Saturday, December 29, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I'm sorry I've been away for so long. Things have been hectic here. I had one sick person after another to care for (which is tough when you live with two 3 year olds) and then my inlaws came to stay for a week. Granted, I hit the jackpot when it comes to inlaws, but it still means I have to clean and entertain.

On the knitting front, I finished my cardigan for my niece as well as the afghan for my mom. Then I got the braniac idea that I needed to wash the afghan. And it exploded. Big holes. Granted, I did this on the gentle cycle (hand wash) but it doesn't matter. I couldn't patch it. It was beyond patching. So I fixed the holes as best I could, and gave the afghan to my daughter who had been coveting it since the project began. She sleeps with it every night. ;-)

We had a nice Christmas here. The girls got lots of toys and pjs and sheets. And books galore! They were so happy.

I got a fancy dog dryer from my folks, a gift certificate for my hair salon from hubby, as well as a pedometer that hooks into my computer. Since I'm almost 20 pounds down now (less than a pound to go), I really need to kick up the exercise if I want to keep up the trend.

In other news, my one dog had an exploding anal gland. If you aren't familiar with the anal gland, it's right where you think it is. Poor girlie. She has to have warm compresses and antibiotics. Major ouchie. It happens sometimes. I think she had too much junk (and not enough fiber) while my guests were here.

Well, that's about all the news that's fit to print. I'm going to try to be better in the new year in sharing my knitting projects. I'm still waiting on my ISE5 scarf from my pal -- she had a delay -- but when that comes, I'll post for sure!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

knitting swaps

I recently participated in ISE5, an international scarf exchange. My "international" pal was in MD (I'm also in the midatlantic region), so it wasn't so international for me, but I may be lucky enough to meet my pal at some point. I'm not sure yet who my pal is; she (he?) has carpal tunnel and was unable to finish in time but is going to send my scarf to me later. I can't wait!

Now I'm looking forward to participating in the Hot Cocoa Swap. The signup is Dec 16, so mark your calendar!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Not Applicable?

This week one of my daughters had a follow appointment at the pediatrician. They asked me to fill out one of those forms that doctors tend to have us fill out to update their information.

So I'm looking at the form, and I fill out the name and address section, and then I see they are asking about medical history. Which of the following things did your parents or close relatives have? This went on for a page and a half.

I sat there looking at it for about 5 minutes. I wasn't confused. I knew I couldn't write anything because we don't know. My daughters were born and adopted in another country. But what struck me is how many times my children will have to look at this form in their lifetimes. And how many other people have to look at this form -- and they don't know! Yet there was no "not applicable" box or anything. No "nod" to the segment of the population (which I know to be more than my two children) who have no idea about their biological medical history. (BTW, Medical Community, N/A might be an important answer. Better than my not checking anything and just handing it in.)

So I had to write a big fat N/A across the section. Then I handed it to the nurse and said, "I couldn't really answer this." She looked at it, laughed nervously, and said, "well, that's ok."


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sweaters galore

I've been working on two different sweaters for Christmas gifts. The first was a santa-style sweater which I gave to a friend...did I mention it was for her dogs? She admired it at a show, and it just seemed silly to have her pay for one. I made something similar (not identical) which was more easily adjusted for her dogs (who aren't all the same exact size.)

Now I'm working on a cardigan for my niece. She's only a few months old, and the cardigan is for a 12 month old, but it's light weight, and she should get some good use out of it. I figure too big is better than too small when it comes to children!

I also am still working on that throw. It's taking forEVer. I've got about 4 feet done, but it really needs to be about a foot longer. Thankfully I am making good progress, and I still have time!

I also want to make 3 more washcloths for the kids. They really need something for washing their faces and I thought they'd be more excited if they had their very own washcloth, made just for them. The washcloths are fast, though. I can do them each in a day.

More knitting photos to come!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cool Contest

If you haven't been over to Fine Martial Fiber, go check it out. She's having a cool Contest for some yarn and needles. You just have to recognize some famous smiles. Go check it out!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My favorite!

As this is not very calorie friendly, I only make this at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm working on a healthier version for the rest of the year (it's really delicious, and cranberries are very good for you.)

