Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Not Fair!

 was wakened most cruelly this morning.

There I was, dressed in a glamorous empire waisted gown of gold, my long silky hair all wavy down my back and long cream colored gloves covered my arms to just above the elbow.  It was just him and me in this large room.  He had just walked in and stood looking breathlessly at my beauty.  He, (Tom Selleck) was just about to ask me to dance when suddenly, there was a little boy's piercingly high pitched voice yelling right outside my door that tore me right out of that wonderful dream.   Not fair, not fair, not fair...

Wouldn't you just know it?  Of course, having Tom Selleck as the leading man in the dream might just be showing my age, but who cares?  It was Tom and it was about to get good.  Darn it.

The cruel little boy and I just finished rolling out yesterday's failed nut roll dough (the second batch of the nut rolls turned out fantastic) and made cookies with it.

They're actually not bad.  Maybe my baking mojo hasn't left me completely.  I made an icing from orange juice and powdered sugar and coated the cookies.  Once they are dry, I'm going to get out the food color markers and let the kids color them, probably some time this evening.

This will be the last of the cookie baking that is to be done for this Christmas season.   Tomorrow I'll be cooking a Pork loin and making some Creamed Spinach for my part of the Christmas Eve dinner we'll be having with my In-Laws.

This is the last post until after Christmas.  I'll be out of town for about a week or so, enjoying the Holidays and spending time with family.

Have a Very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Where's my baking mojo gone?

I decided that today would be a good day for baking.  The Eldest was as school and the Youngest went off with his Grandpa.  Yes, school is still in, today is the last day though.  So, using a recipe that I got from here, I started making my nut rolls.  Well. 

Somehow, I looked at my recipe card all wrong and got my sugar quantities backwards with the bulk of it going in the dough.  Guess what?  My dough didn't rise.  All those ingredients (4 cups of flour, 1 cup milk, 1/2 pound of butter, 2.25 tsp yeast), wasted, at least on this recipe.

I have now started over and am waiting for the dough to rise, again.  I feel like such a dumba$$ right now. 

Hopefully, the first batch that went wrong won't be a total waste.  I'm going to roll it out and make some cookies from it.  If it goes wrong there too, at least I will have tried to save the ingredients.

On the good side, I did not royally screw up the 7 cups of pecans that I've substituted for the walnuts that the recipe called for.  At least I woke the hell up and stopped and re-read the recipe before doing that.  Thank God for small favors!

I'm planning on having these Nut Rolls on Christmas morning.  Something really easy and already made so that we don't have to deal with making breakfast that day.  Our Christmas mornings are chaotic enough all ready, what with the two boys and a bazillion toys and wrapping paper and cats and dogs everywhere. 

Wish me luck that I can actually succeed in making these, will ya?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Jewelry and Yarn Bowls!

I've got some earrings to share with you today.  The local Bead Shop, (I guess in yarny type terms that would be the LBS) had some really cute kits for Christmas earrings.  I made the Christmas trees a few weeks ago and the Snowmen today:

I think the little snowmen are absolutely adorable and I can't wait to wear them.   They were super easy to make as well.  I used sterling lever backs and t-pins.  The type of beads in the kit were way to fancy for just any cheap old findings.  Cute huh?

As far as knitting goes, the shawl is coming along.  I figure a few more movies out to do it. 

Also in the pic, (besides the little boy feet - he insisted on getting in the picture somehow - he's as bad as the cat), is my new yarn bowl!  My best buddy got me this at a Holiday market.  It's so funny, she had no idea what the bowl was until she asked the crafter and she knew I was the only person in the world (her world that is) that would figure out what it was.  Sure enough, I opened my present today and said, "Yay!  A yarn bowl!"  She was very smug about the whole thing of course.  :)  I love her.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Slockin Mystery Has Been Solved

I have solved the mystery of the Slockin.  I feel so smart now.  really.

About a year ago, the kids and I discovered some really cool little movies.  One was about this tiny dinosaur who goes to audition for a rock band.  He ends up dueling (using electric guitars) with this really big ugly guy.  The big ugly guy is the Slockin.  Why the Youngest named him the Slockin?  That's a mystery for another day.

Another little movie that the kids have had me play over and over and over etc. is about two robots.  Everyone in my extended family knows about the robot movie now.  It's even infected my Dad. He and the Youngest now argue over who is going to be the tank "wobot" and the airplane "wobot". 

You should really take a look at both of these.  They're very short, just a couple of minutes each and were done really well.  Like Pixar well.  The movies were done by graduates of the University of Hertfordshire and are absolutely marvelous.  I hope these guys got a job working somewhere really prestigious, they deserve it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Don't Understand!

The Youngest came up to me a few minutes ago and graciously told me that I "could be his servant."  That's funny, I thought I already was...

Then he handed me a drum stick and told me that I could be a Slockin.  "What is a Slockin?" I asked.  I was told it's a man that says (in a bad guy voice of course) "I want my guitar!"    Well.  That explains that, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Photo Frame

I've been so frustrated this Christmas.  I've been trying to find a 5 x 7 Christmas photo frame and I don't know if I'm looking in all the wrong places or if there just aren't as many as there used to be.  I've looked in every store and dollar store that I can find and haven't seen one.

