Monday, November 26, 2012

Historical Fiction Update

I barely read over Thanksgiving break but I did finish reading A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson.

I love watching Downton Abbey and this book was recommended to me because the setting is very similar to the show, the English countryside at a manor after WWI.

Apparently the late teens and 1920s in England was a crazy time. End of the first World War and the end of the Russian empire probably would do that.  It just seems that the people were extra crazy and had fantastical ideas. Maybe people will think that about us when historical fiction is written about our time period.  I try not to be too judgy.

A Countess Below Stairs is about Anna, a countess, that fled Russia, with her family, to be penniless in England.  She goes into service as a maid.  She meets the Earl and they fall in love even though he is to marry someone else, a very horrible someone else.  Crazy hi-jinxes ensue on the wedding day. It was pretty predictabl,e but very enjoyable.  A bit long winded, but the details were nice.

4/5 stars

I highly recommend this one for other fellow lovers of Downton Abbey.

I have now read 4 of 5 Historical Fiction books for my 2012 challenge.  What should I read next?  I have five weeks to get it read.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Shopping

My family loves to shop and we love a good deal so we love Black Friday shopping.  This year is different though.  My grandmother is in the hospital and  my parents went up to South Dakota to see her.  (She had a really bad prognosis, but now is doing better and will survive.)  My mom is the glue that holds Black Friday shopping together for my sister and me.  Without her, is it just not he same.

My sister and I did manage to go out Thursday night before my sister had to go to work at 10 PM.  My mother-in-law came too.  I got a few things for D and something very special for me....

All three seasons of The Vampire Diaries!!!!! I am so, so happy.  I love this show.  I have to wait another week for the next new episode.  It is torture.  Season 4 is amazing.

This morning, the actual Black Friday, my husband and father-in-law are out shopping and I am home (well not my home, my in-law's home) with the little girl and dogs.

I am excited for Small Business Saturday tomorrow.  I am going to a yarn store in Bettendorf, IA called Knit & Knot to buy some yarn for a sweater. (I wish I could shop The Fiber Universe, but we will not be in Peoria.)

I am going to make this...
Rocky Coast Cardigan 

It is from the book Coastal Knits.  I love Hannah Fettig; she designs great things.  She was the designer of my first sweater, the Yoked Cardigan. Two other knitters I know have made it and it looks pretty fabulous in-person.  Not sure when I will actually get to the knitting of this cardigan, but it is good to be prepared.

What are you shopping for?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I remade the Calorimetry...

It is so much better is time around.  Last time, not so good. Plus, I think I figured out why my knitting was so loose; it was my tension.  I am now holding my tension differently and things are working much better.  I still don't know why my swatches and finished projects didn't match up, but I don't think that will be a problem with my new tension holding.  I can't even say it is a new way of holding my tension.  I used to always hold my yarn that way but them migrated to the loosey-goosey way.  Well I am back and it is great.  I re-knit on the same size needles with the new/old tension way and it turned out pretty great.

I loved using the Malabrigo Worsted yarn.  Such heavenly stuff to work with.  It didn't even get tangly or weird being re-knit. 5 star yarn!

This will be going to a lovely person for Christmas.  I hope they love it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

New Adventures

We had a great weekend.  We had nothing planned.  No one was coming to visit.  Just a weekend.

My husband decided it was time he cleaned out all his old teaching stuff from the attic.  You know, since he hasn't been a teacher since we moved to Peoria and never wants to be a teacher ever again.  We now have lots of space in the attic for...more junk?

He also decided it as time to clean out D's room and rearrange it for her new bed.

He made her this bed last month.

I am not the only crafty one in this family.

The problem with this bed is that it takes up a lot of room.  We need to figure out how to get her dresser and bookshelves back in.  Oh and all the toys.  So many, many toys.  This girl may be spoiled.

Besides all this hard work, I got tons of knitting done and finished several Christmas gifts. 

Today, I am off work again because I had to take D to the hospital for an out-patient procedure.  They needed to test her pooping muscles and see if she had anything wrong that is causing her constipation woes. 

Luckily, the test went well and there is nothing physically wrong with her, she just uses her muscles wrong and so can not fully void her bowels.  She will need physical therapy but she should get better.  I am so thankful she will get better without surgery.

Because today is a special day, D dressed herself.

She does have a very unique sense of style.  All the hospital staff loved it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

New Yarn

I finally got around to spinning another yarn. 

This is 112 yards of 100% Merino Superwash in a nice pretty brown.

I tried to ply this one tighter than my previous yarns and I think I did better.  This is my 6th yarn.  I still need a lot more practice and probably some lessons (Hint: Christmas gift idea!!)

So what should I make it into?  I have yet to make any of my handspun into any finished object.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Loose Knitter

Recently I developed a problem, I knit a bit too loosely.  I am not sure how it came to this.  I used to knit near to gauge or down just one needle size.  Then over the past summer, it was two needle sizes.  Now this fall, going down two needle sizes is not enough.

This is Calorimetry, an ear warmer pattern.

Image by Kathryn Schoendorf on Raverly

Great pattern, super easy to remember the turns and count.  No stupid flower on top.

I used the best yarn ever.  New to The Fiber Universe last week was Malabrigo Worsted!!! This might be my new favorite yarn.  Gorgeous colorways and so soft.

This is Stonechat.  I got another color of the Malabrigo Worsted for another project.  I can barely wait to start.

I finished and then realized that normal people don't have the size head required for this thing.  Maybe Stewie Griffin or some other fictional character.

I went down two needle sizes. I swatched.  And yet, huge ear warmer.  Not suitable for a Christmas gift, as I had hoped.

