Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Darnit!

I was just going on last night about how making rag rugs is so fun and interesting because it's always a surprise, what one might look like when you're done.  I set down the rug I was working on and went to check on my boys...and what did I see when I came back?
Darnit!  It totally had this Americana tip, which, if you're into that I'm not judging, it's just not the direction I would choose.  I was going more for woodsy than flagsy (you see it, right?), but it's quite striking actually, so I almost considered keeping it and just trying to even it out with some other blues and greens.  But I'd never be able to rest if I left it like this.  So, back to the drawing board!

It Dropped 30 Degrees Over Night

 Tonight we had our most successful fire yet.  Our fireplace is a bit of a mystery to us.  When we first moved here, it was one of those gas logs?  I was always afraid to turn it on, mostly due to the fact that a friend of mine screwed up her stove when we lived in San Francisco and it involved an enormous fireball and a long-term lack of eyebrows.  I'm good, thanks.  Crank up the thermostat and put on some socks.  (Michelle, if you're reading this...was it Lindy???  For some reason I think it was!)

 When my dad did our kitchen, we went from an electric stove top to a gas range.  Because we don't bother ourselves with things like permits or codes, he ran the water for the pot filler faucet from the hot water heater, and he ran gas for the stove from the same area.  At that time, he disconnected the gas leading to the log, and we began burning wood in our fireplace.

Amended:  We began trying to burn wood in our fireplace.  I swear to crimeney, I look at the amount of work it takes to ignite and keep burning a few logs right here in the luxury of our home using a fire starting brick and enough newspapers and kindling to choke a horse, and I think to myself....how in the hell do forest fires happen?  Keeping a single log lit is like a full-time job at our house.


 Cold weather hobbies:  knitting....
... and crocheting.  These balls of fabric make rag rugs.
 I love making rag rugs...they're such a fun surprise!  You just never really know how a fabric will work up, and the whole thing sort of reveals itself over time.  So many sheets to prep.
If I ever stop making rag rugs, it will because of this.  The stringy bits and elastic bands that are left when you're done tearing the sheets drive me positively batty.   Oh, I do hope I'm not jinxing myself going on about all these problems I have!  I'm going to completely fall apart when something actually happens to me.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's Like Saying I Love You, 150,000 Times in a Row

My cousin Kelly shared this on her blog, and Erik and I laughed so hard!

I think it was a special touch when I hovered over him, during a Halo Death Match, until the game ended so he could watch it.  He loved it though!  If you don't live with a knitter, you may not understand how totally true it is.  I'm going to have to knit him an x-box controller cozy, I'm thinking.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Weekend Wonders

 Sunday morning.  Just outside the trailer.   Perfect.
 Early morning walk, crunching through the snow.  Beautiful.









Watching Tommy throw himself, with abandon, into the snow over and over and over again.
Perfectly beautiful.

Behind the Scenes

We've been very busy at corporate headquarters, sorting out some technical difficulties.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Recently Captured....

...the beauty of a sunset.  I spent some time experimenting with the settings on my Nikon D90, trying to find something that would accurately capture the amazing sunsets we've been watching from the backyard.  Nope.  This one (the exposure length hinted at in the slight blurring) probably got the closest to the city lights and the amazing, placid, bay water...but did absolutely nothing for the sky.  This washed-out version is a crime compared to the electric blue, orange, and pink we experienced all week. 
 ...the beauty of boys.  As mama to two boys, you can call me biased, but there is something so sweet and stirring about a gaggle of boys, standing around just being boys.  This shot of my kids and our friend, Yusef, at the dock of the lake near our house...it just slays me.  The bike, the scooter, the baseball hats and huge sticks Scotty is lugging around, all of it just screams "little boy" to me.  Swoon.
...the beauty of the lake on an unseasonably warm autumn day.  I took this picture from the other side of the dock, and it's all shadows and mellow ripples across the water and flags lazily flapping in the breeze.

It's funny, I look at these pictures and they aren't photoshopped, there's no bokeh, one is blurry and the land looks parched in the other, but in every picture, I see so much beauty.  These pictures, they may not speak at all to you, as the casual observer, but for me, they evoke the sweet calm of holding my honey's hand after a long day of work, watching the sun go down together; I can feel the ache of understanding that these boys, my time with them, of knowing their childhoods, it is all so fleeting; and I can remember what it sounded like, standing on the dock, with the water and the ducks and the laughter floating around me as I closed my eyes and tried to make this moment last.

