Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thank you, Wendy!

A big thank you goes out to my SP8 Pal, Wendy! She did a great job of spoiling me and keeping me guessing all summer. Here is the final package I received from her:Yes, my friends, that's season one of Grey's Anatomy you're looking at on the right. I just loves me that show. Thank you for contributing to my delinquency, Wendy!. She also sent one of her favorite cooking magazines, Cooking Light. It is the Entertainment Special issue, for the next time I host a family get-together filled with food. I can't wait to use some of the recipes. And finally she sent Maggie Sefton's A Deadly Yarn, from her knitting mysteries series. Thank you so much, Wendy! It's been great fun!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's back to school for ZimDee

Yesterday was ZimDee's first day of preschool for this year. This is his third year of preschool, so he's an old pro by now. He will go 2 1/2 hours a day for four days a week. To me this will be like his half-day kindergarten year, since the grade school he will attend has switched to all-day kindergarten.

Doesn't he look spiffy all decked out in his new clothes?
I just love boys in stripes.

Girlie doesn't start school until Wednesday of next week. Soccer practice started two weeks ago, and this year her coach is fantastic. I think this will be a very good season for her.

Swimming lessons ended last Friday, and I'm happy to announce that Girlie passed all of her levels. She has become such a strong swimmer. I'm very proud of her.

My love to all.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

State Fair Ribbonage

Thank you all for your warm wishes for my recovery from bronchitis. I'm taking it one day at a time.

I finally got my Oregon State Fair pictures loaded on blogger. I took my image hosting over to Photobucket, which so far seems much faster. If it continues to work so well, I may just use that for all of my photos in the future.

Ok. To set the stage, remember I submitted 5 items in the county fair:
*Raspberry freezer jam, which won a 2nd place ribbon
*2 Crystal bracelets, winning 1st & 2nd place ribbons
*Mock Croc socks, which won a 2nd place ribbon, and
*Blue Picot bag, which won a 2nd place ribbon.

I was thrilled that everything I submitted won a ribbon.

For the Oregon State Fair, I chose to enter 7 items. I left out the second crystal bracelet after learning from the county fair that the two crystal bracelets competed against each other. I thought I'd save the second one for next year. I still submitted the first place bracelet, the socks, bag, and raspberry freezer jam. I added strawberry freezer jam, a beaded Christmas ornament, and a Daisy stitch silk scarf.

I had to submit the items well in advance of the fair opening. I sat on pins and needles waiting to find out how they did.

The fair is held in Salem, which is an hour south of Portland. Chrissy and I have made plans to meet up next weekend at the fair and spend however long our husbands and children will tolerate all of the festivities. I am willing my body to be completely healed by then. Which means as much rest as I can get this week. With three kids. It could happen.

But the fair opened last Friday. I had to make a road trip down south past Salem that day as it turned out. How could I not check on my pretties? Of course I did. But all I did was go straight to the exhibition hall gate. They let me in without charging admission when they found out that I just wanted to look at my entries. Isn't that nice?

I went over to the jam section first, because it was easiest to find, and pretty competitive. It was really nice how they had all the jars arranged on lit shelves, and roped off so you couldn't touch them. I wish I had gotten a picture of that. (I will when I return next weekend). Instead silly old me just took close up shots of my own jars of jam. And here is what I found: 3rd place for my strawberry freezer jam!

and 2nd place for my raspberry freezer jam!

This time I was sure I typed up the recipes and canning methods nicely on the computer. I prefer the raspberry jam to the strawberry jam myself, so I have to say I agree with the judges. So now when I give my little jars of jam away as gifts, I can say "this is an award-winning recipe." Ha! So the raspberry jam won 2nd place in both the county and state fairs. Pretty consistent so far.

Next I wasn't sure whether or not to check the beads or the knitting. I scooted on over to the bead section.

Now the crafts, like beading and knitting, are all locked in glass cabinets and displayed. I think that's a nice touch. Also, the exhibition hall is indoor and has air conditioning at the state fair. This is a lot different from the county fair where my knitted items were folded up on a table under a big tent in the grass. So this was high class stuff *giggle*.