Cranberry-Apple Casserole

3 C peeled chopped apples (make them about the size of cranberries)
2 C cranberries (fresh)
2 T flour
3 Pkg instant oatmeal (cinnamon spice flavor)
3/4 C chopped pecans
1/2 C flour
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C butter, melted

Combine apples, cranberries, 2 T flour, tossing to coat fruit. Add 1 C sugar, mixing well. Place in 2 qt casserole.

Combine oatmeal, nuts, 1/2 C flour, and brown sugar. Add butter and stir well. Spoon over fruit mixture.

Bake uncovered at 350F for 45 minutes.

You can make this a day or two ahead of time and bake just before serving. You can garnish this with extra cranberries and pecans -- make Holly shapes at Christmas!

We serve this with the meal, but it would also be wonderful for dessert with vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Christmas is coming

I am working on two Christmas projects, and the one is killing me. I'm making a throw for my mom. It's easy. Very pretty, but very easy. And thus, boring as hell. But it's super soft and plush, and I know she'll love it, so I try to do 12 rows a day (which takes awhile since it's almost 4 feet wide), and eventually, it will be finished.

The pattern is Scallops and Squares from the BHG book, "Knitted Gifts." The yarn is Knit Picks Shine Worsted in "blush."

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Garterlac Washcloth

The engineer wanted me to make something for her that was pink, and she picked out this pink varigated cotton. So I tried a few different patterns, and then I found this washcloth pattern over on Criminy Jickets. When he says cast on really loosely, he ain't foolin. But despite my less loose cast-on (next time, Dave), I think it came out pretty well.

Friday, November 2, 2007

All Done!

I finished the scarf for ISE5. I need to do a little touch up blocking, but I think it came out pretty good!

What do you think? I know it is a little shiny in the photo due to the silk. It's not shiny at all in real life.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Chest hair pull tab.

I can't explain it. It brings back too many memories. You just have to look for yourself.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mason-Dixon Knitting by Kay Gardiner and Ann Meador Shayne

I just read this book, and I thought I'd share my take on it. It's basically a book that was written by two internet pals who met through a knitting board. They are funny in kind of a silly way, so if you are a "let it all hang out" type person, you might appreciate their sense of humor. (I did.)

The patterns in the book are simple, although I thought it was odd that they recommended various cast on methods for some of the patterns without explaining how to do them, but then explained that you had to bring the yarn to the front to purl (or back to knit.) I think of the latter as a basic thing you should know, but I don't know how many methods most people know for casting on. (I know two well, but maybe I'm slow.)

Many of the patterns are for home accessories -- rugs, linens, dish cloths -- although there are also wearable items, including scarves, a nightie (yes, really!) and a baby kimono (ok, that one is only wearable by babies.) I thought the patterns were attractive, and definitely not typical of the average knitting book. I think the first thing I make from the book will be the baby bibs (my sister just had a baby.)

If you want to get a better feel for their writing style and what sort of patterns appeal to the authors, definitely check out their blog, Mason-Dixon Knitting. They have some cute free patterns on their website as well as the errata of their book patterns.

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's time for an update

I can't believe I haven't posted in so long. I had kind of an exciting time. My BFF, Carmen (from a previous post), came to stay with me for a few days. That was SO nice. I haven't seen her since 99, when she was in my wedding! It was like no time had passed, and we had just stepped back into our old friendship like a warm blanket.

My daughters love her. They've been asking about her almost every day, and tell me that they are making art for her. It was actually a pretty awesome connection between them and her. She's not much of a kid person, but she corrected herself, "I only like well-behaved kids like yours." They loved her! The superstar did embarass me properly by asking Carmen when she first got up in the morning, "You have new hair? Why you have new hair?" Poor Carmen had to explain that it was a product of sleeping on it funny!

I also frogged my ISE5 scarf. I love it now. I'm doing it JUST as the pattern describes. My knitting teacher looked at it, and had never seen the pattern. She loved it and asked where I got it so that she could make it as well. I think I'm going to have a hard time sending it off!

The engineer's "so-called scarf" is almost finished. It's so easy and great for night-time tv knitting. She is so excited about it and has been going on about it.

