Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Y is for Yucky Yarn

Won't this make a sweaty baby blanket?

Maybe I could make a scarf out of this and it could freeze to my neck.

But it's still in my stash... I want to use it up so that it's not "wasted." Issues I tell ya, issues.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

X is for the "X" through knitted Chrismas gifts that are not finished

I know a bad idea when I say one. "I will make my dad socks and finish my mom's sweater for Christmas." I hadn't even completed those thoughts before I know it wouldn't happen.

I tried to order the rest of the yarn for "Amused," but when I found out that the yarn was backordered until January... well, what's a knitter to do?

I consulted Ann Budd's "Getting Started Knitting Socks" to see what would be required to make men's size 12 socks. I immediately bought something else for my dad.

I don't always enjoy knitting (knotted yarn? tinking back?), but I don't like to get done with something and know I half-assed it.

Take for example, the world's worst felted item: my crochet hook case

I didn't do a gauge swatch, and didn't read any instructions on felting, and eventually this ended up in the garbage.

"Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." - Xenophon

So I bought Christmas gifts and will make the knitted items in good time. And hopefully I'll have some fun doing it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

W is for Washable Wool

I have recently made an Executive Knitting Decision that I will only use washable wool for projects that could come into contact with water and are expected to survive.

As I understand it, superwash wool is chemically treated to alter the scales of the fiber to prevent it from felting. In my mind, "hand knit" and "chemically treated" belong in two separate realms. But this, like unleaded gasoline and caffienated beverages, has become vital in my world.
Both the hat that I crocheted for DeuceDad and the hat I knitted for my dad were washer victims this year. I can't be angry. I know I've ruined my fair share of hand wash items using my washing appliances. They both were more disappointed than I was - apparently the hats were hits.

So they're both getting new ones made of Cascade 220 Superwash:

Using that as a lesson, I've been much more careful about my yarn purchases lately: Plymouth Select worsted, Dream in Color classy, Knit Picks stroll sport, and sock yarns - all beautiful, all wool, or mostly wool, and all washable.

"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes." Oscar Wilde

Monday, December 21, 2009

V is for Variegated

I love variegated yarn and I've added some to my stash recently just as treats to myself. I'll use it too, but you can't deny the pretty.

U is for UFOs

UFOs - Unfinished Objects!

I just have a crazy number of partially done projects in every corner of the house, and my yarn projects are no exception. This is "the afghan" that I started for my Grandma Anne's 90th birthday 2 years ago. I bought a pattern book, about 15 skeins of Red Heart Super Saver, because this thing is a yarn eater and that was the only way I was going to be able to afford to make it, and got to work. I worked feverishly evening after evening until I sat back and realized that I only had 12 inches done... I would never get this thing done for her February birthday. So I abandoned ship and crocheted something quick - which she totally loves!
Why am I hanging on to this UFO I don't intend to finish? No good reason. Maybe it's time to toss it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Birthday Presents for Moi

I did a little lunch-break yarn shopping and got some birthday presents.

This is some Plymouth Select Superwash Worsted that is fairly new and very fab. It's very tightly plied and springy. I bought it for heavy socks for DeuceDad but then I remembered some extra-nice sock yarn I just bought for him... decisions decisions.

Okay, this loud mess is going to become 2 Summerlin's for my friends twin baby girls. I'm going to do a 3-6 month size so they'll be small. I loved the vibrant things some Ravelry users had done, so this is *L*oud.

And this, is mittens in the making. It's Dream in Color Classy (yes, cheesiest yarn name ever) in Ruby River. Love. They will coordinate with my fav cowl from Carly last year, and it's just a great big hank of awesome.

And I know DeuceDad got me too many presents, AND I'm going to see the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra's Holiday Pops! What a birthday!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Let's Talk About My Birthday

This Sunday is my birthday. Most years I have a significant crisis around my birthday regarding my lack of accomplishments in the previous year, or the greatness of the previous year and the bleak outlook for the rest of my life.

Yep, Crazy Town.

DeuceDad is gearing up for a major crisis this year, because I'm turning 29. He is helping by reminding me that 29 is almost halfway to 60. He is a lunatic and driving me to the brink of insanity with his moral support.

That said I am a scant 370 days from turning numbers-that-start-with-3 (after which the apocalypse occurs? I'm not really sure). It's time to move 30 Before 30 to the front burner!

