Thursday, May 31, 2012

Midway with Mindful Steps

I cast on these socks in March, did a few rows of ribbing for the cuffs and then left them alone until last Thusday's knit night at The Fiber Universe.  Having just finished my entrelac scarf a few days before, I did not have anything else on the needles.  I have lots of thing I want to start, but I was in a hurry go get going so, I grabbed the socks.  I am glad I did because I am really enjoying them.

The pattern is Mindful Steps available on Knit Picks.  I am using Cascade Yarns Heritage sock yarn.  I love the blue-green color.  I have been buying a lot of things with this color in it lately.  The photo really does not do the color justice.  I really need to sharpen my yarn photography skills.  Maybe I can get my husband to make me a light box.  I can hope.

I am making these socks two-at-a-time.  This is only my second time with this technique and first time on socks (well they are only my second pair of socks).  If you ever plan on making matching round objects, I highly recommend you try this method.  I love it.

I am really enjoying the construction of these socks. There is this fun, little two-stitch cable that really adds interest.  I only have another inch to knit before I start turning the heel.

I have three more projects I want to get started soon.

Sojourn Falls Scarf

 (image Ravelry)

Yoked Cardigan

(images Ravelry)
I am going to make one for me and one for D.
and last but not least

Huggable Hedgehog

 (image Ravelry)

 I have the yarn, pattern and needles to make them.

Which do you think I should make first?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lock and Key

Over the weekend I was fortunate to read:

(image Goodreads)

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen.

Abandoned by her mother, Ruby has to go live with her older sister, Cora, who left for college and never came back.  Ruby has had no contact with her sister in 10 years.  Now Ruby, who never wanted to rely on anyone, has to learn to make friends in a posh new neighborhood and school and live with her new family.

This is not my favorite Sarah Dessen novel, but it is still pretty good.  I did read is in a matter of a two days on my Sony eReader. In general, I love Sarah Dessen novels. She writes sweet coming-of-age stories with a bit of romance.  (I mean most coming-of-age stories have some love interest so I am not sure if that really defines her.)  Dessen's style is to have a female protagonist with a "tragic" past.  The tragedy may be a dead parent, abandoned (as in Lock and Key), divorced parents or the like.  The point is: home life was not great for the protagonist.   But in the story she learns to cope with her feelings and overcomes obstacles and usually finds really great friends and a guy to crush on.  I love these books.  They are just feel good books.  I know in the end everything will turn out alright and sometimes I just need a story where everything turns out alright, even if this is not so true to real life.

I want to read every book she has ever written.

Her bibliography includes:

That Summer
Someone Like You
Keeping the Moon 

This Lullaby
The Truth About Forever (Read-My favorite!!!)
Just Listen
Lock and Key
Along for the Ride (Read)
What Happened to Goodbye

So I am about half way to reading all of them!  I also need to see the movie How to Deal because it is based on Someone Like You and That Summer.  Of course, I'll have to read the books first.

Who is the author that you want to read everything they have ever published?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


It is Tuesday, already?  I guess my long weekend went by too fast. I had a great time with family over the weekend and we even got a project of two accomplished around the house, plus lots of knitting and reading.

But the big news today is: my daughter is in pre-k!  Yup, D moved to the pre-k room this morning.  She is 4 years old after all.

This does not help with my "feeling old" situation.

 She just moved next door from her former room, but psychologically, it is a big jump for me.   I mean she is a pre-k kid. I am the mother of a preschooler not a toddler or baby.

I wish we had state funded pre-k here, but that is mostly because I am cheap and don't want to pay day care.  I am very happy with her school and all that she is learning and that is the most important thing.  

Next important lesson : teaching her to smile and pose for the camera so she doesn't look like she is in pain.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Another Dishcloth Set

I belong to this site called Whoopdwhoop where crafters can swap their crafts for whoops (like a point system) to get other people's crafts.  It is just a fun little thing I do.

This past week I have been working on making 4 dishcloths for a Whoopdwhoop swap.  I used one of my favorite patterns, Not Your Average Washcloth by  Elizabeth Prusiewicz and it is in the book, 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders.

The order requested black which is not the best color to photograph. 

As for my birthday yesterday, I had a good time.  My parents, brother and his family all drove 110 miles just to have dinner with me and return back to their homes.  My lovely husband and daughter got me chairs and a little table for the back yard patio.  We ate DQ ice cream cake.  I feel pretty special. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Last Birthday

Today is the day, my last birthday because ladies stay 29 forever, right?