Now I have to come up with another pattern for the superstar.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


I promise not to show more of this until I finish, but I'm really pleased with this now. That dark spot in the lower right is just a shadow.
I've completed three repeats on the mock cable, and it has flow now. I'm trying to figure out how I want to do the double twist section in here as a chunk. I think maybe just as I did in the beginning, because I want the focus to be on the cable part, not the break.

Friday, October 5, 2007

We have cable!

I'm sure this is incredibly boring, but I finally made it into the repeat of the mock cable. I'm pretty happy, and I think once it's blocked, it will look good!

Just call me Crabby Patti

Ok, if you don't have little kids, you probably don't get the Sponge Bob reference. (I actually don't let my kids watch that much tv, but that's the one show that they watch that I'll actually watch a little.)

Anyhoo...I posted a photo of my scarf progress over on ISE5, and I decided I was mad at it, and pulled it out. Either a.) the pattern is much tougher than I think, or b.) the flow between faux-seafoam and mock cables just doesn't happen that well. So I started again, and I'm happier with the flow. I'm going to make the cable chunks longer, with this as an occasional separator. Hopefully it will continue to go well, but right now, I'm happy. I have faith that with some washing and blocking, it will actually look ok, and not be an embarassing thing that someone gets in the mail and immediately frogs to use the yarn.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Evil Seafoam Pattern

So I've been working on my scarf for ISE5. If everything that I knit were a part of this scarf, I think I'd be almost finished. I knit a swatch and blocked it. There were some minor problems, but I consulted with a friend who is a master knitter, and she gave me some tips. Unfortunately, that didn't help. I think this pattern was not meant to be with this particular yarn (even though it's recommended for the pattern). So I changed the seafoam portion to a twisted drop stitch for the rows with the yarn-overs, and that kept the lacy look, but it just looked cleaner. I'm going to keep the double-ribbed mock cable section.

Let's hope this works, because I'm getting tired of starting over!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Knitting class

I knit. I knit pretty well. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm good. You could wear my stuff in public and not want to hide. But I have gaps in my knowledge, and my technique stinks. So I thought "ok, I'll take a knitting class." Smart thing to do, right? theory. Last week was the first week. We did casting on. Now if you don't knit, let me tell you there are a lot of ways to cast on. This was not a particular method that I was familiar with, so I was happy to learn it. But we did it for two hours. That was a bit long for me, although there were clearly people who need it!

She said that we'd do more cast on next time, and then do some knitting. I haven't decided what yarn to take, but I think I'll pick a color and knit something for one of the kids.

I don't want to take my ISE5 project. I've finished the first seafoam portion and I'm going to start the mock cables tomorrow. I did a sample, blocked it, and it looked good. So I started again, and I'm off and running. I just have a month to finish and get it in the mail for my secret pal.

Back to my class...I'm really lucky. I have a nice teacher, and she seems smart. She's pretty easy-going, too. Of course, she is preschool teacher, so I think she'd have to be! Hopefully she'll help me hold my needles a little better to become a more efficient knitter, and help me with fixing the booboos. I can unknit a row, but if it's farther down, I'm in big trouble.

Enough for tonight. I have insomnia, but someone is coming early in the morning to work on the house, so I won't be able to sleep in. Must try to get some rest....

Monday, September 24, 2007

Everyone needs a blankie sometimes

Today did not start well. I woke up with a headache and an upset stomach on top of the usual PMS. I came downstairs with the children to start our day. Almost immediately, they were fighting over their breakfast, throwing toys, yelling...I have good kids, but today was rough. I took them to the Y, the plan being that they would go to the babysitting room for a bit while I worked out, and then I'd take them swimming.

I should have turned around and gone home when they told me that they didn't have me in the babysitting schedule, despite my calling for a reservation. But they made room for me. Then both girls started screaming at the top of their lungs. The Y gives you 15 minutes before they come to get you to tell you to come get your child. One stopped crying within a few minutes, but the other held out the entire 15 minutes. Then she said Mommy Mommy Mommy until about 3 minutes before I got there (according to the staff.) They made it pretty plain that they would prefer she not return. (Ya don't say?)

