Monday, January 28, 2008

ABC Along

I'm behind in this. This is for Letter A.


Self Portrait Challenge: Celebrations, Week 4

Celebrate tradition.

We had a family birthday last week. One of our traditions over the years has been to have a big birthday dinner at home with the good china and whatever the birthday person wants to eat. We had to discontinue this tradition a few years ago when our living room and dining room were being renovated. We started going to restaurants which was definitely much easier. This last November, Ems decided that she wanted a birthday dinner at home so we hurried to finish up the dining room and unpack all of our china and other family treasures. Thus we are back to our established tradition of dining room dinners. Our dining room is awash with family history: flatware and candlesticks which were wedding gifts to my parents, hurricane lamps which were wedding gifts to my in-laws, grandmas' spaghetti dish and great grandma's platter, portraits of my husband's Italian great grandparents on the wall, and memorabilia from my grandparents' years as missionaries in China. During dinner preparation I always think of my parents and in laws and remember the happy times we shared. I often contemplate how past generations may have celebrated family special days. I also wonder what the future will bring to these celebrations. With my kids moving to distant places, will these dinners become a thing of the past? Will we have grandchildren to add to the mix if they don't? Who knows? In any event, I will continue to treasure these family traditions no matter what form they take.

For more celebration photos, visit the Self Portrait Challenge.

Sick Day #2

Better, but not there yet. I decided to take one more day since my concert is this Wednesday and I need my strength for that. I spent half the night coughing so I ended up sleeping late this morning. I will spend the rest of the day working on the Pea Pod Baby Set. I'm about halfway through the sleeves -- I'm doing both simultaneously. Then the neck band, seams, buttons and hat! I think I can have that done by the weekend!.

I did venture out to Roots yesterday. They had some new chocolate there--Nirvana which is 72% cocoa content--one with blueberries and acai and the other with pomegranate. Does that sound wicked or what! So that's it. I will have more to post about later in the week.

Bushism of the day:
"I'm also not very analytical. You know I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things." —George W. Bush, aboard Air Force One, June 4, 2003

Kitty cam: The kitties have been enjoying the box I brought in from my trip to BJ's last week. All day long, they take turns getting in it with the lizard toy they got for Christmas. Sam's the only one who refused to be photographed in the box!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sick Day

Today is a sick day--literally--which is somewhat of a bummer. Typically I take sick days to go to the doctors' for routine stuff, so I get a portion of the day to play. Also--on rare occasion, I will take a "mental health" day. Fortunately I don't need those too often as I am pretty much on an even keel temperament wise. But sometimes, I just catch myself ready to bite some kid's head off and I know that it's time to rest and regroup. I don't believe that a teacher should ever succumb to that urge. No one has the right to do that. As adults, we should be modeling the behavior we expect of our students! Okay--that's rant #1. This post is a long, leisurely one which may contain various rants so I will attempt to put subtitles in so you, gentle reader, can choose which sections you want to read! So--back to the sick day thing--I have been nursing a weak cold for the last 2 weeks and yesterday I felt rather sick--like I was getting bronchitis. Last night, the fever kicked in and I came home, put on my pj's--the nice warm flannel kitty cat ones that Maddy gave me--and called in for some Chinese which DH pickup up on the way home from work. After all--nothing helps the respiratory system more than a healthy dose of hot and sour soup! Of course we also had Szechuan Beef and Kung Pao Chicken. We love our spicy food at this house! I remember when Bird was little and he had to have everything made mild. We gradually started adding the hot spices until he was used to them. Now he puts hot sauce on everything! Go figure! After dinner, I basically crashed on the couch.