These pictures won't change the world, but they perfectly captured mine, and I'm feeling really grateful for that, just now.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yarn for Socks

It must sound like all I do is enter giveaways on The Internets.  I swear, I hardly ever do!  Just in the last two weeks, I refrained from entering Brit's Murray the Owl Giveaway and Linda's gift card give away (though she later encouraged me to jump in, which I did, hoping to win the card for a student's family!), to name but a few.  I try not to enter lots of contests, and you're going to laugh at me, but the reason why is because I am SO lucky....it's rude to win so much!  I know, I know.  Laugh if you must.

But, when you've wiped your laughy-tears away, take a gander at this gorgeous skein of fingering silky merino I won.  I won it on Amanda Soule's sponsor giveaway a couple of weeks ago, but it came in the mail from Sundara Yarns just this weekend.  It is by far the most luxurious and expensive fiber I ever will have worked with (and at $50 a skein, I'm deathly afraid of getting used to it!) and it is so soft and beautiful and the colors....oh, my goodness...the colors!  I suspect it's worth every penny.

Sundara Yarns tells me this will be enough for a scarf, but I have my heart set on knitting my first pair of socks!  It will probably have to wait until after Christmas ~ I'm kind of up to my neck in gift making at the moment, and I suspect this little project will take my full attention!  That's alright though.  This yarn is good enough to enjoy on my counter for awhile longer.  I'm off to buy some knitting needles the size of toothpicks.  Wish me luck...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Mean, Really!

 I suppose there is a proper way to share this, which would probably involve waiting for the thank you card to arrive in her actual mailbox (hard pressed to meet this criteria, since the card is sitting, stamped, on the passenger seat of my car....still!) but let's just be honest here and say, you know, I'm not known for being conventional.

I am famous in my own mind, however, for being incredibly lucky.  I'm telling you...it's a party in my mailbox!  Witness:
 How adorable is this knitted pouch?!?  Kelly's mom Carol (who blogs at Sisters Three about all things homey and family), just out of nowhere, sent it with a sweet note and instructions for making my own.  I couldn't resist filling it up already....
 Yes!  With gnomes!  Am I right?  I mean, really!  It is just a situation so overloaded with cute that I can barely stand it.   I think she's a genius.  Wee little gnomes?  Check!  Garden fairies?  Check!  Tiny wooden bucket and pint-sized hope chest?  Check-check!  Good times.

 As I'm slowly adding to our Gnome Village, I'm learning that Scotty pretty much loves the little wooden people in any state.  Flower fairies, gnomes...buck naked.  He loves them!  And I love listening to him and his little Mickey Mouse voice as he takes them through a typical day.
He slept with a pouch full of gnomes, and I have to say...I approve.  Thank you, Carol!  We LOVE our sweet gift and can't wait to make more!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cheap and Easy....Cheasy?

I love a bargain.  I bought an embroidered jean skirt at the thrift store 2 weeks ago (and have since worn three times, so it's already paid for itself!) and every time I wear it somebody compliments it.  I should say, "Thank you!" but instead I cheerfully state, "It only cost $5.00 second hand!"  My need to be a savvy shopper, apparently, is worth far more than my dignity.  But, if you care that I bought some clothes at the thrift, you're probably not the kind of person I'd be worrying about impressing anyway, so we'll call it a draw.

All that to say, I bought some wooden candlesticks at Casey's Wood, and they cost all of $2.50 each.  They are solid and cute and six inches tall, but they were also unfinished.  I just bought a couple pairs, since I didn't know what I'd actually do with them (a box full of cheap but unused items moves from 'frugal!' to 'stupid!' in a flash...I'm speaking from experience *cough*) so I didn't want a gross on hand to remind me of my impulse purchase.
 I painted them red (two coats, actually) using some paint pots gifted to me by a teaching friend.  I couldn't even tell you what kind of paint it is!  When both coats dried, I wanted to add some easy embellishments.  I'm nobody's tole painter, but the one trick I know is that if you want to make 'dots', you don't use the brush end...just dip the tip of the handle into the paint, and use that.  It forms perfect, smear free dots, so knock yourself out!  These have a blue center dot surrounded by yellow dots to form a simple folk art-inspired flower.  I made a ring of them around the candlestick.
 I felt it needed more, but my limited talents were already completely stretched.  Necessity being the inspiration of so many crafty ideas, it occurred to me after just a few minutes that I could make a ring of yellow dots around the top detailing.  The urge to keep adding on was strong indeed, but when you are working more on will than skill, it's best to go the 'less is more' path.
From unfinished but charming to "oh man, why didn't I buy more of these now I want about a dozen" in less than 15 minutes (not tallying dry time, of course!).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Daylight