So I decided to take things in my own hands and make one.  Very cheap, cause I'm like that ya know.

1 Frame found at the Dollar Tree, for a dollar of course.  Add one gold leafing pen from Walmart for a couple of bucks (this one i consider to be an investment since I will use this in future projects), for a couple of dollars:

After using them together?  One almost instant Christmas photo frame for 3 bucks. 

Just what I was looking for.  Now if I only had better hand writing...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Clever Little Shawl 2.0

I'm not sure why, but I'm not enamored with the Pretty Thing Cowl that I've not been working on.  Yep, you read that correctly, I'm not working on it.    I have put it down and instead picked up a project that my Mom requested.  This one is Carol's Clever Little Shawl:

Actually this is the Clever Little Shawl 2.0 since I've already made this one once before out of my own handspun yarn:

The 2.0 is being worked up in Paton's Wool in color Jade Heather.  It's an incredibly fast knit and really is clever.  No shawl pins or buttons needed and it keeps me sooooo warm.  I use the burgundy one constantly around the house, it's one of my favorite knits.  It's also a fairly mindless knit too, great for tv watching. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Gingerbread House for Preschoolers!

On Saturday the Youngest had a birthday party to go to.  That was one brave mom.  She had around fifteen 4 year olds to contend with.  That's way too many at one party for me.  When the Youngest has his in January, he might get two friends.  maybe.

I would be so panicked to have a party right before Christmas.  Can you imagine getting duplicates of the toys that you already bought and have hidden in the closet? 

The reason I'm telling you all this is that I wanted to share a really cute Christmas idea for little hands that the kids made at the party:

A Gingerbread House for Preschoolers!

Here's what you need to make it:

1 empty and washed carton of milk or half and half.  This is the 16 oz size.
Graham Crackers - 6 cracker sheets - do not separate them!
4 Old fashioned soft candy canes
13 chocolate teddy grahams
2 Reeses Peanut Butter Cups - the fatter bite size ones, not the thin large ones
1 Pack LifeSavers Candy
1 bag M & M's
1 bag tiny M & M's
Hershey Bar - fun size
Pretzel sticks
2 Large Marshmallows
Assorted other candies
Polyester Fiberfill
1 can white frosting
Craft or Popsicle stick for the kids to use to spread the frosting
1 toothpick


Have the kids cover the sides of the carton with frosting.  As each side is frosted place 1 sheet of the graham crackers against the frosting.  The frosting acts as your glue.  The four sides will be taller than the top of the carton and will also not go all the way to the corners of the carton.

Next frost your roof, both sides.  Take 1 sheet of graham crackers and divide it in two and place on top of the roof.  You will need to break off the top edges of both to get them the right size to make your A frame roof.  Don't worry if the edges are rough, it will be filled in.

Next fill in the four exposed corners of the carton with frosting and then press in the candy canes.  (See the above picture for details)

Then you're going to fill in your roof edges with frosting and press in your M & M's (larger sized) into it.  The Teddy grahams are used for windows.  There are four on the back and sides and there are two teddies on top and two on bottom.  You frost the back of them before applying to the house.

Chimney - frost one of the peanut butter cups and apply to the roof.

Gum drops - Apply frosting on the plate around the bottom of the house and press the gum drops into that.  You can make a walkway if you want.

Door - Take the fun size Hershey Bar and frost the back of it and apply it to the house.  4 life savers were frosted and used as decoration above the door.

You can use any other assorted candies and apply them as you want.  The kids loved putting all the candy on.

Snowman - Yes, there is a snowman in the photo, it's just difficult to see him.  He's to the right of the house and is leaning over a little.  Use a toothpick to hold the three large marshmallows together.  Frost the front of the top one and then using the tiny M & M's, make a face.  Two pretzel sticks are used for the arms.  Frost the other peanut butter cup next and use as the snowman's hat.

Finish with using some Fiberfill as snow.  It doesn't take much, a little goes a long way!

That's it!  A super cute idea for little hands at Christmas!  I wish I had thought of it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Good Day!

Today was a good day.  I sold some of my handmade jewelry, Woohoo!  Thanks Alyson!  I would really like to set up a trunk show soon for some of my friends and would also like to start selling at some craft fairs.  I need to get moving on building more inventory first though.

Anyway, I'm exhausted now because she came to the house to view it and it was an unholy wreck.  Piles upon piles of kid toys and school papers were everywhere, and dish mountain had grown huge.  So I scrambled to make the house presentable and set out my inventory (which I am going to try and photograph tonight to get the rest up on my etsy page) before she came over. 

Speaking of etsy, anybody got any good tips on getting more traffic to my shop?  I've had the shop open for a couple of months now and haven't sold one single thing there.  I must be doing something wrong.  Any ideas? You can see some of my wares and a link to my shop if you scroll down and look on the right hand side of my blog.  Ideas and comments would be much appreciated.  Sales also of course!  :)

Exhausted or not, it was well worth it.  Considering our financial straights right now, a little extra cash goes a long way towards keeping a roof over our heads!

Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Doesn't Everyone Sleep With Their Knitting?

Doesn't Everyone Sleep With Their Knitting?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Tahki Yarns Classic Pullover Complete!

As promised, I have a pic of the completed sweater:

Project:  Tahki Yarns Cotton Classic Pullover
 Size: Small
Needles:  Size 6
Yarn:  worsted weight, Hobby Lobby  I Love This Wool!  Solids - Seal Brown

  1. Did the body of the sweater in the round, but the sleeves flat. Keeping the sleeves flat helped immensely when it came time to piece it together. It turned out looking very well finished.
  2. At the neckline, Idid an additional round of decreases to keep the sweater from sliding off my shoulders and then 6 rows of st. st. so that the curl at the top matched that of the bottom.
  3. Used wool instead of cotton.
I was really worried that this sweater had serious problems.  Before blocking I tried it on and both the sleeves and bottom of the sweater were too short and that the waist shaping looked horrible.  The sleeves were about an inch too short, which was odd since according to the specs in the pattern, I had made them an inch longer than I was supposed to.

But with the magic of blocking, the sweater fits me perfectly.  I love the details of the cables on the shoulders matching the cables at the bottom of the sweater and also the curl matching at both the top and the bottom.   I also a love boat neck top, it's so flattering on.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My Frugal Deal Of The Day

The Youngest has this "little" hangup about Super Hero shirts.  We have had the worst knock down drag out fights and temper tantrums over them.  Mainly the fights occur when the shirts are dirty and he can't wear them.  He would wear them dirty daily if he could get away with it.  Which he can't.  Thus the huge, very loud fights.

So I went out today with the goal of finishing up all my shopping for the boys.  One of those gifts was going to be a super hero shirt.  This is a must-have gift that will hopefully save my sanity when another superhero shirt is dirty.  Well, I found one that is perfect.  It has Spiderman, Ironman, Wolverine and some other hero that I can't remember now.  I wrapped it already so I can't go and check.  Darn.  Senility comes earlier and earlier I tell ya.

Anyway, on to the frugality!  I had a JCPenny's coupon good for $10 off of a $10 or more purchase.  The shirt was normally $24.99, but was on sale for $11.99.  It came with a toy car too.  I spent a total of $2.11 for that shirt and toy!  How cool is that?   Two items for $2.11.  You can't get much better than that.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Pretty Thing

I finished my sweater project this past weekend.  It's heading to be blocked now, so I'll have to show you a pic later.  However, I did have one problem with the sweater.  The sleeves.  Too short.  I'm not sure if the designer has short arms or if mine are abnormally long, but they're about an inch too short.  What's funny, is that each sleeve was an inch longer than the pattern specs called for before being set in.  I can assure you that there are not two inches bunched up in the seams.  I have no clue what happened.  I'm going to block it first and then see if I need to pick up stitches on the cuff and add more length.  We'll see what happens.

After finishing the sweater, I picked up a small lace project:

This is the Yarn Harlot's Pretty Thing Cowl, or at least what I've gotten done so far.

For full disclosure, let me state that this is the third cast on of the cowl and it is not the yarn that I originally began it with.

1.  First Cast On:  The first time I cast on for this project, I royally screwed up.  I read the charts like the project was flat and to be turned.  Big Note To Self:  When working with a lace chart in the round, always read the chart from right to left exclusively.  There.  Maybe I won't forget next time.  So I frogged what I had created.

2.  Second Cast On:  The first yarn was some gorgeous silk that I spun into laceweight singles.  However, the yarn wasn't quite bulky enough and just didn't look right.    I could have gone down a needle size (I'm using a US4) and continued to use the silk, but I decided that the silk would be put away and used in a future project.

3. Third Cast On:  This time, my reading of the chart was dead on, my counting of all stitches was correct and the yarn is working up beautifully.  Whew!

The yarn is some recycled yarn from an old sweater of mine that a moth got hold of.  There were only two small holes, but the sweater was out of style anyway so I frogged it.  The yarn is a lovely dove gray and is so incredibly soft.  Let me read you what's in it:  30% cotton, 22% nylon, 20% rayon, 13% lambswool, 10% angora rabbit and 5% cashmere.  What a mix!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Teacher Gifts

Wanna know how I spent my afternoon?  Making teacher Christmas gifts!

Bracelets are such a great gift for teachers.  My Sister In Law is a teacher and absolutely hates the typical "apple for the teacher" kind of gifts.   I figure that most teachers probably feel the same way, so I'm making all of the kids' teachers these pretty glass bead bracelets.

I'm letting the kids pick out what they think the teacher will like.  I didn't make any of these with specific teachers in mind, I just had lots of fun playing with different color combos. 

I'm going to be making some more for my etsy store.  If anyone is interested in any of these for Christmas gifts, just let me know the colors your prefer and whether you want gold, silver or bronze findings and I'll put some together for you.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Flash Your Christmas Decorations!

It's that time of year, when your house comes alive and is cheery and bright.  I challenge you all to flash the interwebz with your lovely Christmas Decorating!

I'll go first.