I started my "bucket list"* in March 2008, so going on two years ago, and haven't made a ton of progress. I did reread my posts though, and I'm proud of my perspective. I think the idea of making the most of my 20s is a good one, and I've spent some time acknowledging my accomplishments. I'm not sure I've dreamed a lot of big dreams either, but instead identified some things that I want to do to consider my life whole and successful.

Of course, this is my personal definition. There are definitely some short putts on there (flying a kite? Seriously, never done it before this year). But they are things that I think will be fulfilling to me.

Something I would like to do is to identify some kind of must-do thing to kick off my 30s. I'm certainly open to suggestions, and luckily I have over a year to think about it!

So head over and check it out. I'll be updating and posting there as the year goes on.

* Please note: I do not intend to kick the bucket at 30

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Saturday 5

I follow this really cool blog called 5 Things, and it really is fun to read all random 5-item lists.

It also inspires me to have a cohesive thought for once.

So here's 5 for a Saturday - 5 ways not to waste my Saturday

1. Get up early

I love sleeping. More than any other activity, bar none. That said, I can get so much done in those first couple of hours.

2. Do something with the family

Today's pick was breakfast with Santa!

3. Have a treat

Luckily the house is ridiculously stocked with Christmas cookies!

4. Spend some time by myself

Still on October issue of Creating Keepsakes and haven't run out of inspiration yet!

5. Keep the evening free

There's no hard and fast rule that I always want to go out on Saturday night. Friday night - I always want to go out. But Saturday, I like to not make any plans and go where the night takes us. Maybe making cookies, maybe Christmas shopping, maybe rent a movie, who knows!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Updates and thanks Jen!

I have Jen from Our Journey to thank for the cute blog facelift - she showed me The Cutest Blog on the Block, and their designs are super cute!

Also, I wanted to quickly follow up on the car seat search:

We bought the Graco Nautilus, in Wilkes - tres chic for the truck!

I have to say that I like this seat a lot more than the Britax Marathon. It's more 30-month friendly - it sits up straighter (although it can recline), has arm rests and a cup holder, and the straps extremely easy to adjust. Specifically, the buckle that the two arm straps goes into is better. Each side clicks in separately - on the Marathon you have to get both buckle pieces in before it will click, which has caused problems for us.

Picture of the dudes in the truck forthcoming...

So much other news, but break time's over! Mommy's on the clock!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The pre-Christmas toy purge

I'm just picking up where I left off... hope you don't mind :D

There comes a time in the life of every mom when she wants to start shouting "ENOUGH WITH THE TOYS ALREADY" and bulldozer everything into a dumpster. I've been fighting this urge a number of ways.

First I removed all the toys from the living room. There can be toys in Deuce's room, and toys in the family room, bu toy storage in the living room too was just pushing it a little. That really helped because at least I can open the front door without kicking Mr. Potato Head aside.

Then I was rotating the toys, half in the basement, half in the family room at about 2 week intervals. That lasted about 1 rotation before Deuce figured me out and would just come downstairs and get what he wanted, tossing everything else over his shoulder throughout the basement.

Over the summer I set up some baskets and boxes with pictures on them to help Deuce sort his toys - trucks, music, play food, blocks... and I got to thinking about when I bought this one enormous basket we have and I thought (so sweetly naive) "I'll keep all Deuce's toys in here." Ha. We're up to 3 baskets, a toy shopping cart, the blocks wagon and 3 diaper boxes. And then there are the free standing toys.

While packing for our Thanksgiving trip to the ILs, I approached the toy pile to choose some things to take with us. I vetoed anything with 100 small parts immediately (toy food, megablocks, Potato Head), grabbed some books and art stuff, and then... what does Deuce play with? Some trucks. Um... Yeah. That's about it. He's outgrown most everything he has. He uses the toys still, mostly to cram the parts into other toys, or throw things into boxes like free throw practice.

I spent some time this morning boxing things up and putting them away. I doubt he'll miss any of it. But putting away the stacking rings and the linkados I feel like I'm packing up his toddlerhood. For Christmas he's getting a train set (the brio one, not even the Geotrax), art stuff, sports stuff, games... not so much primary colored plastic as in past years.

I hear him moving upstairs, time to get him up. Let's see if he notices half his toys are gone!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Where I'll be for the next 2 months

In front of the television, furiously knitting gifts and watching CHRISTMAS SHOWS!

This year I'm embracing Christmas before Thanksgiving. Reason number one is that I don't want to do the crazy gift buying insanity that I usually do.

