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Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Look! My first 5K.

This photo is part of Sweet Shot Tuesday. I chose it because it is meaningful to me. I've started to take more risks in 2010 -- trying new experiences with my family, blogging about more personal things, challenging myself in new ways (such as this race), exercising more with friends and/or in a group (this race qualifies there, too. Love you, Rita!), looking at new crafting adventures, etc.

Taking part in Darcy's link-up keeps me accountable to this new-ness and risk-taking. If I did something, I ought to document it and be proud of it. Even if I am very busy this time of year. (I totally missed last week.) Or, I can have my son document it :-) He was in charge of video and photos this day.
Sweet Shot Day

For you detail people, my time was 31:13, easily in the top half of all finishers.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

With our Irish last name, we of course attended St. Patrick's Day activities last week.  The parade and celebration at the State Historical Museum put me in touch with many warm, old acquaintances. [event specifics were given here.] Not that the people were old, but that I've known them for many years. Like this lovely person and this one, too.

This was also the day that I invited my in-laws (that Irish last name!) to our house for homemade shamrock shakes and a gift. The gift was purchased after we had some Abraham Lincoln activities (again at the state history museum) last month.We spent some time in the gift shop. Amazing how a small space can have so much stuff packed in it! I noticed three cardboard boxes of old maps. They were sitting on a table. No fancy display or sign; it was very humble. I'd probably walked by these boxes every time prior without browsing through them. I decided for whatever reason to give a look inside -- the boxes were full of old maps.

I originally tried to find MY home place, but there were none from that county. After quite some time sorting through all of his county's maps and two phone calls to a SIL, I found two maps from 1896 for my husband's childhood home -- one larger and one smaller. I thought my in-laws would like the larger one for better readability, so I bought it, and left the smaller one.

Then I had remorse for not buying the small map and the large map. We have a room where we keep photos and artwork of places we've lived and visited, and the map I left behind would be great. The wall never looks 'done,' it's always crooked, and I like it. I have two things waiting for frames to go up there as I type this. Anyway, I went back the next day and bought the small map. It has different information on it. We presented the maps on March 17 and let his parents choose one map for their house. We'd take the remaining map.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quote of the Day

i heard my younger son and knew that he retained his cell unit as he made lunch today:

'there is cytoplasm all over my hand.'

'the nucleus blew up. it's mixing with the cytoplasm and i can't find the ribosome.'

'behold, the end of humpty dumpty!'

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Monday, March 22, 2010

More Spring Break

As I mentioned earlier, on Tuesday of Spring Break last week, we had families over for lunch. The funny thing was that there were a lot of kids. An average of 3.25 kids per adult. (And one family cancelled!)  I laid out carrot and celery sticks. I love carrot and celery sticks. By the end of our lunch, the carrots were gone.
The celery, barely touched. There were no celery fans at our party.

I took some new carrots and the leftover celery, hummus, and mint dip to a different party, a home school moms meeting, on Thursday night. Almost all of it was gone by the end of the night. Yes! Celery fans! My people!

One highlight of the meeting was meeting Diana and Alice. New people -- new to home schooling and new to the town. I love to see people get turned on to something that I am passionate about. Homeschooling is one of those passions. It's been very right for our family.

Being in a group really energizes me -- knitting, scrapbooking, talking about a book, etc. Groups give me affirmation, new ideas, and inspiration. A spark in me turns into a flame by the time I leave. Here are the blogging moms at the meeting: Maria, Diana, and me.

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Spring break, part 2

3/4 of GAIN and I visited the rivers at their confluence (blogged about it here) Monday of Spring Break. We felt very small, to say the least. We hoped to see icebergs as we have in years past (I photographed some small ones here, or you might see bigger ones yourself from Walnut Woods State Park or near the area here), but there were none. We left the confluence to visit Bass Pro Shop.

We had friends and family over for a House Party (details can be found in my article) one day last week. I would consider applying for another House Party. I can't say that I felt used, or pressured by the company. A nephew and neighbor spent the night with "G" of GAIN.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bread crafting

The kids and I took this last week as spring break. I'll report on our last week in small bits this week.