I have mixed feelings about this 29th year, probably similar feelings to what I felt when I turned 19, my last year in this decade of my life.  I feel young and old at the same time.

No matter how I feel about today, I know I have big plans for this year because 30 is going to be great and I have a whole year to build for it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Entrelac Completed

Over the weekend, I got a new Netflix addiction: The Vampire Diaries.  I have always wanted to watch this show, but I don't normally watch CW shows.  I am not sure why I don't watch the CW because it is right up my YA-loving alley.  Plus, this series is based on a YA book series, as are Gossip Girls and Pretty Little Liars, both on the CW. I should probably be watching all these shows.  Maybe I should read the books, too...

Anyway, due to this new obsession, I had time to knit pretty fiercely at the entrelac scarf.


I followed the Entrelac Scarf Tutorial by KnittyOtter

is Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock in Bryne.

I started this "little" project on March 3rd so I am glad that I am finally finished.  But, now what do I knit next?

Friday, May 18, 2012

On Being Dauntless

I love dystopian fiction.  Lucky for me, it us the hot, new sub-genre in Young Adult literature.  I guess the rampant success of The Hunger Games will do that. And I am so very glad it did.

The big talk lately is about the Divergent series.

First time author, Veronica Roth (and recent college graduate) wrote a New York Times Best-Selling novel.  I could never be a creative writer and I can't help but be jealous of her amazing creativity.

I read Divergent in a 2-3 day time period. I read Insurgent, the sequel/second book in the series, the very next day. The whole book, all 525 pages.

This story follows the life of Beatrice Prior.  Beatrice, or Tris as she is later called, lives in a society were at the age of 16 you go to a choosing ceremony to decide what fraction you will live with.  There are 5 factions that each have a certain way of living based on their philosophy.  Amity values non-violence. Abnegation treasures selflessness.  Candor are truth-tellers, at all costs.  Edurites are scholars. Dauntless are brave and courageous and hate cowardice. Tris has to decide to stay with her parents in Abnegation or leave them forever to follow another faction.  Where do her loyalties lie?  Her one choice will change her future forever (hint: and everyone else's future) and her decision is difficult because she doesn't really fall into any fraction.  (Guess what she picks?  See my blog post title.)

This highest praise I can give a series is to not hate the middle book of a trilogy.  I usually find the middle to be boring with too much back story and not enough action or something like that.  Insurgent delivers.  I so loved it.

Some claim this series to be the next Hunger Games and I hope it does reach that level of popularity,.  The rights have been sold to make a movie, but lots of books get optioned and never get made.  I definitely think my various book clubs should read it.  Everyone should read it.

I am even purchasing new personal copies.  This is a big deal.  I tend to only buy books used or read library books (and I still own a ton of books).  I did read both these books from libraries copies, but I just want to own them too (then I can make my family and friends read them so we can discuss).  The last series I did this with was The Hunger Games.

Divergent #3 is scheduled to come out Fall 2013 (Veronica Roth calls it "Detergent" because she can't reveal the real name yet.).  That means D will be in Kindergarten before I find out what happens.  But, the wait will make it all the sweeter, right?

What are you waiting on reading?

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Last Saturday I went with my family to the Home Depot to get plants and flowers for landscaping our house.  I usually don't go to Home Depot because to get there, I pass several other home improvement stores. I usually go to the closest store (Lowe's).  However, I was motivated to get out to Home Depot because I won a $50 gift certificate from Decor and the Dog. Thanks!!!

We got two new flower pots for the front steps.

Since the steps are mostly shaded by our tree, we went with inpatients and this pretty purple and green thing (I have the name of it somewhere, just not sure where).

I may have overestimates the number of plants I needed for this small of a pot.  We'll see how they grow. This is a learning experience.

For the front bed, also so very shady, we went with hostas and lilyturf.

I have tried to get other things to grow in the front bed, but it is just too shady.  I think these will do just fine.
In the back,  I added some Miracle Grow dirt and put my farmer's market seedlings in the ground.  The seedlings have been on my kitchen windowsill for a few weeks now.  It was nice to get them in the garden.  It is not a very big space to grow plants; I have just enough room for 6 plants.  I planted 2 tomato plants (the variety escapes me, but I don't care too much because I am allergic to them), 2 green pepper and 2 cucumber.