Today I got to watch morning TV. I was delighted to learn that Martha Stewart now has shows On Demand for subscribers to digital cable. So--for all you Martha wannabes--there you go. On another Martha show, she made a bag for a yoga mat. I am so going to do that when my new, improved ultra thick yoga mat arrives here in the next few days! I also spent the morning sipping lattes. I used my new mug and coaster which Cat gave me:

I did go to the doctor's and he said that he thought I basically got a viral thing on top of a cold and gave me some natural therapies to try for 24 hours. If those don't work, then I can take an antibiotic. He prefers not to start with antibiotics as he feels that abuse of those drugs has caused a rise in all the drug resistant bacteria we are seeing. So, I will make friends with my neti pot once again! When going to the pharmacy at Giant, I did pick up these:

These looked really fresh and they are huge! I love pastel roses. I will have to groom my rose garden this spring so I can cut my own roses! I've neglected them over the last few years.

The Mind's Eye

The Mind's Eye! This is what I call the ability to envision things mentally. I've always had this ability and I remember frustrating my mother when I would describe projects to her that I wanted to make. She couldn't picture what I would describe, but I could picture things very clearly. This is the ability that sparks all things creative. The proverbial light bulb goes on and a creation is born. This is one reason I don't buy stash yarn and fabric per se. I have to see something finished before I buy. For example, I went to G-Street last weekend and, as usual, checked the remnant rack. I haven't gotten any remnants lately but I stumbled on this 5/8 yd. piece of silk charmeuse:

The moment I saw this, I pictured a cowl neck halter type top. The picture is so clear in my mind. Now I just have to find a pattern or something similar to use as a springboard for making my own pattern.

This ability to see completed creations comes in handy. Typically, once the creation takes shape in my mind, I plan the steps to making it and gather all that I need. I've learned that the actual work is best saved to the last minute when deadlines are concerned because I stick with the original plan. If I have too much time, I start questioning my original design, often making changes which I end up not liking. I've learned over the years to "go with my gut" so to speak.

It's funny how these mental images can come out of nowhere. I remember when I was in the metals/ jewelry program at MICA and we were told to make 20 sketches of projects to be approved by our instructors. I would go home and pick my brain and nothing! Then I would find myself in a staff meeting at school, with some totally boring speaker, and the light bulb in my brain would be going off nonstop! Strobe lights even! I'd rush home to my sketch book and in a matter of minutes my sketches would all be there!

This ability can also be a curse as well. I went to G Street on a button finding mission to get buttons for the coat that I mentioned in an earlier post. My problem is that I picture something very specific in my mind's eye and of course, what I picture cannot be found. I picture a button covered with black soutache braid with a knot in the middle--something like would've been used in the 1940's. I could make them, but I just don't want to. Well, lo and behold, G Street had something similar--just not in black! I did get the velvet needed for the collar and bound buttonholes. I also picked up these buttons. I don't love them, but they are okay.

After G Street I went to Joanns and found these:

I lean toward the 2nd ones. Any comments on this matter would be welcome!

The Mind's Eye thing also has implications when planning projects with another person who doesn't think the same way. This kicks in when embarking on home decorating projects. DH and I just don't think the same way. When renovating, I picture the finished room. He takes it one step at a time. It can be frustrating when trying to explain to someone why you want something done a certain way. Fortunately, DH is very laid back and pretty much lets me make the decisions here.

Upcoming Projects?

I ended up hitting the pattern counter when I went to Joanns:

I also got a book on using vintage beads and buttons in jewelry. I have a rude amount of antique buttons. I love them and they need to be shown so perhaps jewelry would be the way to go! I need to go back to G Street go get a Kwik Sew pattern for yoga pants. I'm having a hard time finding the ones I like--boot cut petite length. I think making them is the way to go.

I'm also trying to find the right yarn to make the new Zephyr pattern, 28thirty. I picture this sweater made out of a tweed or a kettle dyed yarn. I have some merino from Uruguay that I had bought for another project that I like:

I only have 3 skeins of this which totals 654 yards. The XS size calls for 600 yards and the S size calls for 700 yards. According to the pattern, I should wear the Small, but I've always made XS in Zephyr designs. I'll have to really think this one out because I can't get more of this yarn and I would hate to get the thing almost done and run out of yarn!

