Thursday, May 31, 2012

May Books!

1.  Deadlocked, Charlaine Harris - Yep, I preordered it.  Yep, I devoured it in less than a day.  Nope, I don't feel the least bit silly about reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels and enjoying them as much as I do.  Bonus points to Harris for not letting the quality of this series go downhill the longer it gets.  This one was a bit slower than usual, but I could tell she needed it to transition for future story lines. 

2.  Hood, Stephen R. Lawhead (audio) - I had forgotten how much of a sucker I am for Robin Hood stories!  I'm (not so) patiently awaiting the next two books in this trilogy.  I can't promise this yet...but it has the potential to be my favorite version of Robin Hood.  We shall see!  (I had never read any Lawhead before, which I know is a bit odd for such a sci fi/fantasy buff...but perhaps that will change after this.)

3.  Books 1-5 of the Alvin Maker Series by Orson Scott Card (audio) : Seventh Son, Red Prophet, Prentice Alvin, Alvin Journeyman, and Heartfire - I am annoyed with the library for not having the sixth book, and I'm super annoyed with Card for never having finished the series with the promised seventh and final book.  Having said that, I love these books.  They are shortish listens (10-14 hours apiece), and I was able to get them from the library in fairly good order so that I could listen to them back to back.  At the end of the first there is a wee message from Card, describing the origins of the series.  Basically, he found himself challenged to make a purely American Fantasy as most Fantasy novels are strongly influenced by European traditions.  I found that premise to be utterly fascinating - especially the way in which Card wove historic figures, actual events and American race issues into his work.  What made the books even better is the fact that they had different actors - male and female - reading the different chapters, which are done from the points of view of many of the main characters.  Sooooo much fun! 

4.  The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente - I wish I had written this book.  It came to my attention via several best of 2012 lists, and of course I was completely smitten by the title.  It is quite simply one of the best fairy tales I've EVER read....and Gillian loved it, too!  This is absolutely my must-read suggestion for the month. 

5.  The Paleo Solution, Robb Wolf and Everyday Paleo, Sarah Fergaso - My allergist posted some links to Fergaso's website recently on her facebook page, and within an hour of browsing her blog and several others I was totally hooked.  I'll be talking more about our family's adventures in paleo soon.  For now, what I'll say is that Paleo is just a short sidestep away from what my allergist wants me to eat and has made food fun again.  You've no idea what that means to me!  About the books...Wolf is one of hte two or three biggest names in the Paleo world, and so was a good source for basic info.  I hate his writing style and overall tone, but once I got past that to the science I felt it was pretty solid and made sense.  Fergaso comes at Paleo from a family standpoint, and I absolutely adore her now and love the book.  As a bonus, my family has loved every one of her recipes that we've tried so far!

6.  The History of a Pleasure Seeker, Richard Mason - Oh my, was this ever fun!  It's sort of a naughty Downton Abby...or at least that's what it felt like to me.  Mason's book was a Books On the Nightstand pick, and he was also an author at one of their book retreats.  They recently played a ten minute or so speech of his at the event, and he was hilarious.  (Anyone who sings "What Would You Do With a BA in English?" from Avenue Q is right up my alley!)  I hear there is an app coming out for the book - one which introduces you to the art and music which is so central to the book - and I think I'm going to have to buy it.  After all, Cousin Matthew is the reader for the book in that app!

7.  Wild, Cheryl Strayed - I take it back, this is a must-read book as well.  Strayed's book is a memoir of her solo hike up the Pacific Coast Trail during a time when she was still mourning the loss of her mother and struggling with the chaos that loss triggered in her own life.  Her story is amazing, as are the lessons in life she learned along the way.  Having said that, I must admit that what the book did for me was to reawaken an old dream that's been dormant for too, too long.  Once upon a time I desperately wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail.  Having read Strayed's book, I can't get that dream off my mind.  It may be time to start making plans.  There are other lessons in her book which touched me deeply as well.  As I said on Facebook 'Lifechanging?  Perhaps.'