The Main Tree (there are four, but the rest are all small and scattered around the house):

The Mantle ( my apologies, I couldn't get the lighting right and every pic I took was grainy):

My cute little hutch:

The Clay Pot Nativity Set that I made last year:

My goober of a helper:

Okay, that's all for today.  Now I wanna see yours!  Leave me a link!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

What a Cat's Scarf Style Says About Her

The Daily Mail over in England had an article today about what a man's scarf style tells about him.    I thought I would do something similar to show you the completed Old Shale Scarf, but with a Cat.  That's Female.  And named Widget.

First off, is the Old School Look:

 What this says on a cat?  Please God, let this fall off of me and we'll pretend this never happened.

Next up, The Snuggler:

What this says on a cat?   Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.  Hate me because I'm superior to you in every way.

The next in line, The Undercover Agent.

What this says on a cat?  This one's not working.  The dangly bit was on top of my head, hiding my identity, but it fell off and now I look like a dork.  But this look is fabulous for elongating the body!  Dear God, am I one cat or two?

And last, but not least, The Artiste.

Or maybe not.

What this says on a cat?  I've had enough of the fashion modeling.  F-*bleep* off!

Widget did, however, like the tail that I forgot to weave in though.

It got the big dew claw up!  As opposed to the thumbs up.  that is.  Umm, please ignore the random blurry finger in the last shot.  Obviously the camera woman sucks at taking photos.

*Many thanks to Felicity Cloake for providing today's inspiration!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Afghans, Not Just For Babies Anymore

Plato said that Necessity is the mother of invention.  Do you think he could have been referring to my need for a snow scene under my retro silver and blue Christmas tree that lives in my office/dining room?

This was a baby gift for one of my sons from a great grandmother.  She'd probably have a cow if she saw how her crocheted afghan was being used now.  But isn't it better that we use it and not just put it into a box that's forgotten in the attic?  Here's a closeup:

I love finding alternate uses for items, especially when they've been given to us by family.  It makes things so much more special.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm Back

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving.  Me?  Well, there were enjoyable things, good/bad things and some downright scary things. 

On the enjoyable side, I finished one sleeve on my current sweater project and only have one to go.  I'm about an inch into it.  The food was fantastic.  My Mom should be a professional chef.  I've gained three pounds because of it.  Wait.  Maybe that should be in the bad things category.  I also finished the scarf WIP.  If I remember, I'll block it tonight, but don't hold your breath.

Good/Bad Things - Yay!  We're not moving to Raleigh!  Now I don't have to figure out all the moving stuff.  Boo!  Now there isn't a job in the foreseeable future.  The whole thing fell through based on several factors.    Now I just have to deal with the depression that has set in with the two adults in the household and keep it from affecting the two kids.  It's hard for me to be all creative when I'm depressed.  I tend to pick up books and read to escape reality and this severely cuts into my knitting time.

Downright Scary - A family member was given some scary results on some medical tests.  The person has to go back for more tests to confirm the first tests, so we'll know more at a later date.

Whew!  It was quite the Thanksgiving Holiday this year.  November has not been especially kind to us.  Let's hope December will take pity on us and cut us a break.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


There are four less feet clicking on our floors today at my house.  One less gentle loving friend to greet us at the door.  It's heart breaking.

Jette was 13.5 years old and suffered from hip and knee problems.  Her body just couldn't keep up anymore.  We're going to miss her dearly.  A more gentle, psychotic looking dog you've never met.  She was the best alarm system that we could have had and a wonderful playmate.   She was our first baby and is the first to go of our four footed children. 

It's been difficult to explain to the Youngest.  When he asks where Jette is, we just tell him that "She's at God's house."  He asked us after that if the baby was hugging her and we said, "Yes, Baby Jesus is hugging her."  It's only the truth.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I'll see you on Monday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Easy Denim Quilt

I showed you a WIP last week that was over a year and a half old.  Well, this week's FO completely put it to shame.  This one took me over SEVEN YEARS.  Yep, seven whole years. 

This is my denim quilt that I began way back when: and finished a couple of nights ago:

We were cleaning out the garage and I found it.  The reason that I never finished it was because of the scissors and denim combination.  You have to clip through two layers of denim and two layers of cloth and it's very tiring on the hands.    When I found it again, I got it out and started cutting. I ended up using small garden shears to do it. I was supposed to be doing laundry, but we all know how that goes, huh?   I ended up with blisters on my thumb and my pinky finger the other night as I finished it.  Not the fun part of this quilt.   Then I washed and dried it and it was ready to go. 

The denim was all from jeans that were worn my me, the hubby and the Eldest.  The Youngest wasn't even a thought at the time of this quilt's beginning.  This is such a great way to use up old denim jeans and jackets.

Here's a close up so you can see what I'm talking about with the clipping of the denim.  The clipping allows the backing fabric and the denim to fray so that the backing color peeks in through the denim in the front. 

It is an incredibly easy quilt to make.  The hard part is getting enough denim to start the project. 

How do you make it?