On the homefront

Last week was spent undecorating. Like my holiday decorating, this is done in two phases. First we take down the tree and anything else that is only Christmas--Santas, nativities and the like. Snowmen stay up until early March.

If you notice--the snowguys remain on the mantel, some snowy candle rings remain on the table and a little glass snowman peeks up from the roses!

Other homefront news--Bird set the date for his senior recital--April 13. DH and I will go up the night before. We hope to also go to the burgh on President's Day weekend to attend the concert band performance. Maybe we'll get some real snow there!

As I write this, a kitty throwdown is about to occur. Harley, who has always been the biggest wimp, is growling and posturing at Greg, who has always been the biggest bully. This has been going on for the last 10 minutes! Greg is just sitting there! Now he has decided to move toward Harley, who is backing up and still growling. I suspect that fur will be flying any minute!

I realize that I have less than a year to use the wealth of "W" quotes I have left. WoW! I'm still on 2002 which means I have 5 years of unused quotes and, Lord knows, George keeps adding new material on a rather frequent basis.

Bushism of the day:
"I'm the master of low expectations." —George W. Bush, aboard Air Force One, June 4, 2003

Kitty cam:
The big lugs, Mikey and Greg, relax on the couch while Harley takes over the recliner. Sitting in our family room often involves moving a cat!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Just a thought . . .

I see on my Bush countdown that as of today we have less than one year left! Things are looking up! I'm still torn as to who to vote for in the primary--the one I like the most, or the one that has the best chance to win. Decisions, decisions. . .

Self Portrait Challenge: Celebrations, Week 3

Celebrate! No school today!

Today is a federal holiday so there is no school. This is how I have spent the morning--with a latte and the remote control! It is now 10:30 and typically I would be starting my 3rd class of the day! Of course this relaxation is short lived as in a few minutes I will be dragging out the vacuum cleaner. Today is DH's birthday and we will be celebrating that tonight. Now that we have finished renovating the living room and dining room, we have gone back to the big family dinners at home where the honoree gets to choose what he or she wants and Mom prepares it! There won't be many more of these celebrations. Bird is staying in Pittsburgh when school gets out and Ems is moving to Providence so these celebrations will become even more precious as time goes on! As for now, I will savor my latte and my nice, warm flannel pj's on this unusually cold winter day and I will celebrate having some leisure time to myself!

For more photos of how and what people celebrate, go here!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Let it snow!

Finally! We got our first snow of the new year! Not much to speak of, but pretty and white none the less! It started snowing about 10:30 Thursday morning and started coming down really hard. It was hovering around the freezing mark so it was one of those wet, heavy snows that looks really pretty when it's falling. The snow was turning to rain as I left school which kept the accumulation low on the roads. When I got home, I was struck by how pretty it was so I parked the car, got my camera and took these photos:

I stopped at Weis to get some groceries so I could make this:

Nothing like homemade chili or soup when it snows!

I spent the rest of the evening knitting. I'm almost done with the body of the baby sweater. It got a bit difficult to work because Greg decided to get in my lap. Check out how huge he is!

As you can see, I was surrounded!

This weekend I will be taking down Christmas! I hate doing that! That's the only trouble with decorating---undecorating!

Bushism of the day:
"The trial lawyers are very politically powerful. … But here in Texas we took them on and got some good medical — medical malpractice." —George W. Bush, Waco, Texas, Aug. 13, 2002

Kitty cam:
Greg models his new business attire--a shirt collar and a tie!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another day!

This week has been laid back so far. I finally started back at Curves yesterday. I hadn't been since before Christmas and it shows! I need to get back to my Monday-Wednesday-Friday routine. Tomorrow I will get a double dose as I will go to an hour and a half yoga class after Curves! I was supposed to go to yoga today, but had a last minute situation at school which kept me from leaving on time! I ended up going to Target to get some yoga pants and stumbled across the cutest spring jacket! I'm always pleasantly surprised by what turns up at Target. This jacket is a cotton spandex blend and it has details that you would expect in a finer garment--bound buttonholes, piping on the seams, detailed sleeves, pocket flaps, piped belt at that back waist and seams bound with contrasting binding. The list goes on. It fits great and looks really cute with jeans!