8.  Bloom, Kelle Hampton - I actually finished this book less than 30 minutes ago.  It's a beautiful book, and it made me cry a  LOT.  Rather than trying to explain, I'll just direct you to Kelle's website where you can learn more.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Possibility


I am hurrying to finish up a spinning project that I've been lollygagging around on for an awful long time.  (Why is it I only tend to get serious about spinning in the summer?  Doesn't seem to make much sense...)  As soon as I finish, I will be tackling this giant bag of wonderfulness.

What's in it? 

Ahhh...just the most perfect fiber in the world! 

It's a blend of fine sheep and giant angora... a total of 9 lbs of fiber.  (I think three of that was angora, so it's a pretty high bunny content.)  I bought the fleece from a friend in the guild, Janet, a couple of summers ago, and the bunny was left over from my long-ago days of showing rabbits in the ARBA and 4-H.  Angora, being VERY warm and awfully fuzzy, is a bit much to stand alone for a finished project, and so I had long known I wanted to blend it with just the right sheep.  When I told my knitting friends in the guild of my plans, Janet knew just the fleece that would pair with my bunny beautifully....and she was right! (Also, Janet's husband is the gent who sheared our sheep.  Talented family!)  I had it processed by ABC Ranch, also guild members, and picked it up just last week. 

I knew it would be good....but I didn't know I was going to love it as much as I do!

Such a special fiber blend deserves a special project (or a few) so I am actually going to sit down and plan out what I want to do with it so that my spinning can be more intentional than it normally is.  Of course, that might go out the window when I sit down at the wheel to see what the fiber wants to do....but we shall see.

I really wish you could touch this fiber so that you could understand just how soft and fluffy and magnificent it really is.  Then again, if you did that you might try to make off with it....and I'm selfish enough to want it all to myself....so there.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summertime Plans

Kristin's hens 'n chicks v. the squirrels, Summer 2012 edition, is officially ON.
I will win this year.....


With only two days left in the school year, I thought I would share with you some of our summer plans!
  • The girls and I are going to go to Reunion this summer.  For those of you who don't belong to our denomination, Reunion is basically a week long church camp.  Sean can't join us as he has to work, and this is the first year I've really felt it was doable on my own.  The girls are super-excited!  Reunion was always a big deal when I was a child, and I'm looking forward to sharing the fun with my girls.
  • Of course, we will be signing up for Summer Reading at the library just as soon as the program starts.  It is ALWAYS a highlight, even though my girls usually finish it way ahead of schedule.  We'll be making weekly trips to the library along with.
  • I've also scheduled the girls for Vacation Bible School at a friend's church this summer.  Unfortunately, our congregation just isn't big enough to throw a week-long event of the sort I experienced as a child....which is why it's so wonderful that we have access to this particular VBS.  We missed last year, and the girls are still annoyed with me for that!
  • I will be getting back into my exercise schedule....and will be bribing the kids into the playroom with promises of the pool afterwords.  Thank you FIT and the MAC!
  • Also, the girls will have swim lessons at some point.  Not sure when, though.....
  • My parents are already scheming to abduct my girls for weeks on end, and I'm going to let them do it because.....
  • I have a fair amount of stuff I'd like to do without the girls around.  For example, it's time to clean out our storage area again (I'm in the mood to purge.) and I really need to get serious about painting a couple of rooms.
  • Summer is when I spin....and look for a picture tomorrow of what I'll be working on this year.  It makes me giddy just to think about it!
  • I'm also going to get the sewing back out for another crack at it.  I did buy fabric last year for a couple of bags that I really want. This is another of those things that it's best to do when the girls aren't around.
  • Along with my own crafting, I'm also thinking about developing a few projects for the girls this summer.  Beading and embroidery are pretty high on the list of ideas as they both love those things.
So what do you have planned for the summer?
     