Wash your backing fabric first!  Then start cutting out squares.  You will have to do some math to figure out how many to make.  It depends on if you want a throw size or a specific bed size.  This one is a twin size.    A smaller quilt would have been so much smarter to do on my part.      I believe the squares were around 6" square.  Then they were sewn in strips - one denim and one fish.  Next, the strips were all sewn together with the seams all on the denim side.  Clip the seams carefully, don't go through the sewing.  Wash and dry about four or five times and you're done!  You really don't need more instructions than that for this quilt.  If you want more details, let me know and I will attempt to remember back seven years for you.

It's extremely heavy.  This would be a great one to leave in the trunk of the car and use for picnics or other outdoor activities.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Santa Lives at the Mall!

Here at the House O' Shea, we're gettin' into the Christmas Spirit a wee bit early.  We do this every year really, because I hate the Christmas crowds, specifically, the ones waiting to see Santa.

I got the kids dressed up and off we went to the mall.  (I should have inspected the Eldest before the picture, I let him dress himself and I didn't notice until we got home that his collar was all out of whack.)  There were no other people in line, yay!  We walked in, talked to Santa and off we went.  Well, sort of.  It took about ten different takes to get an okay picture.  They were either blinking, not smiling at all or were distracted by other stuff in the mall and wouldn't look at the camera.  I took what I could get, messed up collar and all.  I'm sure Santa's leg was going to sleep with the Eldest sitting on it for so long.  That kid is heavy and tall for his age (9),  he's 85lbs!  

The Youngest was really funny, he went back to talk to Santa some more since there weren't any other kids waiting and asked him where he lived and if he knew where we lived.  Santa replied that the elves have a GPS to help him get to every house, so no worries there.  When we got home The Youngest said, "I had fun going to Santa's house!"  Did you know that Santa lives at the mall? 

Now, I'm almost done with the shopping for the boys.  Again, I hate lines and people with miserable attitudes, so I shop as early as I can.   I've never heard the Youngest as for anything until today.  Crap.  Now my shopping list has been expanded by a couple of toys.  He asked for a Batman Bat Cave with Robin, Joker and Penguin.  They should be delivered next week sometime.  I couldn't wait, I ordered them as soon as I got home from the mall. 

The Eldest has a mile long all year round list that is usually filled with expensive electronic type games, so he's no problem, but I figure I have to get the only thing that the little guy has asked for all year long.  Cause Santa has to bring at least one thing on the kid's list, right?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Return of the WIPs

It's the Return of the WIPs Episode of All Things Shea!  Well, only one really.  Remember this project?

This is the Old Shale Scarf (Ravelry link) by Tienne.  I'm using Colinette Jitterbug Sock Yarn for it.  Aren't the colors great?

I started this project back in September 2008.  The whole project was sidetracked by lots of other projects.  This time, it's sidetracking my current project.  I am halfway through the first sleeve of my sweater and very bored, so it's time to pickup and finish this little 2008 WIP.

It's funny really, I don't have very many WIPs.  (That's Work In Progress for those that aren't familiar with the term.)  I'm a fairly monogamous knitter.  There are only two other WIPs that I have sitting around and those were planned that way so that I would have something to do between big serious projects.  This, however, has just been plain neglected, poor little scarf.    

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Thrill of Bargains

I hit up my favorite thrift shop over the weekend to get the Eldest some "camping" clothes.  Basically, he needed some play clothes that he could wear that it wouldn't matter how much dirt he ground into them.  So, off I went.

Check out the cool deals that I found:

1 pair of camouflage pants = $2.48
1 pair of pants (zip off, REI brand, never worn) = $2.98

Perfect!  But I found more goodies too:

1 Rubbermaid storage tub (it's pink, but I can live with that) = $.99  Most of my jewelry making stuff fits in it, which makes me really happy.  I've been tired of using three smaller storage boxes.
1 Knit It Sheep Kit (Retails for $14.99, still shrink wrapped) = $1.98

Being frugal can be hard, but sometimes it's just plain fun.  All that for $8.93, which includes the 6% sales tax in this county, and let's not forget to mention the thrill of finding stuff for next to nothing.  Combine that with the $22 bucks that I saved on our grocery bill from coupons and sales and you can go ahead and call it a good weekend! 

Of course, my Monday totally and supremely sucked, but what else can you expect from a Monday anyway?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Moving Issues and Sweaters

Yikes!  I just realized that I haven't mentioned yarn or knitting kinda stuff since October.  Wow.  Can you tell that I've had other stuff going on?  My interests are wide and varied and I seem to have the attention span of a flea lately. 

There is a reason that the attention span is so tiny right now.  Remember me telling you about the hubby losing his job?  Well, another has come along.  We're not thrilled about it, but we're going to have to take it.  He has sent out a bazillion resumes and nobody is calling for interviews.  I mean, Atlanta is a big place.  Isn't there somebody hiring around here?  So, the new job.  It's in Raleigh, NC.  He starts in December and will be there by himself for a good while. 

See, we've got numerous things that have to be done to our house before we can sell it, we have rental property to deal with and the kids are still in school.  The housing market still sucks so it looks like we'll end up losing money and then still not be able to get a loan for a new house in NC cause we won't have any cash to roll over into a new house.  Sucks huh?  On top of that, he's not going to be getting paid very much. 