I won't lie.  "Getting" an extra hour on Sunday felt good...in the morning.  By 7:30 at night, when it had been dark for, like, 4 hours already (shut up, it's true) and it felt like midnight I was ready to give back that hour just so I could say, "bed time!" to every person in our family!  It was a rainy, stormy day, which did nothing for the dwindling daylight hours.  Yesterday it was sunny and mild, a perfect Northern California autumn day, but I saw my breath when I stepped outside in the morning so I knew my job was to get home before the sun went down (at 5:30...ahem) and work on getting the rest of the tomatoes in.  Seriously.
 I harvested another huge cardboard box full of green, yellow, and red tomatoes.  That was two more plants worth.  I won't get home before dark today, so I'll try again tomorrow.   It's supposed to be in the 60s all week, so I think I 'll have time.  Of course, I can't put off too long what to do with these once I get them inside, either!  I am convinced that pretending to be a farmer is way more work than actually being a farmer.  Because I actually have, you know, a whole other job I'm doing when I teach.  Which takes away from the amount of time and energy I have for dealing with three (and counting) boxes of tomatoes. 
 As I'm putting summer garden to bed, I'm reminded of our October heat wave....by this lone pepper.  Better bring him in.  I don't think he'll get bigger now.
 The rosemary can move into shelter too (they don't love frost, and you never know when a cold snap will hit) but these are the happiest strawberries ever.  I have to read up how to take care of them for the winter, but they are loving our bay climate and spreading like crazy.
 Inside, with dinner done and cleaned up, I had no other time to do anything except love These Boys, but I did manage to spend just a few minutes setting up a Functional Santa's Workshop.

I think I'm ready for the darkness.  Winter, you're not my favorite, but I still love you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Been Busy

I am thoroughly committed to finishing some projects for the holidays.  I like to give (and get, if you're wondering! ;) handmade presents.  But I've never successfully pulled off much of a handmade coup at this time of year; mostly because the projects are too ambitious, combined with I start them too late.

This year, through a combination of starting in October and working on some projects I never finished LAST year, I am quite on track for my most successful (and no doubt still sorely lacking) Christmas exchange.

For example, once the materials have been prepared (I wrote about this here), it was a snap to whip up two new rag rugs in just a few evenings.
 It's so hard to photograph these for scale.  I think this could be any size based on the picture!  Is it a placemat?  Or a rug? 
 

Here's the Wii remote for scale purposes.  I don't know.  Does this really help?

Forget it.  Here, let me just hop on it.  It's a good size to stand on in front of the stove or the sink, I do think so!  And I like this one.  I make a lot of blue rugs (I don't even prefer the color blue, but the first one I ever made was for my Grandma Mary, and blue is her favorite and only color, and the materials from several blue sheets will last a LONG TIME.  Just saying.)  and this one is probably one of my favorites.  It came out with a very 'graphic' quality which pleases me.  And, also?  Is not my asthetic.  What can I say?  I'm extremely open-minded about such things.

Then i made this one, which is much cuter in person, I declare it so.  I like this one because circles are rad.  haha Not even kidding.  Wee little gnomes and flower fairy aren't doing much for the scale.

 But they sure make me happy!  These are prototypes I made from the Wee Folk Art directions, and they are a huge hit with Scotty.  In fact, I had made the purple and the fairy for testing purposes, and Scotty woke up in the morning and found them and loved them so much that he asked me to "make a whole town" and literally MADE me make another one RIGHT NOW because he needed a Daddy.  He claims the originals were him and Tommy.  Be still my heart.  Yesterday I spent most of the day (and my extra hour!) over at my mom's house.  My grand niece and nephew were there, and between the three of them, our three new friends got a quite a workout!  Good, I have big plans for these little folks, and hopefully lots more to share about that.

Anybody making anything?  I know Michelle is making an argyle cardigan (show off!)...anything else happening?  I love to hear about makin'.  It just makes me happy.  :)

Kind of like this video I shared on Facebook this weekend.  Worth sharing again, I promise.

If you can't play the video, you can find it here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Can't Get Enough of This

video
I just can't get enough of this little video of Scotty bowling.  We've been watching it over and over, and it still cracks me up!  It was on my phone, but it uploaded when I synched, and I couldn't be happier.  You can't hear it over me laughing so hard, but the folks next to us were so funny.  Some quotes, you may or may not catch on the video:

"Now, he is bowlin'"
"He's bowlin' his ass off!"
"Now he's having a good time!"

ha!  haha!  They were so sweet to little Scott!  You can see his obsession with washing down the bowling balls (which he learned from the neighboring bowlers) and his distinct, stylized delivery (run and toss), but I don't think you get to see his obsession with running back to the automated scoring kiosk and punching button after button.  He looked like Lt. Sulu during a particularly pesky Klingon encounter, all earnest concentration and fingers flying across the screen.

