Saturday, September 27, 2008

Alpaca Farm Day

This weekend is "National Alpaca Farm Days". A local knitting and crochet group that I'm a part of found out about it and a bunch of us met at a local alpaca farm to join in on the fun.

I'm already a HUUUUGE llama fan (I use to have some) and I've liked alpacas.'m officially crazy about alpacas too. They are sooooooo cute, sooooo soft, and I soooooooo want to have some. Here's a glimpse of what I saw today...

Look at some of the beautiful colors they come in...

Mommy and baby....

Another adorable baby...

Up close...just look at that face...

My favorite baby alpaca. She's not shy at all. She loves to be in the middle off everything and follows people around. She loves attention. She's so cute and so soft with a nose and lips that are softer than velvet. She's sooooooo sweet!...

It got pretty hot, even in the shade. This alpaca knew what to do...Take a dip in the water tub!...

The farm also has beautiful rovings, yarns, kits, and other alppaca items for sale. They even have Mexican food available that is being cooked right there.

LLamas and alpacas are so magical to me. I love them. It was soooo much fun to spend some time with them. If you're in the area and interested, I'd definitely recommend a visit to "All American Alpaccas". The owners are very nice and their alpaccas are beautiful and well cared for.

Flavor of the Day

Today's muffin flavor...Apple Streusel.

I used some pre-measured muffin mix that I prepared a few weeks ago and got creative. I peeled and sliced a couple of Granny Smith apples and cooked them with a Cinnamon, Cloves, Allspice, and a little water until they were soft. Meanwhile, I mixed up the muffin batter and had it ready in the muffin pan. I made up some streusel topping (flour, brown sugar, Cinnamon and butter mixed/cut to form course crumbs). I spooned hot apples on top of the batter, sprinkled streusel on top and baked it.

They were soooooo good! My best yet! :-)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ocean Breezes

Ahhh, fresh ocean air, a cool breeze, and a warm, soft scarf. The beach and knitting. These are two of my favorite things that come together in a book I got this week, "Ocean Breezes, Knitted Scarves Inspired by the Sea", by Sheryl Thies. The photos and patterns in this book are beautiful and unique. They're wonderfully textured and the variety of styles provide possibilities for everyone. There are scarves that are thick and warm, whispy and lacy, whimsical and fun, dressy, casual, rectangles, diamonds, "Goldfish Tails", a cowl, a collar, and more. Some of the inspiration came from waves, shells, mermaids, turtles, and starfish. It's fun to see how she interpreted the inspiration into knitting.

There are so many scarves in this book that I can't wait to'll be hard to pick the first one. The patterns appear to be clear and easy to understand. The author provides information about each scarf and the inspiration behind it. And, the book provides information on techniques and helpful advice to get the most from the projects. She says that it's a great skill building book. That sounds great to me...especially, with small projects that can provide learning, fun, and quick rewards. I love a knitting book that has lots of patterns that I love. This is one of those books!

I loved how I got this book! I've been participating in Harris Online polls for years. They send me emails to take surveys. I do the surveys and earn points that I can redeem for merchandise or gift cards. I've gotten quite a few great things over the past few years, including gift cards for Target, Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, and now, Amazon. This time I had enough points to get $20 in giftcards at Amazon and this book is one of the things I got. Fun! I always love free, especially when it's great stuff like this...and especially when it's related to fiber fun!!! :-)

Here's to the sea and knitting, and to Sheryl Thies for bringing these two wonderful things together! :-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I've been whining on here lately about some knitting projects that just seem to keep going and going and no matter how much I work on them they don't seem to be nearing completion. Don't get me wrong, I looooovvve knitting on them but FO's help keep some of the excitement going. So, yesterday my goal was to finish something. I just had to start something new to get one since all my other projects want to hang around a while longer. I had wanted to make some kind of "sweater" for my new coffee press (to help keep the coffee warm) and had some ideas rolling around in my head. I did a quick search on Ravelry and found a project that was pretty much what I had imagined. I used it for inspiration and got to work. Here is the result...

It has little buttons to hold it on...

This quick little project definitely doesn't provide the same uplift that the ones I'm working on will but it is nice to have a little accomplishment.

I had an "ah ha" idea this weekend that sort of gave me another FO. Earlier this year I had spun up some yarn to make a bag. The spinning went fine. The knitting went fine. The felting part...not so fine. Felting has usually gone well for me but this bag did it's own thing. It shrank down in height a LOT (more than usual) and got a LOT wider (this has never happened). Very weird! I had spent some time trying to think of a way to save the project, to make it different than originally planned but finally decided to pack it away for a while until I could come up with something. This weekend, I did! A cat bed! I folded down the sides, presented to the cat, she hopped in, and it was love at first nap...well, bath...that's the first thing she did in it, but she loves it. Yay! Another FO!