At this point, we're not even sure that we'll be able to survive even with the new job because of the moving issues!  See, I told ya there was a lot on my mind right now!

However, this is a knitting blog and there should occasionally be knitting to look at right?  Here's where the sweater stands at the moment:

I have finished the front and back and I've begun the first sleeve.  I started that while on the school bus rides to and from the Ga Aquarium yesterday.  The kids were so funny about it too.  Is that hard?  Why are you doing that?  Do you take that everywhere you go?  They were so fascinated that someone would be knitting on the bus.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chaperone for a day

I am now officially in need of a good stiff drink.  I chaperoned a field trip at the Eldest's school to the Georgia Aquarium.  While the aquarium is incredibly cool, chaperoning elementary children in a crowded venue is like herding cats.  It was fun though, don't get me wrong, just exhausting.  I got a few good pics to share with you though:
Love how the kids look like shadows here:

I love seeing the alligator like this:


The shark isn't very clear.  It was almost impossible to get a good shot of most of the exhibits.  You're not supposed to use a flash, so most of my pics weren't as nice as they could have been.  

One of these days I'll get around to showing you my knitting again, like tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's Elementary My Dear Watson

The Eldest portrayed Dr. Watson of Sherlock Holmes fame for a presentation at school on mysteries.  It was worth 40% of his grade.  He got a 105!  The costume got him the extra brownie points.  This was a costume that we put together a couple of years ago and he got to use it again.  The bowler hat, moustache and pipe all came from party city.  The coat is a jacket that belongs to his dad, but looks like a trench coat on him.

  Yay Eldest!

In Nanowrimo news, I've had to give it up.  Once again, family and sicknesses have derailed me.  I may try again at around 500 words a day instead of the 1667.  I was managing that amount just fine, but for some reason the 1667 just wasn't doable.  Maybe next year.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Got Tagged!

Abby,over at BittenbyKnittin tagged me for an award! 

Here's the details (as stolen from Abby's blog cause I'm lazy):

The Neno’s Award Rules and Regulations:
1. As a dedication for those who love blogging and love to encourage friendships through blogging.
2. To seek the reasons why we all love blogging.
3. Put the award in one post as soon as you receive it.
4. Don’t forget to mention the person who gives you the award.
5. Answer the award’s question by writing the reason why you love blogging.
6. Tag and distribute the award to as many people as you like.
7. Don’t forget to notify the award receivers and put their links in your post.

Why do I blog?  I began this blog as a place to put my Knitting FO's.   It quickly morphed into a place to put stuff about my boys and then my weird spinning and diy projects.  It's kinda funny, but now I get more hits on diy stuff than what I started out doing.  I guess more people are into makin' and doin' their own stuff now that the economy has gone south.  I love that more people are branching out now and trying new things for their home and hobbies.  Maybe now I won't be the only "weird" one!

Now, it's my turn to tag! 

I'm going to tag Filth Wizardry.  This is a new blog that I've just discovered.  This woman puts me to shame on the stuff that she comes up with for her kids.  I'm especially in love with her hotdog/spaghetti supper that she came up with.  I am so doing this tonight with my kids.

Monday, November 09, 2009

What a Difference!

What a difference some hot glue and beaded trim makes!

Before on the left and After on the right:

Burlap Curtain Project Review:

1.  I did this on a bay window.  It would normally be very simple to do the hardware for the project, just have 3 straight curtain rods and 2 swivel socket connectors.  Put them together and install.  However, Ikea's connector was for a 90 degree angled wall and the angle for my bay windows was not.  Thus, the blow torch that I mentioned in an earlier post.  It would have been much simpler to use a swivel socket connector.  This carries on the tradition of my making every single project I touch much more difficult than it needs to be!

2.  My burlap panels are not going to be closed, they will stay as they are in the pic above.  So I cut the panel in half, approx. 24 inches wide.    If they were to be closed I would have left them at 48 inches wide, but that wasn't necessary for these windows.

3.  No sewing necessary!  I added 9 extra inches to my finished length.  1 inch to be turned under at the bottom for the hem and hot glued and 8 inches to be folded over in the front for a faux valance-y kinda look.  Obviously I do not know the formal name for this type of curtain.  Normally you would put the black part of the trim to the inside of the flap, but I wanted the black trim to echo the black bar above and the knobs on the cabinets.

4.  The panel is hung on the alligator clips attached to the rings.  So, you don't need to sew a pocket for the rod or put in grommets.  Grommets are not my friends.  They don't like me very much.

5.  For the bay window, I did 4 total panels of burlap, which was super cheap.  It was $2.99/yd and I had a 40% off coupon from JoAnn's.  The trim was purchased there as well.  I only used about two yards.  I got this on sale as well.  There are also 4 sheer panels that I found at Big Lots for $5.00 a piece.

Here's how I hung them up:  Panel, sheer, panel, sheer, sheer, panel, sheer, panel.  Or, one panel on each side and one in between each window.

6.  These go down to one inch above the floor.  I wanted a more dramatic look in the breakfast nook than shorter curtains would have given me.