Just like last year, we attended the St. Joseph's Day luncheon and took in the family and group altars. It is a very enriching experience for my faith. The history in short form: Sicilians had a drought during the Middle Ages. They prayed to their patron saint, St. Joseph. He brought rain. They celebrated with fava beans, the crop that saved them from starvation (and usually reserved to feed livestock). Today's community maintains the tradition.

"A" of GAIN enriched her faith this week in same manner as last year, too. She volunteered with our church's youth group in its Faith in Action (FIA) program. In FIA, the group begins the day with daily mass, then does meaningful work in the community -- sorting the food pantry donations from the past weekend and cleaning the facility, cleaning our church and its gym bleachers, sandbagging in Birdland, and working on the parish's Habitat for Humanity House.

More about our week will come later.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

sideways scarf, dark

Again, finished in one night of watching the tube with the hubs. Even faster because I learned to pay attention to [right side and wrong side]/[where to attach the next row or yarn] from my first attempt. I made this a couple nights ago, using a circular size 6 needle (such as these). I decided to use the small needle because most of my dark yarns are dk weight. I didn't want to double the strand, but at the same time, I feared a shorter scarf with the small needles. Now that it is finished, here's what I think.

It is sturdier/stiffer with the smaller needles. Makes sense. The length is also more suited to a man than a woman. I would have made it longer if there would have been room on the needles. This scarf is not as soft as the light colored one. Unsure why, because the yarns were possibly nicer and definitely smoother than the light scarf. The color and yarn choices make this suitable for men.

Also, I used a pair of $1 needles from a huge chain store. Not the best. The attachment points where the cable and needle join is not smooth enough for all yarns. Stiff yarn that would not lay against the joint worked OK. I think $1 is a good deal only if I can use them. I could not practically use these needles for most of my stashed yarns. Definitely slowed my pace, and I will probably throw them out.

I liked the way I was able to use very short remnants (the coral 'confetti' yarn left from a prayer shawl, some leftover 'watercolors' yarn from "A" of GAIN's early knitting) -- working a bit of this yarn alongside another strand of different yarn as a base, and having the remnant run through the middle area of the scarf but not the ends -- was a nice look.

The pattern is like crazy quilts. Freedom within boundaries. I love freedom.

Here is the pattern in local blogger Girl with a sword's words:

Get yourself some size 17 (or so) circular needles, and a big stash of yarn. ANY yarn will do, from fingering or lace weight up to super bulky. You can choose a color theme, do a rainbow (as shown above) or just be totally random. I have yet to make one that is ugly; somehow, they always turn out funky and beautiful. And the more mixed-up the fibers, the better! I use cheap acrylic, handspun, and everything inbetween. Funky eyelash and ladder yarns are great, as are ribbons or even thin strips of fabric. Mix is up, it's all about texture. Anyway, cast on 80 stitches or so. 60 will make a short scarf, 100+ a long one. I have done it all. Leave a long tail when you cast on, and a long tail at the end. Now pick another yarn or group of yarns, leave a long tail, knit all the way across, and leave another long tail. Repeat until you run out of yarn, get tired, or decide it's done. Cast off, the knot the fringe ends. That's IT.

If you're using fat yarn, one or maybe 2 strands per row are fine. I used up alot of my sock yarn bits, then I'd do 4 or 5 per row. 


Saturday, March 13, 2010


I love giveaways. I also like the way blog giveaways are usually designed -- you learn and see something new, and sometimes you get material goods. I like to stay current for occasional conversations, and I like being a consumer.

Here's my latest giveaway win from Tara at DSM Coupon Mom  (soon to be changing her name).

I love getting happy mail. Priority mail just seems to be extra special.

This is where my kids might quote_The Emperor's New Groove_ -- "...put that box in another box, and mail it to myself."

And for the big reveal.....

I won a leather photo album and coupon for free product!

