Sunday, August 30, 2009


My progress on my Slanting Gretel Tee continues.

I'm moving a little faster now. I'm making mine a little longer so I'm moving the decreases some. This caused some slow down as I pondered wear to place them. I think I've got them straight now. We will see.

My progress will be slowed again soon as I have another project that I'm squeezing in. It's a surprise as it's a gift for someone who reads this blogs. However, my knitterly friends can see a sneak peak of some LOVELY yarn on Ravelry.

Today B and I took the boys to a local park. We had a blast. There is a splashpad there and, even though they weren't dressed for it, we let the boys get a little wet. The boys were intrigued by this part of the splashpad:

Neither of them actually went under it, but they loved watching it. It was pretty adorable.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Little Knitting

After finishing my Petal Tank, I jumped into another project for myself, the Slanting Gretel Tee. (By the way, I like this new trend of knitting for myself.) This is a short-sleeve tee knit in the round (bottom up). It is shown worn over a long-sleeve tee in the Fall 2009 Interweave Knits. Since it's so hot here in Texas, I decided to do mine in a cotton blend (instead of a wool blend) so I could wear it alone for 3/4 of the year and over a long-sleeve tee in the cold month or two.

I've only done about 20 rows so far.

I had a slow start and made a few mistakes and ended up ripping out about 8 rows to fix them. Now that I've got my M1Rs and M1Ls straight, things are moving much more quickly. (I think of the M1R as the BFF [back to front, knit through front] and the M1L as the FBB [front to back, knit through back].) Here's a close-up of the edge of the front. It's a section of seed stitch with a cable border.

So that's my current knit project. I'm not 100% sold on the color, a lavender-pink (this is pretty true to color), but I hope this will be something I can wear often with shorts, capris and jeans.

A Fun Week Captured in Photos

One of our latest adventures: "tents." It all began when I washed my bedspread...

Smiley N on our back patio

J rediscovered this toy when I pulled it out for N.

We hosted a painting playdate. We painted with cars, snakes and frogs (and bouncy balls and fishing worms on a string--not pictured).

N fingerpainted for the first time.

We painted with bubbles. J loved blowing them, but not putting them on paper.

I finally let J mix sand with the water in N's water table...
and quickly realized why I had not done this before. There are no more pictures as I was too busy getting wet sand out of N's eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Good times!

Look how sweet and innocent Mr. Trouble looks.

And another fort/tent night. This one became our airplane and Pilot J and Assistant Pilot N flew us to see Daddy.

Hope everyone's having a fun week!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Top Ten Tuesday: My How They Have Grown Edition

I can't believe summer is almost over and that school started today (for the big kids that is--J doesn't start until after Labor Day). Anyway, I've been meaning to blog for a few weeks about all the new things my boys are doing so I decided to work it all into a big Top Ten Tuesday post. This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is...

Top Ten Ways My Boys Have Grown Up This Summer (aka, Look What We Can Do!)

10 J --Well, he still watches way too much TV, but J's favorites have changed. His most recent obsession is Caillou. He just LOVES that show and will watch the same thirty minute episode over and over.

10N --N still does not pay much attention to the TV, but he is having lots of fun doing other big boy things like coloring with crayons and playing with matchbox cars. He's also starting to enjoy simple puzzles.

9J -- This week J rode his "motorcycle" (a Big Wheel) all the way from our house to the pool and back. It's about 5 blocks each way and he was really proud of himself. B and I were excited to not have to carry his Big Wheel home--even after swimming for an hour.

9N -- N's not riding a Big Wheel yet (although he loves to climb on J's and can get on and off quite easily), but he is mobile in other ways. N is climbing up the stairs and scooting back down very easily these days. I ALMOST trust him to go up and down on his own. Almost.

8J -- J has gotten very good at taking his clothes and pajamas off and putting new ones back on. He sometimes does this for fun during naptime. He's also gotten good at putting on his own shoes and knows his left and right feet/shoes (usually).