So I grab our stuff and take the girls to the changing room. While I'm trying to change one, the other one is taking the pool noodle and trying to poke the ceiling tiles out. She's nothing if not creative, no? Then while I'm changing her, the other one is putting her lips on the drain on the floor, shouting "HELLLOOOOO!"

I finally got them dressed and we walked into the pool find that the schedule was wrong, and there WAS in fact a class in there. No open lanes. So I have to take the kids back in the changing room (this time I sat on the noodles and put my foot on the drain -- just call me a contortionist) and get them (and myself) redressed to leave. They were whining "we want to go simming!" (No, that's not a typo. They are 3.)

We got out to the car, and I put them in the minivan, and as I'm sitting in my seat, trying to get myself ready to go, they started screaming at each other as to whether a particular aspect of "Finding Nemo" were funny or not.

It was then that I lost it. I sat in my minivan in the YMCA parking lot, and I sobbed. I looked quite attractive, with mascara running down my cheeks (should have put on the waterproof stuff). I managed to get it together to get home, and I started again as soon as we got in the house. I felt like the suckiest mother ever.

It was then that the drain kisser came over, and put her hand on my arm. "Mommy? You ok?"

I shook my head, and said, "Mommy is just feeling sad today."

"Mommy? You want my yellow baba?" (That's her blankie.)

So there we sat, the three of us on the sofa, with one child stroking my hair, and the other one rubbing her yellow baba on my cheek.

Of course, the moment was over about five minutes later, as one was jumping up and down in the arm chair, screaming "NEMO! NEMO!" and the other was running around the room, half naked.

I think I need my own baba.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I'm so excited -- I both got assign as a secret pal, and a secret pal was assigned to me. I'm really looking forward to making my scarf. I picked out a neat pattern. I like the faux cables a lot -- it makes it a bit different than the usual scarf. Plus it has a little bit of laciness, which my person likes, so I think they'll be as excited as I am. I'm making the scarf in a baby alpaca/silk yarn in pink. I promise to take pictures!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Mama Mirabelle

I'm always looking for educational tv for the kids that doesn't make me want to tear my hair out. ("Lalala Lalala, Elmo's World...") My kids don't watch that much tv, but when they do, I want it to be good stuff.

This week I heard about a show called Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies. It's new this fall. This is good news, because it means I haven't seen the shows 300 times each. It's really lovely! It is geared towards preschool kids, but I can imagine kids in early elementary might enjoy this show too.

Mama Mirabelle (voice: Vanessa Williams) is a cartoon elephant who hangs out with her toddler son (Max), a zebra foal (Karla), a cheetah cub (Bo), and a group of monkey children (Flip, Chip, and Kip). They sing songs, tell stories, and it's all interspersed with National Geographic Archive video of wild animals.

It's on at 7am in my area, so I record it on my dvr so the kids can watch it at a more convenient time (Mommy is not an early bird). If you want to see a clip, go here.

I suspect this is going to be a popular show in our house!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sorta like a dragon, I guess...

When we were in China, I had this wonderful fruit that I could not identify. It was white with little black seeds in it. It reminded me most of a kiwi.

When we got home, I did some research, and found out it was called a dragon fruit. Dragon fruit only grow in tropical climes, and they have a very short growing season. So if you see them in your market, not only are you lucky, you will need to pay a pretty penny to get one. They cost 10USD/lb where I live, and they can way over 1/2 pound a piece, so two will probably run you about 15USD.

I found them last week at my local Wegman's. There were only *4* in the basket, so I snagged two. A man was standing next to me, and started following me around. He finally got the courage to ask me what they were (there was no label.) I explained, and told him that I wouldn't buy them unless he knew he'd like it because of the price.

I enjoy cutting them in half, and then scooping out the flesh with a spoon, but when I gave some to my kids, I cut the fruit out like you would a melon.

Here's a picture of the ones I bought. As you can see, this flesh is pink (they call it red, but it's really fuscia). The ones I had in China were white, but they also come in kind of a tangerine color.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

I jumped the fence...shh, my husband doesn't know!