Every giveaway works similarly. This one happened to require answering a question in the comment area. Most giveaways, like this one, are trying to grow their readership and do market research (did you read about MyBlogSpark in Tara's post? Yeah, me neither, but that's what I think it is), so "following" a blog, naming a favorite product, identifying a new piece of information, retweeting, becoming a facebook fan, etc. can also give you entries. More entries are presented, flawed in my thinking, as increasing your chances of winning. (hello? really? have you heard of dilution and saturation? that negates the extra entries) 

I will be having a giveaway later this year. Not so much for promotion (I'm not a business blogger), but to spread the blogger love and reduce my crafting stash. Let's vote: should I give away a sideways scarf or a yo-yo necklace? Look in the sidebar and vote for a week.


Thursday, March 11, 2010


[Yes, I've seen the movie Sideways. How appropriate for blogger to turn my photo sideways.]

That was fast! With new yarn for every row, I had a little difficulty keeping track of which end to attach the new yarn to. Being a skinny stockinette stitch scarf made this fast. Casting on was slow, and I did not count my stitches. Sideways is very appropriately named.

You cannot see every yarn precisely. I used ribbon yarn, tube yarn, sock yarn in triple strand, acrylic leftover from Christmas ornaments, heather from my BIL's fingerless mitts, fun fur, thick Wool-Ease, chenille yarn, a nice blend that I bought in WI at the LYS -- basically any yarn that was not for a dishcloth or super special (angora, etc. that I'm saving for "something") went into this scarf.

This scarf will probably get a lot of use -- it's fairly long, light colored and goes with many outfits. I think I'll make a dark sideways scarf next, with a few bright strands.


knitting this week

I really truly knitted this week! My church's Prayer Shawl Ministry met on Monday. 'Love the fellowship and the brainless knitting "pattern" of the shawls.

Another "pattern" has been on my mind, so I started it with white acrylic yarn, size 15 circular knitting needles. It's gonna be long. I know, you can dip the cable in hot water to get rid of the curl. I'm not worried about it.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

how to make a fish print

You can read all about our gyotaku experience on my geocaching blog. As I state over there, fish prints can  elevate the typical day of fishing to artwork. Here, I describe the how-to. It doesn't smell, by the way.

0.5 Have a covered work surface. 
1. clean fish of mucus (funny word, isn't it?). a bucket of water will work.

2. dry fish with paper towel.

3. if the fish is not very flat, support any parts underneath with clay. reserve this clay for fish only.
4. pin fins with straight pins into the supporting clay
5. cut a card into a circle to place over the fish's eye
6. apply small amount of tempera paint to fish, but leave an eye circle. work quickly before the paint dries (funny that blogger rotated this picture for me THE RIGHT WAY)
7. put the eyecard in place.
8. put Japanese (calligraphy or wall) paper over the fish

9. press gently over the entire fish
10. lift paper up.
11. remove the eyecard.
12. using a black marker, draw a "C" in the eye circle.


That's it! Large-scaled fish work best, from the store or fresh-caught. We used thawed fish that had been frozen three days beforehand.



We had a wonderful homeschool program on Japanese fish printing, gyotaku, yesterday. Since it is very related to our water quality and the environment, I will have a related post on my nature blog later. It's going to require more thought, therefore, LATER.

The artistic part of the program is much easier to talk about, so here is a picture.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Watercolor update

Not very inspired this last week to paint. I started two (out of five), finished none.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Card making


Like my extended family (here and here), I find card making to be a good thing. Convenient in that I don't need to leave the house and my family and spend an hour choosing the 'right card' (which we attempted during January), I can make something that satisfies my taste and the recipient's. Also, in the long view, it is cheaper than buying a handmade or factory-made card for $2 minimum in a retail setting. 

The inspiration card on the left was my birthday card from my friend and business partner, Cathy (read about her here). Since I needed boy cards, I chose to stick with the circles and bands of her card, then changed the colors to be bright and congratulatory but not feminine.

All the materials I need to make cards are in my toolbox. For the cards above, I used cardstock stash and scraps, a circle punch and some alphabet stamps from Michael's $1 baskets, ribbon I received for my birthday, and deeply discounted ink that I found at Archivers. The blue and green inks are Fiskars high-density pigment ink, to which I say, "WOW!" The title is the truth, not false advertising. Twice the pigment gives very bright, true-to-color images. I am very impressed with it.

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