8N -- N also likes to be self-sufficient and loves to put his shoes away in the shoebox we keep by the door. He also loves to throw his dirty diapers in the trash and gets very upset if you try to throw them away for him.

7J -- J continues to do great with potty training and hasn't had an accident all summer. He's very good about telling us when he needs to go and goes on his own. My favorite part right now is when he declares, "I'm going to poop A LOT." (He tells us this every time he poops.) After he poops, he likes to tell us how many pieces of poop he made and what color they are. Aren't boys the best?

7N -- N is not potty-trained, but he has gotten very good at climbing on top of things like the toilet--or chairs, stools, tables, etc. He gets so proud of himself when he makes it safely into a chair and sits there like he's on a throne.

6J -- J recently got a map of the United States so we could talk about where we live and where B is when he is traveling. J can now identify Texas, Virginia (where Mooma, Papa, Aunt Cat, Uncle Ron, Michael, Lizzie, Uncle John, Aunt Shelley, Joe, Reed, Mary and Madeline are), Ohio (where Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Mike are) and Oregon (where Aunt Kristin, Uncle Chris, Oscar and Isla are) on his map.

6N -- N could care less about maps, but he's a huge fan of light switches. He can point to all of the light switches in the house and, after flipping them, can point to what he turned on or off.

5J -- J has gotten really independent at the pool. He will get in and out of the 2 ft deep pool all by himself and hang out in there by himself with confidence even if he doesn't have a life jacket or waterwings on. If he has waterwings or a life jacket or an innertube, he will get in the big pool by himself and will swim across the pool by himself. When playing with friends, he's even okay with getting splashed in the face now. Very exciting!

5N -- N has also become a fan of waterwings at the pool. He loves to wear them and walk around the 2 ft deep pool. The water comes all the way up to his chin, but he doesn't seem to mind. N's favorite thing at the pool these days: the water fountain. He LOVES it.

4J -- J continues to grow in the foods he will eat. He is eating corn and peas on a regular basis without much fight. Okay, that's wishful thinking. He will eat one or two pieces of corn and one pea and sometimes only fights for 5 or 10 minutes. Just this week, J started eating whole apples. Considering he would freak out about the tiniest bit of peel on his apple slices up until this week, this is a huge accomplishment. On the downside, if J does not feel like eating something he will proclaim over and over that he doesn't like it. This is very frustrating when said item is mac n' cheese, his (former?) favorite food.

4N -- N is getting better and better at feeding himself with a spoon. He's good at putting the spoon in the food and putting the spoon in his mouth, but is not so great at scooping. He's most successful with applesauce although it's very messy. Other new likes for him include oatmeal, cereal with milk and dried fruit like bananas, pineapple and mango.

3J -- J is really into pretend play right now. His favorite is pretending he is a fireman. He also likes to build tents and nests. He sometimes pretends he's a bear (loves to roar) or runs around and pretends to be a "bad man." Not sure where that one came from.

3N -- I have no idea what he's "pretending," but N also loves to run around, roar and be wild, and play in the nests and tents.

2J -- Sometimes I think J is 3 going on 13. One of his favorite things to say right now is "No way." His next favorite (usually after getting in trouble for saying "No Way" when I asked him to do something) is "I'm Just Kidding." Another favorite phrase is "I said..." (said with attitude after I ask him a question).

2N -- As far as I can tell, N is not giving me attitude when he talks although he does think all attempts to keep him out of trouble are funny. He laughs hysterically when you tell him to stop doing something or try to get him to be still for a diaper change. He's still generally a sweetie. For example, for three mornings this week when N got up, he took his Cookie Monster out of his crib and handed him to Pepper. She was very sad when I did not let her keep him.