I could die.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Class Act

These last couple of weeks have been all about the Giants' Post Season.  Tommy and I have spent many, many, many evenings watching the games.  It's hard for me to set still for that long, so we have to keep busy.
 I have been finishing up (whew!  almost done!) the applique flowers that I started...um....last spring?  At least?  I've finished the purple set, the orange set, the red set, and the blue set.  I have one and a half of the yellow set done.  (There are three in each set).
I was originally thinking to make them into a quilt, but oh-my-good-god, that is so not happening.  So I think they'll be used in a variety of projects over the next couple of months.  Some things, I can picture exactly what they will be, and how they will be finished.  Other things are fuzzier.  Still others are yet to be conceived.  It should be interesting!


 Tommy stays busy right along side me.  He tends to get lost in his play, but I can do both at the same time.  Which means that he would pop up prairie dog style every time I cheered or grumbled.  It reminds me of growing up with my dad, who always had The Game on the radio, low, in the background...we'd be talking about something, and every once in a while he would whoop or yell, and it would scare the crap out of me.  I swear to you, the radio was barely above a whisper, but he always had one ear on it.  Even when the rest of us were oblivious.

I am so happy that Our Giants won.  But truly, I am NEARLY AS happy at the sportsmanship and class shown by both the Giants and the Texas Rangers.  The Rangers ~ from the coaches to the players to the fans ~ are a real class act.  I'm sure there were overzealous fans on both sides (beer + testosterone can be a tricky combination) but I have mostly heard some amazing things.  I heard that the Rangers organization let the Giants fans onto the field after the game to celebrate with the players!  I heard that the fans welcomed the Giants fans into their stadium!  And, despite a few polite but pointed signs re:  Huff Daddy's Rally Thong (ahem, did you really think Texas would approve?!?) there was none of the  apparent vitriol that the Phillies fans exhibited (Really?  "Fix your teeth"?  I sort of thought "Hippie Freak" was funny ~ especially since the hippie was whoopin' you ~ but the personal attacks, just....no.)  And I love that Washington just handed it to our Pitchers in the sweetest, most relaxed way.  I don't know much about the AL, but I kind of have a soft spot for Texas at the moment.  It doesn't hurt that I wish only the best for Bengie.  

I'm feeling so generous toward our rivals, in fact, that I'm even hoping for a speedy recovery for both the Dallas-based announcer and Josh Hamilton who were both nearly apoplectic that fans were smoking pot..."fifty feet away from the cops!!!"  Welcome to San Francisco, guys.  I can't believe that's news to anyone, but in the spirit of our new friendship, I offer the sincere hope that you'll not hold it against our city.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

WooooooHoooooooooo!

Giants win the series!  Giants win the series!

I love our misfits and castoffs, I love this team, I love this game! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Dia de los Muertos!

I have a random day off from work today (*cough* furlough *cough*) which happily coincides with a field trip Tommy's class is taking to a local museum.  So I get to go, which is always super fun!  Tommy's class entered an exhibit in their Dia de los Muertos display, and this will be the first time I've seen it.  I'll make it over to Oakland where my grandma and grandpa are buried, and I'll visit their graves and add flowers and clean up the area.   I love traditions!

Speaking of which, a very special tradition started around here in the last couple of years.  It involves spending the two or three days before Halloween trying on every costume in the dress up boxes!
 We saw a parade of pirates, jedis, super heros, and warriors for the entire weekend.  I was curious how they would actually end up on Halloween!  Tommy eventually went as a gladiator, and Scotty went as Optimus Prime from the Transformers.  We headed over to the Harris Family's new house in an upscale neighborhood in Oakland. 

 We had a blast, watching the Giants game (and getting updates at every house along the way!) while also cheering them on with a portable radio (what can I say?  We're fans!) and the kids scored full-sized candy bars from many of the houses.  What the what?  It was a shocking turn of events for all four sets of parents that were chaperoning our troupe of marauders.  Why, back in the day, we got raisins and mini snickers!  Good times.
I had my own kind of haul over the weekend....I've started clearing out the gardens as the chill in the air is taking longer and longer to dissipate each day.  I brought in the last of the eggplants (that would be about 2 dozen, by the way!) as well as a couple of squash and thanks to a heat wave earlier this month, I also got the last two cucumbers, and two bell peppers.  I'm only through two tomato plants (I'll get through the other tomato plants today) but I already have a nice pile of red tomatoes and a hojillion green ones.  I think we may be eating fresh tomatoes for Thanksgiving before all is said and done! 

Hopefully, all these vitamin-rich homegrown veggies will counterbalance two buckets of candy.  Oh wait.  Am I supposed to care about the sugar?  I think I am supposed to let my kids pick two pieces and chuck the rest, is that right?  Ah, well.  I'm going to leave that to the good parents.  We'll be here, on a sugar high, eating tomatoes.