I am not very good a growing food so, this is really all I can handle right now.  We do have near-future plans to put in a raised bed garden on the side yard for more veggies.  That will be a definite learning experience.  I might need to read a few books.

What are you growing?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


So in May of 1996, my parents asked me what I wanted for my 13th birthday.  Okay, so maybe they didn't ask, but I was sure telling them what I wanted for my birthday.  The only thing I wanted for my birthday was a giant trampoline.  A giant trampoline was so cool.  I knew a few people that had them and then every time we went into Sam's Club there was one hanging from the ceiling calling to me: Michelle, I am so much fun; insistently ask you parents for me.

My 13th birthday came and no giant trampoline or anything else.  Since I gave no other suggestions for birthday presents and they were not going to buy me the giant trampoline, I got nothing.  On top of that disappointment, my mom and sister were actually out-of-town fro my birthday at my cousin's wedding in North Dakota.   I did end up getting socks and a lava lamp once my mom and sister returned from the wedding, but it was a still a hard lesson.

Move forward to 2012.  My brother and his family live with my parents and my mom decides to get my niece and nephew a combined birthday present of .....

a giant trampoline.

Mom says she bought it because she wants the kids to get outside and exercise instead of playing video games.  She also says that they are so much safer now then in 1996 (and she is right on that point...there were no cage-like sides in 1996).

Still, I am a bit miffed.

D sure seems to love it and so does my dad and nephew.

My birthday is one week away.  It is my last twenties birthday and I am not sure what to ask for but I definitely won't be asking for a giant trampoline.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Happy 6th Birthday to my little dog, Kelly.

Kelly came to us from one of my husband's middle school students.  She had a dog having puppies, she had to find homes for them.  We took one and my dear friend Liz took another.  His name is Toby.

Kelly is a funny dog.  Her looks are confusing.  She is very cute to some and ugly to others.  Her mother was a peekapoo and her father a chihuahua.  Liz calls the pups Peekachus (like the Pokemon Pikachu).

Kelly, though despite her dainty looks, is a dirty dog.  She likes to roll around in the grass (and other things) and get dirty.   She hates to be clean, but she loves to snuggle with you on the couch or in your bed so she does need to be clean.  Such a tough life.

She is also the attack dog.  Our other dog, Claire, mostly barks because Kelly barks.  Kelly has fought her brother Toby over food and drawn blood.  She also makes the funniest growls. She sounds like a gremlin.

But for all her faults and her strengths, Kelly is our little dog and we love her. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dilemma Solved

On Friday, I had a reading dilemma with three books to read.  Well, it wasn't much of a dilemma because I inhaled City of Lost Souls.

I stayed up late reading on Friday...maybe too late since Saturday morning came very early and I had to get a 6 mile run in.  Oh well, totally worth it!!!

I think Cassandra Clare puts crack in her books because I am so addicted.  Everything she writes, I read immediately.  I guess I am just a sucker for the Shadowhunter world.

This book is #5 in The Mortal Instruments Series. Originally, The Mortal Instruments was a trilogy, but Clare decided to expand it to a six book series.   Number four, the City of Fallen Angels, was definitely my least favorite in the series so I was wondering if it was a bad idea to expand the trilogy.  Well, this book totally redeemed the extension.  It was great and had lots of twists and turns.  Clary, out heroine, shows why she totally kicks butt.  She is not some meek girl in love with the hot Shadowhunter (Oh, Jace), but she too is a Shadowhunter (though less trained) and brave and loyal.  Yes, a lot of what she does is motivated by her love for Jace and their relationship, but she is also strongly motivated by her friends, family and personal ethics.

I highly recommend the series to anyone who loves a bit of fantasy or paranormal.  Everyone I have loaned my copies to has loved them.  It is not just a paranormal romance, it is so much more with the fighting of demons and other bad guys.  I feel I have to defend all paranormal books from the Twilight comparison and these books would appeal to Twilight readers, but they have a much better premise and story line.

4/5 stars on Goodreads.

Now I am reading both A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly and Divergent by Veronica Roth simultaneously.  However, I think Divergent wins out, dystopian fiction always wins for me.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Reading Dilemma

So I started reading:
I finally started my first historical fiction YA book.  I pledged to read 5 this year so, I really need to start cracking.