1J -- J continues to be into letters. He seems to be able to identify all letters correctly now--even the lowercase ones--with only an occasional confusion (like with V and Y). He can tell you what letters spell his name and N's name. He likes to "spell" words in books by naming the letters and likes to name the numbers he sees on houses and in books. He's starting to get into writing letters and tried to write his name for the first time last week. The J was backwards and some letters were hard to recognize, but it was pretty obvious that he wrote his name. I was pretty psyched.

1N -- N is finally talking more although I still feel he is behind in his language. His latest words include "John," "Pepper" and "Uh Oh" (which is absolutely adorable). This morning he said "Please" for the first time. Love it!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Petal Tank: An Alternate Solution and a Mostly Finished Top

Well, I tried to redo the straps on my Petal Halter, but I didn't like the way any of the redos looked. So I reknit the straps back to Version 1. I got a new bra instead and am really happy with the top (and the new bra--it was LONG overdue).

So my Petal Halter or my version of it--the Petal Tank--is finished...mostly. It still needs to be blocked and I am still considering doing a simple crochet chain edge along the top just to make it look a little more finished.

Pattern: Petal Halter by Olga Buraya-Kefelian (in Interweave Knits Spring 2009)
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Pima Tencel (50% Peruvian Pima Cotton/50% Tencel/ 50 gr/ 1.75 oz/ 109 yd) 5 skeins Color #9513
Needles: Size 5
Size: Smallest
Instead of the Eastern cast-on, I used this provisional cast-on that I found on Wendy Bernard's Knit and Tonic. I really loved this provisional cast-on. It was quick and easy to do and pretty easy to pick up the stitches. There was no problem with tension like with the Eastern or Figure 8 method. It did produce a slight jump in the garter stitch ribbing, but I don't think anyone will notice unless they are looking for it.
My stitch gauge was slightly off so I cast on 26 stitches instead of 24 (with this method, you cast on half the stitches instead of two rows of stitches).
I wanted a longer top so I did 4 rows of petals (8 petals) instead of 3 rows (6 petals).
My bottom row of petals is done following the directions as written in the pattern (5" before decrease row). The next petals up are 1/2" shorter (4.75" before decrease row). The next petals up are another 1/2" shorter (4.5" before decrease row). The top petals are another 1/2" shorter (4.25" before decrease row).
I didn't want a halter, so I shifted the top slightly so the petals overlapped in the center of the front and then picked up stitches to do two straps.
I chose to pick up eleven stitches for each strap and then did the strap with 3 stitches of garter stitch, 5 stitches of stockinette, and then another 3 stitches of garter stitch.

My thoughts: I like this top. It is fun and flirty and feminine. It is pretty low cut for me and I will wear it more when I'm going out with B vs. hanging out with the boys. The pattern was pretty easy. There was a lot of sewing, but I did it as I went along so that made it better. The yarn is soft and lovely, but fuzzes/pills while knitting. I hope I got that all out of the way and it won't fuzz/pill too much when worn.

Now off to work on my next project, the Slanted Gretel Tee.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Book List: Artsy-Fartsy, Good Faith, Harry's Final Installment and a Little Light Murder Mystery

The Art Thief by Noah Charney: This novel tells the story of several stolen paintings and the attempt to recover them. The tale takes place in several countries and jumps back in forth between the investigators, victims and criminals in each country. The threads of the story continue to cross and intermingle more and more as the novel unfolds with definitely a few interesting twists. For me, this novel is only enjoyable if you have some interest in art history since it is heavy in details about art and its history. The author is part of an art crime think tank and it is pretty obvious that is his first talent, not writing novels. A little like a more academic version of The Thomas Crown Affair. Not bad, but not great either. On a side note, the author's penchant for including phrases and sentences in other languages (often untranslated) was annoying to me.