I found my bracelet first:It had a 3rd place ribbon. I thought it might place higher since it got a 1st place ribbon in the county fair, but obviously the competition is tougher in the state fair. And I'm not complaining--I was happy that it got a ribbon at all.

Next I found my ornament. With a blue ribbon. Happy, happy, happy. The picture actually doesn't do the ornament justice. I sewed the beads in a net around the ornament with a needle and thread. This is a one-of-its kind for me because it took a long time to do. I've since made several easier versions of this ornament that take about a quarter of the time to do, which I will probably enter into next year's fair. But at the moment, we are talking about you, pretty blue: Ok, so that's four ribbons for four entries. What about the knitting?

I have to say, there was some beautiful things knitted and crocheted for the fair. It was very inspiring. I found the cabinet that held my scarf: (It's the silver one in the middle). 2nd place. I'll take it. Especially when the first place winners are purple and pink, colors which I love. I'm just happy it got a ribbon. I will be mailing this scarf to my sister in Chicago when I get it back from the fair. Should I send the ribbon with it too, A.?

The socks were stuffed very cutely at the foot of the scarves. And once again they earned a 2nd place ribbon, which still overwhelms me since they were my very first pair of socks to knit, ever. Again, this is where the judges of the county and state fairs were consistent.
And then I couldn't find my little blue picot bag anywhere. The cabinets were arranged in categories, like machine knit, crochet, hand-knit accessories, etc. I walked around and around the cabinets several times, and even back to the beading department. I couldn't find the bag anywhere. Then I started to wonder if it got lost. It's pretty small, and I dropped it off in Portland to be transported down to Salem. I was just about ready to go find someone in charge to ask them about it when I decided to look very very closely at all the cabinets one more time. I looked through them all by category, and decided that the only cabinet it could be in was the same one that the socks and the scarves were in. After all, there were other bags in there.

Then I looked up. The bag was perched just a few inches higher and to the right of the silk scarf. I don't know how I missed it, but it was worth the wait when I found a blue ribbon hanging from it. Hooray!
This bag won 2nd place in the county fair, so I was surprised at the 1st place ribbon in the state fair. But I'm very happy about it.

I've given this bag away as a gift three different times (to Kim, who was my pal in the Knitting Vacation Swap; to Stephanie because she is my niece and I luv hah; and to my one skein secret pal.) It's a fun knit, and now you ladies know that it's also award-winning.

So I'm very excited that I earned a ribbon for every item that I submitted to both fairs. That's going to be a tough act to follow next year.

Many thanks to Larissa for lighting this fire with her knitalong.

Monday, August 28, 2006


I'd like to post photos of my submissions to the Oregon State Fair, but blogger (big surprise) is not cooperating. I'd probably have more patience for the whole thing, since this is not unusual, but tonight I am very tired. Late last week I came down with viral bronchitis and have had a very rough weekend. I don't get sick very often, and when I do, for some reason bronchitis is my Achille's heel. I've been trying very hard to keep the kids from getting sick. I hope I'm successful with that. coming soon when blogger and I both feel better.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I'm Back

and it feels like I've been gone forever. So much and nothing has happened, all at the same time. I've missed each and every one of you, my friends.

First of all I'd like to thank Amanda for these adorable stitch markers:
She sent them to me (and my fellow KALers) for participating in her Mock Croc sock knitalong. I love them! They came in an envelope decorated with, of course, a crocodile. Inside the envelope was a card with a smaller crocodile on it, with a note handwritten in green ink. You are just too much. Thank you, Amanda.

As you know, I had my family visiting me for a couple weeks. Sometimes tempers flare and there are misunderstandings, but the great thing about family is that you love them, and they love you, No matter what. So there were some shaky moments, but there were also moments of great beauty and love that I will hide in my heart forever.

And fun. There was always fun to be had. Here we are the day before everyone left having a great tea party. Forgive how some of us are dressed. We were so busy preparing the fabulous food that there was no time for silly things like frilly clothes or the combing of one's hair. No, my friends, it was all about the FOOD.