I think she actually likes this bed more than the one I made that was meant as a cat bed. The sides stay up better on this one and the size is purrrfect for her! I knitted a big rectangle, picked up stitches around the edge, and knitted sides...then it felted into a bed instead of a bag. I had planned to needle felt something onto the sides, add a fabric lining with lots of pockets and make it into a great project bag...but I think I like it better as a bed. :-)

Back to work on my sock and shawl projects!

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm still here...

I don't have any FO's to post today but I've been busy... I've made more progress on the Pomatamus socks. I finished one of hubby's socks and hope to take a picture tonight to post. I've finished more Christmas gifts but now that some family members have my blog address I can't post pix. I've knitted a lot on the Crescendo shawl and it's now half of the 66" needed. It seems like it's just eating the yarn though because I'll knit and knit and when I measure it seems to have barely grown. I think that's because it's so heavily textured. I just started into the sixth ball of yarn!

The weather was soooo nice this weekend with beautiful days in the 70's and chilly nights. Ahhhhh! I love that! I did a little baking this weekend and made a delicious pot of chicken soup and a batch of biscuits for dinner last night. My daughter was down with a cold most of the weekend and the chicken soup seemed to help. :-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Flower for a Friend

This post is dedicated to my friend, Anita. She passed away this week after a long battle with cancer. I met Anita in high school and we've been friends for about 30 years. She had such a big heart with so much love. And, she was such a strong person. She was born with Cerebral Pasly that stiffened her muscles so much that she spent her entire life in a wheel chair. It made it difficult for her to talk and be understood. It even made it difficult for her to hug and be hugged.

She would steer her wheelchair with her chin and a little joystick kind of thing. She needed assistance for pretty much everything she needed to do. Like getting dressed, going to the bathroom, brushing her teeth, eating, etc. But, all that didn't stop her from living. She typed with a pencil clenched between her teeth. She graduated from high school and went on to graduate from college with a bachelors degree. She wasn't able to get a paid job but that didn't stop her from working. She rode a public bus for many years to volunteer in a hospital and then in a hospital for elderly. She loved that because she was able to visit with the patients and felt that she was making a difference in their lives by being there for them.

She did a lot of reading and loved God with a passion that I've never seen. Even over the past couple of years when she was so sick. She was looking forward to going to heaven so much that she was excited about it. I was looking at some pictures of her that she sent to me after she was diagnosed with cancer and on the back of one of them it says: "I am imagining I am in the ocean where there is simply beautiful creatures swimming all around me. This is a fore taste of what's yet to come in the future with the Big Guy up above."

After she got sick she didn't want to see friends anymore (which I still struggle to understand), but I realize that after almost 50 years of being so strong, and with the excitement she had to meet and be with God, I need to be happy for her. I just miss her and I'm so sad that I haven't been able to see her in so long and will never see her again. But, I have to believe she is in a better place and finally free from the stiffness that has restrained her.

Thank you, Anita, for loving me like no friend ever has and being an example that I will continue to learn from. What a woman!

I also just found out that her mother passed away in September after a battle with the same terrible disease. She was 85 and was also a very strong and amazing woman. That makes four people that I know of who have died from cancer in the past year. Cancer is so unfair!!!

A note to any doctors that may read this and to any of us who may ever need to be a patient... Patients need choices and their decisions need to be respected. Anita wasn't given all the information she needed when she was diagnosed and faced surgery. The doctor decided for her that when he did a hysterectomy that he would also take her bladder out as a precaution. She never would have allowed that if she'd known. She ended up with a urine bag on the side of her chair and was so humiliated that she didn't want anyone to see her like that. It took away her dignity and her will to live. That wasn't right! She wished she could go back and figure out how to keep that from happening. Unfortanately, that wasn't possible. But, maybe others can learn from it so it doesn't happen to anyone else.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Morning

I tried out my pre-mixed muffin mix yesterday. It did make muffin making easier. There were less things to get out, measure, and put away. Yesterday's flavor: banana. Yummm!