Healing Waters by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn: Forced to give up things for her younger, more beautiful and talented sister her whole life, Lucia is constantly feeling inferior, especially now that she's put on more weight, and truly believes that God loves some people (her sister) more than others (herself). When her younger sister is tragically injured, Lucia, a nurse, must become immersed in her sister's world as a celebrity televangelist as she becomes her main caretaker. While Lucia is battling with her sister and her own personal demons help comes in the form of Sullivan Crisp, another famous Christian who is also a psychologist with his own personal struggles. This is part of the Sullivan Crisp series, but to me this book was all about Lucia--a character that I loved. When I saw that this book had won a Women of Faith award, I wasn't sure if it would be a favorite... but I REALLY enjoyed this novel. It had an interesting plot (lots more mystery and depth than my description implies) and some really good, deep characters. There was sadness and anger, but also joy. This book, unlike some other Christian lit I've read, had definitely more emphasis on Faith vs. Religion and that felt good. Even if you are not a woman of faith, this is a good read and I recommend it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
by J. K. Rowling: I have read the whole Harry Potter series and enjoyed them. This one is one of my favorites. My other favorite is the first book in the series. In between, Harry got a little annoying. Anyway, Deathly Hallows was long, but quick moving and enjoyable. It was very intense at times, a little nerve-wracking for me who gets totally sucked into the characters in most books I read. I thought there were some interesting plot twists and good character development. There are a few deaths that I felt were unnecessary (they weren't gratuitous, I just wish they hadn't happened), but overall J. K. Rowling did a good job ending the series with this book. I was satisfied with the ending and the way things were wrapped up. This book was actually better than I expected.

Size 14 Is Not Fat Either
by Meg Cabot: This was a fun little light read. It's part of the Heather Mills Mystery series. Heather Mills, the main character, is a former pop star who is trying to start her life over by working at a college residence hall after her mom ran away with all her money. For the second time, there is a student murdered in the residence hall and Heather gets sucked into finding the murderer. Not an earth-shattering book, but a fun read. Not quite as good as the last Meg Cabot book I read, but good enough for me to want to read the next book in the series. One of my favorite parts of this novel: the snippets of Heather's songs she writes that appear at the beginning of each chapter. Some are really funny.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Grosser than Gross

What's gross?

What's grosser than gross?
Finding bits of dried up tapeworms on your pillow. (FYI: They look like little dried up pieces of rice.) Thanks, Pepper!

What's grosser than grosser than gross?
Having a vet explain that a tapeworm is kind of a like a train and those things you found were like the caboose and end cars of the train coming off.

What's grosser than grosser than grosser than gross?
Having a vet explain that you could eat those little rice-like things and not get a tapeworm. (FYI: The only way to get a tapeworm is to ingest an infected flea.)

What's grosser than grosser than grosser than grosser than gross?
Poor Pepper's probably had said tapeworms the entire time we've had her and we just now figured it out and got her treated to get rid of them.

Yesterday was a gross day! Sorry to share the grossness.

Slithering GREEN Goodness

For some reason I have been playing with the idea of making my boys stuffed animal snakes. I don't really remember why. I think maybe because they love to play with things like jumpropes and old belts. They pretend they are all kinds of things, but most often fire hoses. Anyway, I've been playing with the idea in my head for a few weeks.

This week I decided to do some sewing because I realized I was had four baby gifts that were overdue. I went to pick out fabric for some loveys from my stash and found some nice green leftover from some other projects. So I set it aside for snakes. I cut out my loveys and got ready to sew them up when I realized that I had bright green thread in my sewing machine so...I did what any person would do...I set aside the baby presents and sewed up some snakes.

They were REALLY easy. I just cut out two strips of fabric of roughly equal size--green fuzzy for the top side of the snake and green print for the underside. I put the two pieces together with the right sides facing in. I drew a head on one end and a tail on the other. Then I sewed them together, free-styling for the body and leaving a space for stuffing.

The stuffing, in an attempt to be "green," is made up of two ripped up old t-shirts and a sleepsack, all that were too stained to donate.

I still used poly-fil for the heads to fill out the curves, but even some of that was reused from a toy Pepper destuffed yesterday. The rag filling makes for a heavier stuffed animal, but it also allows the snakes to be curved and bent in a nice way.