On the menu:
Rose Hibiscus Mint tea
Dragon Pearls Jasmine tea
PG Tips English tea
English cucumber finger sandwiches
Hot house tomato finger sandwiches
Avocado finger sandwiches
Egg salad sandwiches
Pickled asparagus with stone ground mustard
Olive tapenade with toasted sourdough bread
Tuscan potato and sausage soup
Champagne grapes
Fresh strawberries
Quadruple layer All American chocolate cake

And oh, how we feasted.

Many thanks again to Marji who sent me two beautiful tea cups and saucers in the Knitting Vacation Swap last June. They were perfect for our little soiree!

Speaking of Marji, you asked me some questions in previous posts, and I apologize for taking so long to answer them. I had said that I was enjoying watching TV on DVD, and you asked how I did this. The answer is that you can now buy, rent, or borrow entire seasons of certain TV shows to watch at your leisure, without annoying commercials. I've had the pleasure of watching Buffy, Angel, 24, Charmed, Friends, and most recently Scrubs this way. In the near future, I plan to rent Rescue Me, Dead Like Me, and Wonder Falls. I'll let you know what I think.

Also, Marji noticed that I have the Drops Cardigan in my sidebar as one of my unfinished objects. I became aware of this pattern when Mamma knit it up so beautifully last year. As is the case with most of things mamma knits, I had to do this project. The yarn I'm using is one of my all time favorites: Rowan Cashsoft (it's what mamma used too). I set the project aside a couple months ago due to the complicated (for me) nature of the pattern. Now that I've done a lot more knitting and built my confidence up, I'll soon be returning to this project.

But not before I finish Girlie's swing coat sweater, which is thisclose to being done. I'm working on finishing the applied I-cord around the edges as we speak. My goal is to have this sweater wearable by the time she starts 3rd grade (I did not just say that, did I? Where has all the time gone?) September 6th.

Next I want to finish knitting Chrissy's wonderful Winter Branches sweater for my sister A. I'd like to get that to her before the midwest winter gets too cold.

And in the midst of all that, I will be working on my Mystery Sock Knitalong, and without warning will drop everything for my top secret Sock Wars assignment. And these two combined will give me points in Sock a Month 2. Whew!

I've heard talk out there of a tiring of swaps and knitalongs. Not me, baby! It may be because I've been blogging for less than a year, but I don't think I'll ever lose enthusiasm for the excitement of receiving a package of yarny goodness surprises in the mail and the comraderie and support of creating a project along with fellow enthusiastic knitters. Rock on, I say!

It might be hard to tell what Girlie is eating in this next picture, so I will elaborate: She is proudly enjoying a bite of a trout she caught herself at the coast. What a sweet little thang. There's just something so cool about eating a fish you caught yourself, or vegetables and fruit you've grown in your own garden.

And on that note, my lovelies, I will leave you for now.

But not for long this time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Checking in

It's hard to believe it's been almost two weeks since my last post. LOTS happening. But I didn't mean to go MIA and desert you all. Things are fine here in my world, just busy busy busy.

First of all, my sister and her family are here visiting. After a whirlwind couple of days trying to do everything on our "list" (see the ocean being number one), we have now settled down into a routine of eating too much while watching TV on DVD. We tore through season one of Grey's Anatomy (oh how I love that show), then moved on to the first and only season of The Comeback (didn't really get it; thank goodness it was short). Now we've moved on to Scrubs. I've never watched it before--it's kinda funny 3 episodes in.

There exists a freaky little time warp that occurs when my sister comes to town. It's like nothing is real. I get so used to her companionship, and that of my awesome niece and nephews, and then they have to leave. And what I end up missing is not the spectacular things we've done (like our trips to the coast, though nice), but the little everyday things like waking up and knowing they're here and all the things we will do today. What we will have for lunch, what library books are due, what movies we will watch. I get faced with the choice of protecting my heart for when they leave by not letting them in to all of the things I do every day. But how could I not share my life with them? I still believe it's worth all the missing and the inevitable loneliness and tears to fully experience every minute with my beloved family while they are here.

Much knitting is happening. Long set-aside projects are being finished. I will share soon.