We enjoyed them with fresh, hot coffee from our new coffee press that I bought last week. We have a little electric espresso maker and we enjoy it a lot. But, we've been thinking that it might be nice to just have coffee sometimes. So, last week I set out to get a coffee maker. But, I just couldn't get myself to buy one. It would be one more appliance that someday would end up in a landfill because (unless I don't know about it) you can't recycle them. I couldn't live with that. It already drives me crazy to think that just about everything we see in stores will eventually end up in a landfill. We live in such a world of excess. I love trying to do things with as little as possible, buying used things to give them another life, recycling, etc. So...what to do? Ah Ha! A coffee press! I found one for only $8! If it ever breaks I won't feel so bad about it. I might be able to separate the glass and it can be recycled. There's not much left after that, just a tiny bit of metal and a small plastic handle. I saved a lot of money too! That's always great! And, it's easy to use and the coffee tastes great! :-)

I went to a gathering of knitters on Saturday afternoon. It was a lot of fun, as usual, and I was able to get some advice from a super sock knitter, Lisa, so I can proceed with my two sock projects. (Thanks, Lisa!) I told her that I was feeling like Pomatamus sock seemed too small (turns out it's ok), and my "man" socks are seeming way too big (they kinda are). Now, maybe, I'll get them to turn out just right. :-)

I decided not to try the MS4 project. It might be a bit advanced for me right now. Plus, I have so many other things lined up in my mind that I want to make. One of them is the Mermaid Scarf designed by Lisa. I bought the pattern and needles on Saturday and plan to start it this week with yarn that I bought for a lace project that I tried earlier this year. I hope to have better luck with this lace project.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cooler Weather and Fun in the Kitchen

During the Summer I try to avoid baking as much as possible so I don't heat up the house. Well, the weather has been cooling and I baked some muffins for breakfast last Saturday. Yum! There's nothing like fresh baked bread (of just about any kind...muffins, cakes, bread, cookies, crackers). And, I had an idea...measure out the dry ingredients for muffins into storage containers ahead of time. Then, whenever we want muffins I'll just add the wet ingredients and fruit, and bake. That would make the process a bit quicker and satisfy our morning hunger sooner. So, I bought some new storage containers (reusable and recyclable) this week and today I measured out the dry ingredients so they're ready to go. It'll be fun to try one out this weekend. :-)

I also harvested some Basil today to try freezing into cubes that I'll be able to use over the coming months after the Basil is finished for this year. I harvested a heaping colander full...

Picked off all the good leaves, washed them, washed them again, dried them, and placed them into the food processor...

I added a little bit of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and put it into an ice try...

It was fun and smelled soooooo good! I can't wait to try it to see how well it worked. Fresh Basil is so delicious and we use it a lot during the Summer. I always miss it during the Winter. If it works, this will be great! :-)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Man Socks and a Mystery...

I started knitting my first pair of "man" socks yesterday for my hubby. I'm using some yarn I bought on clearance a few months ago...Moda Dea, Sassy Stripes in a nice combination of dark blues, some brown, and touches of white. I wanted to make my first pair of "man" socks with this less expensive yarn as I work out the sizing for him. Then, I'll progress to a nicer yarn. It's looking like I cast on enough to fit his leg (64 on size 2's). I like how it's looking so far, and so does he. It's a bit thick but they should be nice for wearing around the house on a cold winter day.

I'm still working on my long term projects from time to time. I also sewed curtains for my daughter's room last week. Yesterday I signed up for Mystery Stole 4. I imagine it will be beautiful like the last three. I'm a beginner at lace knitting so I'm not sure how I'll do, but I'm sure I'll learn a lot. I need to go shopping for some yarn and beads so I can get started. The first clue was listed today. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Buggy Transformed

About a year ago my husband decided that he wanted to get an old VW Bug to fix up. He ended up with this 1965 Bug. It was definitely not pretty but it sure was a good candidate for a project!...

He gutted it, cleaned it, did a lot of little detail body work, primed, sanded, sanded, primed again, sanded, and did I say, sanded? I can't believe how much sanding and attention to detail he did on the body. Then, he painted it himself! Wow! He installed rubber insulation for sound dampening. After that I helped him install a new headliner. That was a lot of work and it turned out pretty good. Yay! We re-installed all the windows with new rubber. Whew! That was challenging! He installed new carpet, recovered and installed the backseat, installed new front seats, seat belts, new trim, bumpers, etc., etc. He did way more than I could possibly list. He still has a lot of little things to do on it like painting the wheels, get hub caps, install running boards, etc. But, it's so exciting to see it coming together that I can't wait to show it off for him.

After a year of hard work...lots and lots of elbow's been transformed! This last weekend he started it up and we got to take it for a test run. Wow! It's amazing that this is the same car!

Here's before and after pictures of the engine...

I've got one happy hubby! :-)

I think the transformation is incredible. I also think it's really cool that he got many hours of enjoyment working on it and the end result is a cool little car. It's also a great example of recycling. I love that!