Reason number two is that I always miss my favorite cheesy Christmas specials because they're on so early. Not this year - I found this list of all the shows, dates and channels!

I actually printing that thing out and have it upstairs so I can set the DVR every week.

What's this gift knitting I speak of? Well there's the sweater for my mom that I've been procrastinating on. It would be a nice gift, packaged with a camisole... I already spent a bunch of money on the yarn so that would ease some yarn buying guilt too. My dad wants socks (not at all sure I can knit mens size 12s in 5 weeks... boo. I also have pet presents to finish up. I'll have a couple of opportunities to knit for 3 hours straight on car rides, so that should help.

Oh and being glued to the TV.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

T is for Tink which is knit spelled backwards

I've been doing some tinkering around on the celebratory socks. Several of the patterns I have picked out have been regretably small for my feet/calves. Regretably. After a gauge swatch, one cast on and several printed out patterns, I think I'm going to check Ann Budd's Getting Started Knitting Socks back out of the library. I checked this out and scanned it when I started learning to knit and if I remember what I read, she tells how to take measurements and adjust the pattern to fit. The funny thing is that I will probably still have these socks cast on before I have a start date...

Okay and since this is a photo challenge, here's a pic of my sweater and bootie gift set recipient modelling the goods!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

S is for Special

Malabrigo Sock in Archangel, being wound for my congratulatory job socks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

R is for Retrospective

This is off my theme of being fiber-related, but on my theme for catching up!

One year ago today, I lost my job, for the second time in a year. I lost a big part of my identity that day, as a working mom, a software engineer, a career woman. Day after day, Deuce reminded me that the biggest, happiest, most rewarding part of my life is motherhood.

Today, we did the same things we were doing this time last year - children's museum, playground, playing in the leaves. We hugged and high-fived. I marveled at his intelligence, cuteness, constant motion... that he was part of me, that I am part of him, that he loves me despite my failure to hold down a job, despite the anxiety, despite the disappointment.

DeuceDad was there too, supporting me and teasing me through the best and worst moments of the last year, always reminding me that we have a happy marriage and a beautiful son.

I feel such a sense of relief knowing that many of our troubles will be behind us in a few weeks. Soon I'll be busy 9-5 and bringing home the bacon again, questioning my decision to work outside the home, ordering pizza and getting up early again. I need to remember the gifts - the last year I've had to share Deuce's every moment, the fact that I have him and his loving father, this job that could be everything I've been looking for. These are all gifts in my life. I can't be a SAHM and a WOHM at the same time, but I've had the opportunity to do both, and I've enjoyed it.

In retrospect, this year has been the best I've ever had. I was able to do something I never thought I could do, and I'm stronger and better for it. But I'm ready for my next move, knowing I'll have amazing people by my side.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Car Seat Shopping, and oh by the way I got my job

Let me start off by saying I GOT THE JOB!!!! I'm really ecstatic - and totally in planning mode.

Among the things on my list to prepare for my return to work is get a second car seat. We've always just had one, but DeuceDad and I are going to stagger our schedules so Deuce's day at daycare is shorter than a full work day, so that means two seats.

I did a lot of research when buying Deuce's infant seat, and settled on a Graco Snugride, even after reading the flawed side-impact crash testing results. His model isn't produced anymore, and we don't have his anymore because it was in an car accident.

As an aside, it is very important to destroy an car seat after a "moderate or severe crash", because its strength may have been compromised. The seat should be destroyed by cutting all the straps, making it unusable. In our case, our insurance company reimbursed the cost of the seat, and needed a photograph of the cut straps as proof that the seat would not be reused.

After the accident, we bought a Britax Marathon based on word of mouth recommendations. We have been very happy with the seat as far as comfort and ease of use. It actually is rated at 3 of 5 stars on the NHTSA ratings (see links below), which I was shocked to read because we really like it.

This time around, I would like to pay a little less if possible, and I need to know if there is another level of seat that we will be able to use longer than the Marathon as he grows.

My search for child seat safety laws didn't yield anything particularly helpful - I tend to err on the side of caution and the laws are a bare minimum. I decided I would use the 2009 Child Safety Seat Ease of Use Ratings, published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to get a list of possibilities for comparison.

I scanned down the list for seats with 5-point harnesses, a weight range that included Deuce's current weight, and went up to 65lbs or above (so at least as much as the Marathon), and earned at least 4 stars in the NHTSA rating in both forward-facing, and booster set-ups if applicable.