     
 

Monday, May 21, 2012

The People In My Neighborhood

Have I told you how much I love to spend my mornings in Starbucks, happily knitting away?  Well I do, and when the school year is over I'm really going to miss it.  As a natural introvert, you would think that I spend my time there plugged into my earbuds and ignoring all around me...but then you would be wrong.  One of my FAVORITE parts about my Starbucks experiences is that I've met a lot of wonderful people.  I thought I would take  a moment this morning to tell you about some of them. 

  1. A carpenter/builder from the east coast, who's moved to mid-Mo to live with family.  Due to some medical issues he's struggled to find a job, but in our conversations he's shared a great appreciation for quality handwork and integrity of work.
  2. A piano professor from a local university who's a lot of fun to talk to, and who approves of the methods our teacher is using with my children.  She's looking for a new home, and shared pictures with me of the possibilities.
  3. Touching me deeply was a former pharmacist who had been left with a serious brain injury by an accident.  She was starting life anew, relearning things most of us take for granted.  I'm grateful that I was gifted with her friendship, and have learned many, many lessons from her.
  4. A businessman who is lucky to have a friend who occasionally knits for him...and so appreciates people who do the same.  He's a regular, so I see him often and he always has a friendly word for people around him.
  5. I visited one morning with a young minister who was just starting out and was in the process of building a new congregation. 
  6. In a rather hilarious twist of fate, I got to know a young social worker/therapist....and eventually we figured out that her son and my daughter had crushes on each other.  Much laughing and telling upon our kids ensued.
  7. Another businessman and his college age daughter who meet regularly at Starbucks for coffee together.  She's leaving in two weeks for a year in Japan and - as all good dads would - he's struggling with that a bit.  I want my girls to have that type of relationship with their dad.
  8. Just recently I met a retired professor in costume design - also a member of my guild.  She was fascinating, and we spoke about sewing in great depth.  I really need to go to the regular guild meetings because I'd love to get to know her better.
  9. I spent hours one day visiting with a lovely Muslim woman who grew up in Libya and came to our area by way of Egypt and England.  We spoke of family, god, beauty, education and our hopes and dreams.  I carry that conversation close to my heart.
  10. I've become friends with 8 or so of the staff members, all of whom take customer service very seriously and are unfailingly positive with their customers.  People respond in kind, and business at that location has grown exponentially over the last year.
  11. And there are countless others who just stop by for a moment to visit when they see what I'm working on.  Most have friends or family who knit, or knit a bit themselves, or at the very least appreciate handwork.  I never mind the intrusions, and hope that I've given them a bit of the sunshine they've given me. 
A little nice goes a very, very long way...and you just never know who you are going to meet if you keep your heart open to the experience.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Celebrations

Today our Gillian performed in her piano recital with great poise.
 We have been allowing her to progress at her own pace - without much interference from us on whether or not she practices.  Why?  She works SOOOoooo hard at school on being perfect all of the time that we don't want to force her extracurriculars.  Instead, so long as she's learning (even at a slower pace) and is having fun than we are happy.

We also finally had Tanith's birthday party with four of her grandparents and her great-grandma.
 And my oh my, did she ever have fun!  Life is indeed very good when you are six!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Girls On The Run, 2012

If you have a daughter who is in 3rd - 5th grade, I would highly encourage you to find a Girls On The Run program for her.  Honestly, I believe it's one of the best programs available to help prepare our girls for the difficulties that lie ahead in girl world while also teaching them how to make good, healthy decisions.

Plus, the 5K was super-fun!
















Wednesday, May 16, 2012

50%

Well, ok, I'm 2 1/2 squares shy of the half-way point...but I'm not going to be here to take pictures when I hit that milestone!

Gorgeous, isn't it!




Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday

I've had Opal for over a year, and she still runs like crazy when I get out the camera.  She was distracted, though, last night by trying to figure out how to move from the basket to my lap....and I was lucky enough to have the camera sitting on the table right beside me.