They had this a couple of different prints and a solid black. I also did get my yoga pants along with a thin hoody and a long sleeved workout top. That yoga class is on the cool side!

I forgot to show off the patterns I ordered from K Pixie. They are all Tilli Tomas patterns:

The last one is shown in a longer length on the Tilli Tomas website. I think I may make it a point to go to Maryland Sheep and Wool early on Saturday to hit the Tilli Tomas stand. I definitely want to make that one! I love the beaded yarn at the collar and cuffs!

We were teased with a heavy snow shower today. It got dark and snowed like a bitch for about 10 minutes then it all stopped and the sun came out! How utterly cruel is that! This week is really pretty lack luster. I'm just taking it easy. This weekend we will finally take down Christmas. I will still keep my snowguys out. After all, it is still winter!

I'm trying to keep on top of all the democratic debates. I'm still torn as to who to vote for. Since they've moved all the primaries up, I have to decide that much sooner! I just don't get what all the rush is about. Why did they have to move them up? What's the deal with that?

Anyway--speaking of elections, this brings me to my

Bushism of the day:
"See, we love — we love freedom. That's what they didn't understand. They hate things; we love things. They act out of hatred; we don't seek revenge, we seek justice out of love." —George W. Bush, Oklahoma City, Aug. 29, 2002

Kitty cam: The German carousel inspired Bar to roll around on the table!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Self Portrait Challenge: Celebrations, Week 2

Nothing says "Celebrate" quite like a French Martini and a piece of wedding cake!

Here is the cake before it was cut:

Yes--my niece's wedding was quite a celebration!

For more celebration photos, visit the Self Portrait Challange.

One fun weekend!

This weekend was a blast! Friday, I came home from work to finish up my dress and DH suggested we go to Cosi's for dinner. We waited for Bird and Maddy, who were en route from the burgh and agreed to meet them around 8:00. Just as we were walking out the door, Ems and KC pulled up so the six of us had dinner together which is so rare these days! After that, I stayed up rather late and got my dress done. As I always do, I made it much more complicated than it needed to be--I decided to fully line it. I just couldn't see using $60 a yard fabric and skimping on the construction. This dress had an unusual bodice which was designed to look like it is two pieces. I was pleasantly surprised to see how nicely the polyester kept a crease as the dress had pleats at the side, side front and side back seams.

These photos were taken before the final pressing and steaming. I like the vintage rhinestone pin. It fit perfectly at the point on the bodice! Here are a couple of the final product:

Ems came over on Saturday morning and gave Bird a haircut. It made his beard more palatable. He has a bet with one of his buddies that he will grow his beard until graduation in May. He was getting that mountain man look, but the haircut helped him looked more groomed! Nat's wedding was at 3:00 and it was a gorgeous ceremony. The reception was at the Clarendon Ballroom in Arlington which was fabulous. It was an older building with an Art Nouveau sort of look to it--tin ceilings and neat lighting. There was a cocktail party first then a sit down dinner followed by dancing with a live 10 piece band.
I'm sorry I didn't get any photos of Natalie and Jason! They looked so cute! Her dress was elegant and he looked fly in a white jacket! Here are a few photos from the reception:

Ems and Me.

Maddy, Ems and Me.

DH got crazy with Paul on the dance floor!

Bird and Maddy--Please ignore Bird's gesture!

Bird and Maddy when we got home--I think she is holding him up as he lost count of the number of drinks he consumed!

Today I just chilled in my pj's until afternoon. I have a bunch of shows on the DVR to catch up on! I hope to finish the baby sweater within the next two weeks after which I will start Giselle with the SCK knit along.

Bushism of the day:
"Let me tell you my thoughts about tax relief. When your economy is kind of ooching along, it's important to let people have more of their own money." —George W. Bush, Boston, Oct. 4, 2002

Kitty Cam: Mikey play peek-a-boo under the slipcover!