So my breakfast nook is now complete:  (Please ignore studious boy doing homework)

I added new chair cushions and table cloth and it's finally done!  I love all the colors and textures in my kitchen now.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Computer Expert

This so needs to be sent to my Father In Law, I totally cracked up when I saw it.  He's forever having difficulty with computers and calling me and the hubby to fix it:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Nano News

Welcome DragonMount readers!  It's nice to have you visit.  For those that don't know, DragonMount is the official site for Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series.  My book review has been linked to the site and I'm just tickled about it.

In Nanowrimo news:
  • I'm still chugging along and gradually making up the deficit in my word count. 
  • I wrote myself into a wall with my story, mainly because of some of my secondary characters that need to be more prominent.
  • I need help with dialogue.  Seriously, that is not my forte.  I can be descriptive, have great action scenes, but my characters are having a difficult time talking to each other.  I can only hope it gets better as I go along.
I've been using Google Docs to write my story, mainly because I can access it anywhere and because it has a word count.  The word count tool is nice, but I really wish they'd take the stupid readability index off of it.  I realize that this is a first draft and that it will need a crap load of revision, but how depressing is it when you've written something and then check your word count and find that the readability is around the fifth grade level, that the average eleven year old would be able to read it just fine?  

I did get all down about it.  I'm college educated, I should be writing better than this!  What a stupid thing to get all hung up on.  When this happened was around the time that I had written myself into a wall yesterday and that didn't help my sense of humor either.  I took a couple of hours to think about things and then tackled it again.  Story got back on pace and grade level went up.  Much better.

How's everybody else doing on their Nano novel?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Burlap Curtain Progress

The curtains are coming along.  I'm almost finished.  I still need to add the trim and then hot glue my hems down.  I refuse to sew the burlap.  I've already got a mountain of fuzz and lint from it in my dryer, I don't want it in my sewing machine as well.   It already needs a tune up, the last thing it needs is burlap abuse.  Here's how they look currently:

Look at how the sunlight shines through the burlap.  I love the texture it's bringing to the kitchen.  The burlap panels will never be moved.  Only the sheers will open and close.  The burlap is only there for color and texture.  I have a ton of the burlap left over.  I'm planning on using that to make a valance for the window over the sink.   If I get around to it, I'll put the trim on tomorrow and will give you a finished project pic then with details on how I did the whole thing.  This would be a piece of cake if it was just on a straight rod.  I'm already over the whole bay window thing, trust me.

Oh and yes, those are Halloween decorations in November.  Why do you ask?

On the writing front, I'm still about 800 words behind on my goal.  The night's not over yet of course.  I've written  over 1,000 words so far today and I'll have more time to write this evening.  I'm already doing better than I did last year, and I'm only three days into nanowrimo.  Cool!

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Cost of My Curtains

I am now officially a day behind on my nanowrimo challenge.  I had an unexpected guest to spend the night and forgot all about my writing until around 11pm.  I got 923 words out of 1667 written.  I now get to do my regular 1667 for the day plus the deficit from yesterday once the kids finally go to bed tonight.

In other news, I finally got all my curtain stuff straighted out.  Yeah! 

I got all the rods and clips at IKEA.  The rods were $6.99 each and I bought three.  However, I am only using two of them, so I will put the other one away for another window project later.

Here's the cool part about my curtain project.  I bought 10 yards of burlap at JoAnn's yesterday and used a 40% off coupon for it.  It was regular $2.99/yd.  Then, there was a sale for this really pretty beaded trim that normally went for $12.99/yd.  It was also 40% off.  Then, I used two gift cards that had been given to me for my *ahem* anniversary.  Wanna know what the total cost of my kitchen curtains (fabric and trim only) came out to be?

$9.44!  How cool is that?  Add the hardware and it comes to a total of $23.44 for everything!  I'm so excited about this.

At the moment it looks like this:

You wouldn't believe the trouble we've had with the corner connection pieces.  Let's just say that a blow torch was involved, okay?  Oh, and let us not forget to mention the pipe cutter that I learned to use today, very fun.

Here's the mess of clips I still have to deal with.

I'm going to add the clips and sheers tonight if I get a chance.  I will begin working on the burlap part tomorrow sometime.

For now, here's a pic of the Jack 'O Lantern that I carved out on Saturday:

Ooh, Scary!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween from Our House!

Happy Cold, Wet Halloween from Zorro and the Pirate!

Pirate Action Shot

Friday, October 30, 2009

Does this happen at anyone else's house?

There's a young boy child that's racing around the house, buck naked and holding his underwear in his little hands.  He's running and yelling "I'm naked!" as fast as he can while giggling maniacally.  Of course, his elder brother is mortified at this behavior and telling him to stop running around naked, which just encourages the little rascal more.  His father and I are just sitting here watching the show.  Does this happen to anyone else?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Review - The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan

I was devastated in 2007 when I heard of the death of one of my favorite authors, Robert Jordan.  He was a superb storyteller who created a work of fantasy that was unlike any other.  His death brought mild panic to my world.  It looked like The Wheel of Time books would have no ending, would leave us readers hanging off the cliff on a rope with no one to pull us up.