I have two beautiful daughters. Twins, in fact. They were born in Anhui Province in China. We get asked a lot if we asked for twins during the adoption province. We did not. In fact, we said we were willing to adopt a boy or girl or twins. We were open for anything, and it's a good thing, because anytime twins come into the picture, you had better be open for anything!

My husband and I are caucasian. His parents are from Wisconsin, and he has kind of strawberry blonde/light auburn hair and green eyes, and a double dose of freckles. I have medium brown hair (at least, that's what color I grew up with) and dark brown eyes, and a very fair complexion (most of my ancestors are from the United Kingdom). Our children are, as you might guess based on their birth place, asian. They have dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. Their facial features are distictively asian.

When we were in Hefei (the capital of Anhui), a young chinese woman came up to me as I was holding one of the girls. She asked, "Are you her mother?" "Yes," I replied. "Where is her father?" I pointed at my husband. "Oh," she said, walking off, "I thought she was Chinese!"

I thought it was a cute story, but didn't really think much of the comment. China is a very big place, and perhaps they do not know how frequently Americans adopt from China. However, I get asked this question in the States! Yes, really! Most frequently people, after my husband and I, ask if we adopted our girls. Not only is that a rude question (how is it their business), but DUH, don't you think it's obvious?

My friend suggested instead that I say, "I jumped the fence. Shhh! My husband doesn't know! Thanks for bringing it up!" But I'm afraid that the questioner might believe me, and soon the girls will be old enough to ask me what that means. I don't EVEN want to go there.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Children Listen

I always think that my children only listen to the stupid stuff that comes out of my mouth, like when I called the person driving 20 miles an hour with a left blinker on a jerkface, and told them to MOOOVE! (And not 5 minutes later, one calls the other a jerkface and says "MOOOOVE!")

This morning my daughters were having a disagreement, and one clocked the other. No blood, or anything. It's typical three year old stuff. But the next bit was the amazing part.

"Sissy, I like you, but I not like when you mean to me."

We always try to use language in which we say we love the child, just not the behavior. Who knew they were actually listening?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

such a sad day

So unless you have spent the last 6 years under a rock, you know that today is the anniversary of the terrorist attack on the US. I was thinking about where I was when it happened.

I was working full-time, outside of the home in a major city not terribly far from NYC. My husband and I both worked at large, neighboring universities. My coworker and best work friend, Mel, was on vacation and called me to ask if I knew what was going on. She just saw a plane fly into one of the towers on tv. Since I was working somewhere with no radio, and no tv, we were dependent on the internet, and it was EXTREMELY slow getting to any news websites. She was our connection to the outside world, so her time on the phone with me was precious. She was the one who told me about the second plane, that the towers collapsed, about flight 93, and about the pentagon.

When I got off the phone with her, I tried to call my husband to see how we were going to get home. He and I took public transit (trains) and they were all shut down. The phones were all down, and I was panicked. I had no idea how I would find him in this chaos. Somehow he managed to get through to me. He had found a coworker who lived out our way and who had an SUV. We packed as many people in as we could, and had to stay off the highways since every major road was having a huge traffic jam.

When we got home, we tried to find something light to watch on tv, but of course, there was nothing. All we could watch was the same stuff over and over. We went outside for awhile, but our neighborhood, which is normally full of kids playing outside, was dead silent. All we could hear were the birds singing, which seemed eerie given the circumstances. In the end, we pulled out a dvd and watched "Pat and Mike," and I made spaghetti for dinner (I remember that specifically because I was kind of hoping for a carbohydrate coma.)

The thing that made the whole thing feel so close to home for me was that I used to have a recurrent nightmare that I was standing on the street, and I watched an airplane crash into a glass skyscraper. I would have this dream over and over, and I'd wake up shaking, soaked in sweat.

Ironically, I never had that dream again after 9-11.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Why does stuff like this happen to me?

I'm one of those people who has things happen to her that don't happen to anyone else. I attract the madness. Of course, I also AM the madness, so I'm sure that's part of the problem. My bff, Carmen, finds these happenings to be an endless source of amusement. If you know the following story, then you either know Carmen, or you know someone who knows Carmen. I understand that she has told this story on buses, and as a professor, she has probably told her students. Good thing I love her.