My love to all.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I am a floozy

You heard me right. Or a ho. I just cannot resist the pull of an interesting swap or knitalong. SP8 and the One Skein Secret Pal both end this month, and I need something else to fill my time.

As you already know, Amanda started the Mystery Sock Knitalong, which at last count is up to 58 members.Sign-ups go until August 14th, so if anyone out there is still on the fence, there is still time to join. This is the kal where you knit a pair of socks from a pattern that has no picture. Could turn out great--could be fug. That's where the excitement lies.

Jennifer has started the Knitflix Swap in which participants exchange fiber, movies, and goodies. Sign-ups go from now until August 16th.

Chrissy has just started Sock-A-Month 2, in which each participant knits a pair of socks every month from August through December.If you knit extra, you get brownie points and entered into a drawing for some serious fiber goodage. I didn't join the first round because, well, I didn't even know how to knit socks back then. Now with one finished pair done, I feel like I can conquer the world!

Oh wait, that attitude belongs in this next tournament, which I found courtesy of mamma. This is SOCK WARS, where the only rules are:

1. The first rule of Sock Wars is, you must talk about Sock Wars
2. The second rule of Sock Wars is, you MUST talk about Sock Wars.
(no really, for this to be a success we need as many combatants as possible)
3. Two socks to a fight
4. One fight at a time
5. No shirts, no shoes, just socks
6. Fights will go on as long as they have to
7. If this is your first time in Sock Wars, you have to fight.

Sound ambitious? I hope so. I might just get smoked in this tourney, but don't count me out just yet. After all, they did name a hurricane after me (hey, if I have to put up with all the lame jokes EVERY SINGLE TIME I introduce myself to someone, you can deal with it too).

Won't you join me if you dare?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Thank You, Secret Pal!

The goodness just keeps coming. Look what I got in the mail from my SP8 Pal: My fabulous Secret Pal sent a lovely handwritten letter (which is such a rare thing these days) along with a scarf she knit for me herself in my favorite color, purple. She also sent some yummy Bath & Body works shower gel and lotion (I love that place), some Lion Brand Magic Stripes sock yarn (somebody's been reading my blog...), some peach flavored balm, and a tin of green apple candies which she advised is good for holding stitch markers when the candy is all gone. Thank you so much, Secret Pal! You are so thoughtful. I love it all!

Isn't that a cute little smile on Girlie's face? And notice if you will her hand draped proprietary-like on the scarf. She wants it for herself.Look how soft it is, Mommy.
See how good it looks on me?
Oh no! Now Sproutie wants it too.

Speaking of our kids always wanting what is ours, I always advise new mommies to not let their kids eat off of the mommy's plates, because pretty soon they want anything you're eating. They feel like they SHOULD HAVE IT. NOW. How do I know this? The Count and I learned it the hard way. Witness adorable Sproutie here forming a hostile takeover of his daddy's stir-fried vegetables.
The thing I find most cute about those pictures is how adorably skinny little Sproutie's legs are. It's a wonder those little sticks can hold the child up. By this age, both Girlie and ZimDee were monsters. But not Sproutie. He's taking after his mommy and staying little. There are plenty of great things about being small. I can personally attest to that. How about fitting into the coolest hiding places during hide and seek? Not feeling crowded into a car or airplane seat? Huh? See what I mean?

Here's a photo taken of our growing little family last weekend. It won't be long before Girlie's towering over us. And if you've been paying attention, no, that's not a trick of lighting. My hair is darker. For the heck of it I decided to change things up. I like my natural hair color just fine. It's kind of a dark blonde-light brown shade. But you know how we get--sometimes we like to see a change. I was telling the Count that I should probably wait to dye my hair until it turns grey and I actually NEED to do it. But it's kind of fun for now. It will always grow out.

Finally, congratulations to Tim for winning the movie line contest from The Fugitive. Being in Chicago reminded me of that movie again. "Next stop-Merchandise Mart." That was such a great picture.

The next movie lines up for your consideration are:

"Earmuff it for me."

"I thought we were in the trust tree in the nest, were we not?"

Good luck to all.