But then, this came in inter-library loan for me:
Divergent is apparently amazing.  I have heard nothing but amazing things about it.  Plus, the next book in the series just came out so there is a ton of buzz.  Have you read it?

Then I got this ebook:

This is book #5 in The Mortal Instruments series.  I love this series, but for the cover....Jace is 9 inches taller than Clary.

So many choices.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and so I decided to make D's teachers a little something.

These are the Flower Cloths by KrisKnits

This is the pansy...

And this is the sunflower...

I have been making KrisKnits dishcloths for a while but I can never get them to turn out a nice as the pictures of the patterns she sells (I even follow her special blocking instructions).  I can barely tell that is a sunflower.  In fact, I cannot tell it at all.  Still, it will do it's job and clean dishes and counter and whatnot.

I only had a few days notice that it is Teacher Appreciation Week so, I only got two cloths made for D's two main teachers.  I would like to make one for each teacher at the child care center (6 more).  Maybe I will just make them throughout the coming weeks and surprise them.

What are you doing for Teacher Appreciation Week?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Running in the Genes

Illinois Valley Striders, the area running club, sponsors a youth series of running every Monday in May and June.  I wanted to take D last year, but never got around to it.

Last night, I took my daughter to her first timed race. 

She did very well.  She ran the entire 1/4 mile in 2:55.  That is not too bad for a girl who claims she can't walk and needs to be carried all the time.  And she didn't cry, unlike her first race last summer (un-timed) and several of the other kids at this race.

She was pretty proud of herself too.  She said she will run again next week and she will try to run without me holding her hand.
We'll see how that goes next week.  For now, I am just proud of my little runner.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Beauty Queens

My book club finally chose a book from my favorite genre.

Libba Bray is a pretty well know author in the YA world.  She won the Printz a few years back.  This is her latest book Beauty Queens.

The premise is that a plane, carrying beauty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream competition, crashes into a tropical island. Now the beauty queens have to rely on intellect and not their looks to survive.

I did enjoy reading this book.  All the beauty queens were very interesting people and all very different. One  a lesbian, one transgendered, one an undercover journalist, you get the picture.

This book is full of social satire and I like that in a book, especially a book where teens are the main audience.  It does deliver good lessons in being who you are and not giving in to social pressures to be pretty and perfect all the time.

The ending of this book is well weird.   Lots of things happen really fast that are really unbelievability crazy. The epilogue is like a movie ending where there is a big ending scene and all the main characters are together and there are subtitles telling you what happens to the person in the future. You know the "So and So goes on to teach English in China or whatever" statements.  That kind of threw me.  I was not expecting that in a book, but it does fit the comedy feel of this book.

As a fiend of mine pointed out: Libba Bray thinks she is funnier than really she is.  Only she is a proper English teacher and wouldn't end her sentence in a preposition.  I agree that Libba Bray definitely thinks she is funny and the book is funny.  I did laugh, but not to the degree I think the author wanted me to laugh.

My book club thought it was pretty weird too.  I think if you read it and think of the characters in a crazy Nickelodeon sitcom, like That's so Raven, it is pretty good. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Green Cleaning

Since the birth of my daughter, I have been trying hard to clean "green".  There are just so many chemicals in cleaners and I thought it best to keep her away from them.  I started cleaning with vinegar and other concoctions.  They all worked fine, but I thought that I would try something different. I was unhappy with they way vinegar was cleaning my windows and mirrors so I was on the look out for something new to try. At the Peoria Earth Day celebration, I met a Shaklee representative.  I had heard of their Basic H cleaner before and I was interested in getting some to try it out. 

Basic H is a concentrated organic cleaner and one of the first biodegradable cleaners.  Just a few drops in a spray bottle is all you need to get cleaning.

I decided to try it as a window cleaner, all-purpose cleaner and degreaser.

I went to work on my kitchen, I especially like to keep chemicals at bay in the kitchen. The degreaser got all that yucky stuff of my stove.  It cleaned my mirrors and windows better than vinegar.  The all-purpose cleaner cleaned my counters and cabinets wonderfully (whoever thought white kitchen counters and cabinets was a good idea was certifiably crazy!!!!)  I am very happy with my purchase.  This set of the cleaner and bottles cost me $20.  I know that sounds like a lot for cleaner, but since it is concentrated and versatile it goes a long way.  I filled the three bottles and barely used any of the Basic H concentrate.