So I frogged it. I am pretty proud of myself for frogging it (or ripping it all our to the layperson.)  It takes a lot to get to the point in your knitting journey to get to where you will just rip out hours and hours of work instead of rationalizing that the item is fine (when it is obviously not).  It is now a ball of wool waiting for me to try again.

I need to figure out this loose knitting problem.  The socks I spent much of this year knitting and then hiding away only to knit again, also turned out to be a bit loose even through I swatched.  The swatches are lying to me!!! Or maybe I can't count right.  I might need to start holding the tension in my yarn differntly.  Or maybe I am doomed to keep going down and down in needle size.

Any suggestions?

Monday, November 12, 2012


I ran a 5k on Saturday.  It was nice to only run 3 miles, but I was also stressed because this race was on "home" turf.  My employer held their first race, Run 101 with 5k and 15k options.  I knew a lot of people at this race. In fact, I knew a majority of  the runners, and I wanted to beat them.

I placed 3rd in my age group and 27th overall!  I thought I would place because of the small number of runners, but I wasn't sure.  It feels pretty good to be 3rd best in 20-29 y/o females.

I barely had time to get home and shower after the race before my in-laws showed up.  They came to take down a dead tree in our backyard and to haul the wood away.  I am so thankful for their visit!  (Especially since on Sunday it was so windy the tree could have lost more branches and caused some major damage on our house or out neighbor's.)

While everyone was hard at work with the tree,  I got to sneak away to my favorite store, The Fiber Universe.  It was their 1 year anniversary.  I had to celebrate with a bit of shopping and knitting.

I have good knitted things to show you later this week!

What did you do this weekend?

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I have two rumbles going on.

1. The daylight savings time change has me all messed up.  I am hungry and sleepy at all the wrong times.  I know I have gone through this time change business twice a year for the past 29 years, but it still messes with my internal time clock, I think more than my daughter's.  She seems to be fine and on a good schedule.  I, however, seem to have a perpetual "rumbly in my tumbly". I now better understand Pooh and his plight to get honey in an attempt satiate his rumbly.  I often feel as though a bee hive wouldn't stop me.

2. Election day was on Tuesday.  I voted early so, I didn't have to wait in line or worry about making it to the polls on time.  It was my first time voting in Illinois, and for the first time I knew that my presidential vote would be for the same person as the state's electoral votes.  My past two votes for president have been located in Iowa (swing state and in 2004 swung the way of not-my-vote) and in Tennessee (not a swing state, always the way of not-my-vote).  2012 was different for me, the media "called" Illinois  for President Obama with 0% of the precincts reporting.  A few hours later, President Obama was named the winner of the election.  This is causing quite the rumble.  I know a lot of people happy and unhappy with this outcome.  Personally, I am very happy, which should not be shocking to my friends and family.  What is shocking is the horrible stuff being passed around on blogs, talk radio and social media.  People saying things and really hurting other's feelings.  It is just not right.  It is more vicious than ever.  This is coming from a lady who owns a "the only bush I trust is my own" t-shirt. (That was just plain funny and a bit oppositional.)  It was a hard fought election and very emotional on all sides.  Discussion and arguments over politics is fine, but it needs to be done respectfully.  Something I think we have all forgotten.  Something everyone needs to work on.

I am really proud of America and the amazing new senators and representatives at the state and national level. (And that a local library bond finally passed!)  I am happy that in a country where women make up half of the population, we can have more female congresspersons.  The diversity of the newly-elected officials is something to celebrate: openly gay, disabled, Hindu, Buddhist, Asian-American, etc.  When there are more representatives like this, I feel that our country's government is better because it actually represents the amazing diversity throughout the nation.  A representational government should represent the population.

I am also excited that four states voted for marriage equality.  I know this is another hotly contested issue.  I personally think that all Americans have the right to marry another person.  In Tennessee in 2006, I voted No on a constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.  It passed anyway by a large majority. I am glad to see, 6 years later, people and states are saying no to banning gay marriage.   I again hope that Americans can be civil toward one another and accept other people's convictions on this matter.  Diversity is something that makes America so great.  We are united in our diversity.

Now that the election is over, it is time to move forward with the future of our country.  It is time to get along with each other and not fight...for a least a few years.....

If you read this and agree or disagree, please leave respectful comments. I usually don't get a lot of comments and they are always very nice, but when talking politics, you never know.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Money is one of those impolite topics to discuss, but I am am going to discuss it.  Today, we paid off the balance on our credit card!!!!  It has been a long, long road.  I never thought we would have credit card debt.  We were married for four-and-a -half years without credit card debt so, I really did not see why we would ever need to carry a balance, until I got this job, three years ago this month.

Now getting a job you would think would be the opposite of going into credit card debt, but not for us.  Me getting this job meant paying for us to quickly move to another state, paying rent at an apartment and the mortgage on our house in Nashville, my husband unemployed without unemployment benefits, and my education loans coming out of deferment. D was 18 months old and we had to pay for diapers and tons of clothes as she seems to be growing much faster than an average child. Oh and both our cars needed repairs.

About 6 months after moving to Peoria, my husband got a job, low-paying compared to his job before  but a job.  We also sold our house in Nashville, but lost all of our equity, our savings, and had to borrow $6000 from my parents to sell it.  At least we didn't have the mortgage to pay anymore.

We started to recover, but those months left us with credit card debt.  People told us, you are young, you'll recover.  But it didn't feel that way.

Three years later, we finally paid off the credit card balance!!!!  We still owe money to both of our parents, but we are making monthly payments and have made a good dent in the total that we owe them. Plus they don't charge interest or change our credit score.

I am so thankful that I had good credit and could have a credit card to help us out through a very difficult time in our lives.  I am now so thankful that the debt is gone.