I don't know if I'd reuse it for most stuffed animals, but the rag stuffing worked really well for these snakes.

For tongues, I used a bit of ribbon. For eyes, I sewed on fleece circles and then added color with embroidery floss.
Overall, I'm very happy with our slithery green snakes. Ssss...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I started my first strap redo. I don't like it. Will keep trying. Will keep you posted.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Better Be the Best D@mn Book Ever!

Today I spent $33 on a book. I have NEVER spent that much money on a book. (Well, I guess I've spent more than that on textbooks...but that's beside the point.) Besides knitting books and a few children's books, I haven't bought any books in about 3 years because I've just checked books out of the library. Today I spent $33 on a novel. Highway robbery is what I call it. Sometime in the last month I checked out a novel from the library. I ended up not reading it because the description didn't end up appealing to me once I got home. It includes a missing 10 year-old and a family in crisis. I decided it might be too depressing and I was ready for a light read. So I returned it without ever reading it. Today I went to the library with the boys. We had a bag full of books and movies to checkout, but when we went to do the wouldn't work. So we went to the front desk to find out why and found out the novel mentioned above had water damage. We were being blamed. And we had to pay to replace the book. As there was no way to prove that I had not damaged the book and I would like to keep going to this library and I am not a person to cause ugly confrontations, I paid. So $33 later ($25 for the book plus $5 replacement fee plus $3 ATM fee because they only take cash or check and I had neither), I now own a water-damaged novel that I have no interest in reading. At that price, it better be the best d@mn book EVER!

In Danger, Need Help

I first discovered Rebecca Danger and her adorable knit patterns at Easter when I knit her first free pattern, The Bunny Nugget. Ever since I have been contemplating buying one of her adorable knit softie patterns, but had managed to resist. Until now. Rebecca's newest pattern is this adorable mommy and baby monster pair. All photos property of Rebecca Danger. Used with her permission.

I just can't resist Daphne and Delilah. Don't you just love the pocket! Both of them are so adorable! So I went to Rebecca's etsy shop all set to buy Daphne and Delilah when I noticed Rebecca's 5 Pattern Deal. Well, there were so many adorable patterns that I decided I really should go for the deal. She also has a 6 Monster Deal and an All 12 Patterns Deal, but I'm going to try to limit myself to 5. Try being the key word. The problem is...I can't decide which patterns to buy.

I think I've decided on 4 of the 5:
Daphne and Delilah:

Penelope the Empathetic Monster

Frances the Charismatic Monster:

Robbie the Radiant Robot:

I can't decide on the 5th one. I like the inherent flexibility in color choices for the monsters. Really, you can use any yarn in your stash and they will look cute. But I also like the idea of getting a larger variety by choosing a non-monster. Here are some of my current front runners for my 5th pattern:

Albert the Absent-Minded Monster:

Maddox the Mischievous Monster

Wasabi the Gregarious Pug

Then there are also these little cuties:
Tofu the Gentle Dachshund:

Olivia the Audacious Monster:

Chester the Bashful Bunny:

Herman the Enigmatic Bear:

Beatrice and Bernard the Inseparable Bunny and Bear
:I know the choices are overwhelming. I just can't decide. I need your help! Please, knitters and non-knitters, can you please leave a comment and let me know which pattern(s) are your favorites. I want to buy them as soon as possible because they are SO adorable and they must be knit soon. And make sure you check out Rebecca's blog and etsy shop.

Happy Monday, everyone! Thanks for your help.

All photos property of Rebecca Danger. Used with her permission.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fun With My Boys: Story in Photos

One of J and N's favorite new games: the pillow pile or "nest:"

At Safety Town:

Sidewalk chalk is so much more fun with a bucket of water:

J "I'm painting the roof!":

N thinks he's so big on J's motorcycle:

J and B planted these marigolds:

Sidewalk chalk, water and stamps. Too cool!:

And paintbrushes too!:

Happy August, everyone!