Shaklee and/or Basic H did not ask me to write this or sponsor this post.  I just wanted to give my opinion and let other know what I was up to with green cleaning.

This is my referral link if you are interested in getting this yourself:

How do you clean?  Any tips?

Oh and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my little brother, Buster.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wingspan, again

I have some knitting goals for the year.  I seem to base my life off of goals.  I guess I am just a goal orientated person.  Anyway, my local yarn store created a series of  challenges and I am going to complete those challenges.  To complete the challenges I have to make 9 different projects or 9 different techniques from assigned categories.  I am making new items I would have never made before which, I guess, is what a challenge is all about. 

My new favorite project is the shawl.  I don't know anyone who wears shawls, but there are some great and beautiful knitting patterns for shawls.

This is my Wingspan

The pattern uses short rows to make the triangles. (This project counts for a shawl and short rows in the challenges. I love double dipping!)  It looks complicated, but it is so easy.  I had the pattern memorized immediately.  I didn't even need to use stitch markers.

I loved the yarn too.  It is Rhythm by Jojoland in Aquarius.  It is a very nice yarn to work with and the color change is pretty amazing.  It is superwash wool so, it has less problems with washing than regular 100% wool since it can be machine washed.

This is the second Wingspan I have made.  My first one turned out more like a small scarf or neckerchief.  I made some adjustments and this one came out just right.  I may have to make this shawl again and again, maybe with sock yarn (you know how I suddenly love knitting big things with small yarn and tiny needles).

This project has brought me in to the realm of shawl knitting.  I already love knitting scarves so, this was an easy jump.  I am now finding so many great shawl patterns (including this TARDIS one).  They call me like a siren.  But now, who will wear these shawls?  I don't know anyone who does.  Maybe I need to start wearing shawls to complete the librarian look? This is the perfect case for me to start selling items because, I want to make them, but not wear them. (Okay, so I would wear the TARDIS shawl, I mean who wouldn't.)  

What are your feelings on shawls?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Llama Llama Loves This Mama

Over the weekend The Fiber Universe held a "Meet Your Fiber" day.  Basically it was a field trip to a llama farm to see the animals that produce the lovely fur/fleece that spinners turn into fabulous yarn. D was so excited.  She talked about it all week.

"Is today the llama farm day?"

"No honey, but soon,"

So on Sunday, I drove us out to the Lewis Llama Farm near the airport in Peoria. Not two blocks from our house, it started to sprinkle.  I had backed mittens, hats and a blanket. I had D in her winter coat.  I packed chairs, juice boxes and snacks.  Oh and my knitting was packed of course.  But, I forgot about the rain chance.  So it rained harder as we drove on. D had been looking forward to this all week and I figured I would give it my best try.

Luckily, I was not the only one that thought seeing a llama farm in the rain wouldn't be too bad and there was a good turn-out of knitters and their families.

Some of the llamas and alpacas (I can't tell the difference really, but apparently they are different) were scared of the crowd so, they decided to stand out in the rain. Others were a bit more friendly.

D loved the llamas (and alpacas).

I bought some llama yarn so that I can make myself some mittens.  I have never made myself mittens.

Do you love your llama?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

Happy May Day!  I can't believe it it May.  It is my favorite month because of my birthday, the flowers, the weather and school getting out. It is just a great month in general.

I haven't made jewelry in months (January, maybe?) so, for my neighbor's birthday, I decided to get some beads and make an earring and bracelet set.  This is my go-to set. I love to make a set and this is the most economical way because I can usually make a bracelet and matching earrings from the one strand of beads I buy. (And I only buy beads on sale or with a coupon.)  I can't recall ever making a beaded necklace, maybe I should try that next.

I buy my beads at area craft stores.  These came from Joann's, part of my awesome Friday night outing.  I also buy from Michael's and Hobby Lobby. I go where the sale is.  Some day I would like to buy fancy beads and findings at the bead store and online, but for now I am content.

When I got out my beading supplies, I realized that I have a lot of beads that I have not made into anything, yet.  I really need to start making some jewelry (maybe when a little 4year-old is not trying to help).  I am thinking of selling some of my jewelry at the farmer's market this summer, but this goes back to my feelings that things I make are not something someone would pay for.  However, I think I am willing to give it a try.

Do you love May?  What are you looking forward to this month?