I was also aghast that Jordan's wife and manager would pick a relatively unknown author to pick up the storyline and continue it.  Who was this Brandon Sanderson anyway?  I decided to go read his previous works, looking for clues to how his writing style would stand up to Jordan's.  And ya know what?  I wasn't disappointed.  Elantris and his Mistborn series of books were fantastic.  Heavy in detail, magic and politics that for me, are the essentials in good fantasy stories.

Two days ago, The Gathering Storm arrived on my doorstep.  I've spent the majority of those two days reading.  I've neglected everything in my life shamelessly, devoting every second of my day to reading 800 pages.  I finished it, very late last night.  The verdict?

It was everything that I could have wished for in a Robert Jordan novel, and more.  Sanderson has managed to tie his and Jordan's writing together seamlessly.  It was an incredible read.

There are two main story arcs in this book, concentrating on Rand and Egwene.  Perrin and Matt are there briefly, but just barely.  The story line with Rand tends to be quite dark, and the character must deal with having incredible power and unbearable duty.  There's only so much that one person can bear in his lifetime and we get to see if Rand can hold it together long enough to make it to the final battle.  The story line dealing with Egwene however, is much more fun and enjoyable.  She's already fought her demons in previous books and now gets to act, trying to reunite the White Tower's various mule-headed and power hungry factions.

If you are into Perrin and Matt and Elaine, well, you're going to have to wait for the next couple of books.  Yes, there will be two more.  The amount of loose ends that Sanderson must tie up is staggering and will take a while to deal with.  In my opinon, Sanderson is handling that quite well.  Already a few of the questions that have been lying out there have already been answered and I look forward to finding out more.

I'll avoid going into more detail, I don't want to ruin the book for anyone out there that hasn't read it.  I will say this however.  If you have been worried about the 12th book in the series, don't be.  It's that good.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Not One Knit Stitch, but Lot's of Spinning

I took this past weekend off from knitting.  I didn't knit a single stitch.  Not one.    I did, however, do something I haven't done in months:  Spinning!

I have a pile of batts that I have put off and put off some more, mainly because when I did a test sample, the finished product felt like rope, not pretty fluffy yarn.  The culprit in the mix of fibers that's causing the problem is some Corriedale that I knew I shouldn't use and did it anyway.  I thought it would work if it was mixed with some alpaca and faux cashmere.  Nope, didn't work.  This stuff has been staring at me for MONTHS.  I became depressed and just couldn't look at it anymore.  I stored it away in some boxes in a corner under lots of other boxes just hoping that it would change it's mind and become more cooperative, but it didn't.

Until, that is, I had an epiphany on Saturday.  If it wasn't working in a three ply worsted, maybe it was because I had too much twist and it was way too small of a gauge.  So I broke out the spinning wheel  and approached the batts from a different point of view, after I caused an avalanche of boxes, naturally.

The collective "They" say that it's harder to learn to spin big, fat yarn after you have learned to consistently make thin plies of yarn.  Maybe I've been away from it long enough that wasn't an issue.  I did have a harder time keeping in slubs though.  I decided to try for a super bulky art yarn.  This is what I actually got:

More super bulky, less art yarn, but I like it anyway.  The yarn pictured above is approximately 390 yards worth.  I still have a bazillion batts to spin up, but it goes really quick like this.  I've been perusing Ravelry for sweaters that have this gauge yarn and I've found a couple that I might like.

So did spinning it at a larger and looser gauge work?  Yep.  It's much, much softer.  I'm going to keep it as a single ply too.  That way I'll get more yardage that I can work with and it won't lose that softness that I craved when I created these batts.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Anniversary To Me!

Today's a big day around here.  It's the first anniversary of my 39th birthday!   Woohoo!

At this point in my life, I have decreed that there will be no further birthdays, just anniversaries.  I am stopping at 39.  I want my (eventual) obituary to read something like "Shea, passed away today.  She had just celebrated the 51st anniversary of her 39th birthday."

Yep, that's what it's going to say.  I plan on being in total denial for the rest of my life. And, barring something totally catastrophic, it could very well say that.  I have grandparents and other ancestors that lived well into their late 90's!  So, that means I haven't even hit the halfway point yet.  That deserves a big Woohoo! in my book.  :)

Just wait until you see what my boys picked out for me for my birt  anniversary!  We have a tradition around here of letting the boys pick out the gifts for people.  It's way more entertaining that way.  One year, for mother's day, the Eldest picked out these plates that had a summer Hawaiian theme.  He gave me a hint that he had gotten me some "Mexican eatin' thingies."  It's been an endless source of amusement for my mother.

Today's gift was just about as good.  I got a six pack of Snickers candy bars and these lovely skull and cross bone orange-black-gray argyle slippers:

I've been wearing them over my green Wicked socks that my Sis In Law gave me for my "anniversary".  She's in denial too.  She just celebrated the same "anniversary" as me, just 25 days sooner, which makes her older than me.  Ha!

But don't they look lovely together?

Edited to add:  When I wrote this earlier today, in my little obit section I put 49th instead of 39th.  Gee, senility sets in early when you hit the big 39 + 1, doesn't it?