At last!  A great picture of all of my yarn balls for the blanket.  The bag that you see in the back is a bag of doubles and/or colors so similar as to not quite count as an individual ball.  This is by no means representative of all of the colors that have gone into my blanket as there have been many that I only had enough of for one or two squares, or that have already been used up entirely.  It would have been fun to have kept count of the individual yarns...but then that would have gone contrary to the purpose of the blanket!

Um....I thought I had more to say, but find that I'm pretty happy with this post as is!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

For Making Me A Mother


Mother's Day has long been one of my favorite holidays - and not just because my husband and children spoil me rotten every year.

Ordinarily I celebrate by sending cards to other women....lots and lots of cards.

Sometimes I chose to honor women who's parenting skills I admire and strive to replicate.

Sometimes I send cards to women who've nurtured and supported me.

Most of the time I remember to send cards to any friends who've had babies in the last year.

And of course, my mother, grandmother, and various other family members from both sides are on the list as well.

This year, though, I didn't send out a single card.  I think perhaps because we've faced so much loss lately as a family I just wasn't able to look far beyond the walls of my own home.  My apologies to all of my loved ones for that.

Instead, this year I celebrated Mother's Day by holding close the two creatures who fulfilled the only true dreams I ever had for myself.
 My Gillian
And My Tanith

are simply the best things that ever happened to me.

Mommy loves you girls...more than you will ever know.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bex


I am quite happy to report that as of this morning I now have scrap yarn from ALL of my knitting friends in the Columbia Weavers and Spinners Guild.

My collection of CWSG yarn was completed when I stopped by True Blue Fiber Friends this morning to pick up a skein of yarn for a gift.  When I happened to mention to owner and friend Bex that I was working on my blanket again she asked if I would like some more scraps. 

Would I ever?!?!?!

Bex uses her sock yarn scraps for some of her own projects, but she offered to let me chose from her bag of leftovers.  I selected three - two because they reminded me of her (the blue and purple) and one just because it made me happy.  Believe me when I say that this gift made my day!  It means rather a lot to me that everyone is now represented.

As always, I want to share just a few thoughts about Bex.  (I have so much fun looking back at these posts, and am glad I do one for each and every person who's gifted my blanket!)  In my own mind, Bex has two very important talents.  First, she tends to recognize each of her friend/customer's strengths in the world of fiber arts, and is good at encouraging those strengths.  It is she, after all, who suggested my first ever lace shawl.  Second, she happens to have a knack for matching up friends, and is directly responsible for the fact that my BKB and I have each other!\

So thank you Bex!  The yarn is already in my blanket....

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Return Of The Blanket


For quite some time I've had trouble with the blanket.  I would pick it up, and would immediately get tied in knots over color placement.  This is NOT what was supposed to happen.  In fact, I took a lot of gentle ribbing at my April guild meeting over how much I was fussing over something that was supposed to be random and easy.  Squares which should have taken fifteen or twenty minutes were taking an hour because I was worrying so much about which color went where.

Not good, and not fun.

I believe now that the problem was not with the blanket....but with the fact that I was also working on the Princess.  The two projects are polar opposites - highly detailed, fine lacework in white on one end and garter stitch with random colors on the other.  The attention to detail so very necessary to one was spilling over to the other in unhealthy ways.  Rather than complimenting each other nicely (I had hoped that one would provide a fun break from the other and vise verse.), the Princess took over and the blanket ground to a painful halt.

But then I finished the Princess.

As you can imagine, though, I've been rather adrift since that great beast of a shawl came off of the needles.  I worked for a bit on an unfinished project...but I wasn't happy with that work.  Nothing felt right, and - contrary to what I said a week or two ago - my creative juices seemed to have dried up and left me entirely.

Until today.

Today I pulled out the blanket and set to work again....

and just like magic it was easy and fun, just as it should be.


PS.  I promised the guild that I would present the finished Princess next month.  So never fear, it won't be in its current resting place for long.