and take pictures.  I travel west to the city so much that I often forget there is a whole other peaceful world just to the east.  

I am riding high on the waves of one of the most productive days I’ve had in a long time.  It didnt start great.  I woke up this morning to a downpour – well wait, I didnt actually wake up to it.  In actuality, I woke up at 3 a.m. to a toddler yelling from his room “I have to go pottttyyyyyyyy and my tummy is telling me Im soooooo thirstyyyyyyyy”.  So of course after I got all that nonsense sorted out and got back into bed, I couldn’t sleep.  So I actualy tossed and turned until it got light out and started pouring.  I was in no mood to get up and get ready for work, so I decided to lay in bed to at least rest my body if not my brain – and then eventually I would just get up and work from home.

I eventually roused myself at about 7:30 or so and decided to first tackle my bedroom.  I had  what seemed like humongous piles of clean and semi-clean clothes stacked up in a not so inconspicuous place in my room – due to lack of proper unpacking from two trips to Florida and a backup of putting away folded laundry.  Its been like that for over a month now and I just couldn’t get motivated to deal with it.  This morning I moved it all on top of my bed and proceeded to either put it away or wash it.  A small thing, but it made me so happy.

Then I went into the office to fire up the work email.  One of my first emails was from someone at work telling me that the big mistake I thought I made (and come to think of it probably most of the reason I couldn’t fall back asleep or get motivated to go to work) turned out to be no big deal.  Crisis averted.

And lastly, and most importantly, I think that maybe finally, FINALLY we are getting our act together for the second adoption.  I pulled out the paperwork for the homestudy and went over it all again.  What first seemed overwhelming didn’t seem so bad all of a sudden.  I started cranking through the forms in between conference calls and emails and before long I had most of the packet put together.  As of tonight, here is what I have left:

1.  A notarized letter signed by husband giving me permission to order his certified birth certificate on line (husband’s job)

2. Wait for said birth certificate, along with my own and our marriage certificate in the mail

3. Go to the doctor and have the medical forms filled out (need to postpone as much as possible so I can try to lose 50 pounds – shut up I can try)

4. Figure out if I need a psych report done

5. Fill out the financial form (husband’s job)

6. Go to fingerprinting appointment on Saturday

7. Write autobiographies (It was a dark and stormy night.  I couldnt get pregnant, we adopted a kid.  We want another.  The End)

8.  Write check for “annual fee” (for exactly what we can’t figure out – one of those mystery fees)

So in a few weeks this will all be wrapped up and then they will send the social worker over to confirm that I am STILL not an axe murderer and we can get on with it.

I also still need to figure out how to do all this stupid Hague compliant training.  Our home study agency makes us do 40 credits – and most things that count (like books and online seminars and stuff) are only 2 or 3 credits each.  It doesn’t seem like we get any credit at all for already being parents of an adopted kid!  How ridiculous!  Ive asked if we can get credit for being in the country for 3 weeks – can’t get any more closer to the culture than that, right? Waiting for an answer on that one.  Plus we have to do 10 hours of the Hague specific training – which from all accounts looks like we just have to pay $150-175 bucks for an online course.  If this stuff is so important, why doesn’t everyone offer it for free on-line?  I mean, I’m all for doing training if you are adopting internationally for the first time, but does it have to be so much and so expensive?? Any one know of any creative ways to meet the criteria?

So anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to provide updates on a more regular basis.  And yes, for those of you who asked, we are going back to the same orphanage in Colombia where Sebastian is from.  The wait is probably twice as long now, but whatever.  Ive learned that rushing the process isn’t worth it in the end.

Hope you had a productive day too!

Sweet things

Its a cold and rainy day here today and we’re sitting around being lazy before we have to trek out to my in-laws.  Today is my FILs b-day and he’s 84.   I wanted to make him a really nice birthday cake, but my SIL is doing that so I needed to come up with something else.  My FIL is one of those Dads who buys all kinds of treats at the store with the excuse that its for “the kids” but really wants it for himself.  So I thought I’d make him a treat just for him.  He loves old fashioned things, well, being 84 and all, and he loves his peanut brittle.  So I found this awesome easy recipe and made my own this morning.  I even made a batch topped with semi-sweet chocolate and sea salt.  Yum.  Highly recommended.

Life is quite busy in this neck of the woods, and generally quite good.  We’re struggling a bit with all the ups and downs of raising a three year old.  This kid has more mood swings than a 13 year old girl.  As those of you who have been through this stage know, the highs are quite high – spontaneous hugs and “I love you’s”, funny faces and funnier words out of his mouth.  The lows however, can be totally exhausting.  It seems that every meal is now a battle – no matter what it is, it’s met with a tantrum.  So we’re trying to figure out the best balance of getting him to eat and sit at the table with the family while not forcing him to eat what he doesn’t want.  It ain’t easy.

The other day was particularly rough – in the midst of having a complete meltdown, he wet himself (potty training is at about 98% successful).  So I have him partially undressed sitting on his old changing table while I get out clean clothes.  I turn around and that boy looks me dead in the eye and proceeds to pee on the changing table.  SIGH.  I of course, lose my mind, which is not helping.  After we both calm down, we decide to have some quiet time.  I tucked him into my bed to rest while I laid beside him and read a book.  “Mommy?” he says a few moments later.  “Can we talk about something?”     This is something we all do when we get bored or frankly, if we’re trying to change a subject with him.  We think of a memory and then ask each other our favorite part of it.  Like “What’s your favorite part of Disney?”  or “What’s your favorite place to hide when we play hide and go seek?” .  So I realized that  this smart little boy was turning the tables on me,  trying to change the subject and make peace.  “Sure” I said, “What do you want to talk about?”

He sits up and says, with complete sincerity and an angelic smile on his swollen and tear stained face   “Uh….what’s your favorite part of being mad at me?”

I love that kid.

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