When I was in grad school, I was put in a dorm room for someone with a hearing impairment. I realize most graduate students don't live in the dorms, but it worked for me for a year. Anyway, my room had a door bell outside that would buzz and make a light flash in the room. People who came to see me in the dorms liked pushing the button. (Why is it that grown people like to push buttons?)

One night, at around 3am (ok, technically that's morning, but I was sleeping AND it was dark, so I think we can all agree to call it "night") someone braniac decided to make toast or something else that involved burning food beyond all recognition. If you've ever lived in a dorm, you know what happened next....the fire alarm went off.

Because of my oh-so-special room, I had my own fire alarm AND an attached strobe light, which happened to be directly over my bed. So I'm enjoying my REMs, and suddenly I'm in a disco with very bad music with no beat.

I don't sleep in more than a tshirt and underwear, so I thought it would be wise to grab some pants and perhaps grab my glasses (without which I am as blind as a bat -- see the irony in living in the disco room for the hearing impaired?) I get my feet through the leg holes of my sweat pants, can't find my glasses (screw it), and race through the fire tower. As I'm running, I noticed that the string seems to be out of my sweat pants, and they are very loose. No matter, I am running for my life! Toast is afire!

You may have noticed that I wrote that I only grabbed my sweat pants. So not only am I blind (as a bat without my glasses!), I also don't have a key to my suite. I'm locked out.

Some time has passed, so other grad students have gathered around me, sitting next to me, leaning against the walls, and generally looking very dazed. I look down, pretending not to notice the various sleeping attire everyone had chosen, when a hole caught my eye. A hole in my sweat pants, right in the crotchal region. Gee, that's a pretty big hole. Almost as big as my head! I should really throw these out.

I then notice that the leg holes in the sweats are knit-ribbed, not elasticized. Hmm. That's interesting. I don't remember sweat pants like this.

Then a very dim lightbulb comes on. That is not a hole in my sweatpants. That is the neck hole for the sweatshirt I am now wearing on my legs. I have my legs in the arms. And I am locked out of my room on the 19th floor of a dormitory.

I had to walk 19 floors to the front desk in this get up and request a key. Normally you need an ID to request a key, but I guess they figured no one would come out from the street dressed like this, so they gave me the key. I did change before returning said key. I have *some* dignity.

Now you all know why I think it's always a good time for a nap. When you are napping, no one sees you wearing your sweatshirt as pants.

My (non)knitting

So I grew up with a great aunt who knitted for me. Beautiful stuff... fairaisle cardigans and chunky cabled pullovers. I think I knit a scarf. And when I say knit, I mean knit. Can you say "garter stitch?"

Then while I was working (for money, as opposed to taking care of small children for love), my coworker was a knitter, and encouraged me to get back into it. She refreshed my casting on and knitting skills (ha,ha) and prodded me to learn more. And I did! I was riding the train every day to and from the city, and what a great way to spend 45 minutes (or more, as there were frequently "lines down," which I think was code for "we don't know what the heck is wrong, so we'll just tell you that") each way.

Then I became a mommy. My work changed. No more commute. Just caring for twins babies. (Just. HA!) I had one more burst of knitting during that time, but it just became too hard to get much done. I did collect a stash of yarn (nothing fantabulous) and patterns during that time, however.

Now my babies are three, and I need a project that is just mine. So I'm knitting again. I even signed up for a knitting class through our county night school program. Even though I can knit and purl and follow a pattern, I have *stinky* "fix a booboo" skills. So I am taking the class that teaches that, which also happens to be the beginner class. I suspect I may be bored but I figure it's better to be bored and learn properly than to just fake it into upper classes. The class is just five weeks, and I can take the intermediate class next time.

Just so my ISE5 pal is not horrified, I really can knit, although I wouldn't sign up for a sock or sweater exchange just yet. Aside from my inability to frog well, I also haven't mastered seaming yet. I would want to practice that a bit more before inflicting it on someone else.


I started this blog because I'm participating in ISE5. It's as good a reason as any, right?