Here's my list and how I narrowed it down further:

Cosco Traveler
I could only find this for sale online, and I want to be able to try installing it in the truck before we buy, so this is off my list.

Eddie Bauer Deluxe 3-in-1
Toys R Us $190 This looks really comfy and has a cupholder which is cute to me. This is staying on the list, but we'd need to put it in the truck to see if it fits.

Graco Nautilus
Toys R Us $180 Goes from carseat to high back booster to seatbelt positioning booster and weight up to 100 lbs. This is the highest weight rating in this price range, so to me that's a good value

Jane Indy Plus
Found online only. Again, want to be able to test it out.

The First Years True Fit
Target $180/Toys R Us $190 The manufacturer's website description doesn't have an option to compare to the next model up. I guess this doesn't have the uber-safety bar that the premiere has. It's also $100 less.

The First Years True Fit Premiere (The only seat rated 5)
Amazon $265 Pricey, but top rated. I struggle to justify spending less on safety, but... I just don't think this is reasonable for us right now. (Yes, these words coming from the mouth of a Britax owner. How times have changed.)

Based on this, we have 3 models to test out - The EB, the Graco and the less expensive First Years. The deciding factors will be (in order)
  1. does it fit in the truck
  2. how comfortable is Deuce in it
  3. how easily do the straps adjust (primarily tightening the harness, but also adjusting the height)
  4. how easy is it to install/remove
  5. how to remove the cover for laundering
Stay tuned for part 2 when we have a winner!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In other news...

I have a second interview for a job today. In 1 hour and 48 minutes to be exact. I am so nervous, but going for "cool, calm and collected" on the exterior.

I am just dying to talk about this job and the possibility that it requires a - dare I say it - move (eek!), but I'm trying not to think about any of the implications besides what is required of me today, which is showing up, looking professional, acting confident...

... and describing what I'm looking for in a job so that they can make sure they're placing the right candidate in the right position.

I'll tell you what I'm looking for. A PAYCHECK!

Not to put too fine of a point on it.

11 months ago I was all about finding the perfect job for me, a career position that would give me all the challenges I need to keep my interest with all the responsibilities that I'm good at, great benefits and work life balance.

This job has both. This job is what I've been looking for all year long, and it's so close. I got very encouraging feedback from one of the interviewers who seems to be the main decision maker, and obviously I was selected for a second interview - third if you count the phone screening. I am as confident as I can be considering I've come this far before and had the job go to someone else, or get closed out due to budget concerns.

I'm putting this out here now, 1 hour and 42 minutes before the interview starts because I'm not sure what I'm going to do if this thing falls through. I mean, I know what I'll do. Come home, make dinner, keep applying to jobs, eventually find something. But this! This is the one! And I think if it doesn't come to fruition I'm going to need to vent a little bit.

I have done all my preparations, and it's time to get dressed. I'm ready to make this happen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Q is for Quantity

My stash contains vast quantities of kitchen cotton, including, but not limited to, this huge skeins of Sugar 'n Cream!
I mean, I like knitted dishcloths, but this is ridiculous.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

P is for Photos

I love looking at Ravelry user's FO photos, but I'm not great at posting photos of my own projects. I really like an action shot, and I guess I just rarely remember to do it. So after finishing the Econo-Shopper bag about 2 years ago, I finally snapped a pic of it!

It came out with very long handles, that stretched slightly after putting items in the bag. Initially I planned to make another one with shorter handles, but that just never came to be. I did try machine washing and drying it (it's 100% cotton), which cleaned it up nicely but didn't really shrink the handles.

But then I found that the design is good for something after all - hooking over the stroller handle! Word to the wise - don't put a watermelon and a winter squash in there with it on the stroller. Turns out you can tip your stroller, even with your solidly built 2 year old in it. Darn physics. I was right there though, so no 2 year olds were harmed.

Anyhow, this is just a cell phone picture, but it's a picture, and definitely something I need to work on doing more of!

Monday, October 12, 2009

O is for Old Yarn

"Old yarn" is kind of pushing it, but I need to get caught up, so I'm using it.

I bought this Noro Kureyon over a year ago. I bought 3 skeins online and was so excited to use it for some kind of a project that would really show off the color changes. I first crocheted it into a Rook Hat. Mine was a bust. I tried the scarf too, but I was kind of sick of it, so I ripped the whole thing out.

The yarn just sat in myself for a year and then finally I decided to just make a pattern that over 9000 others have made - Calorimetry! Finally got to use up some old yarn!

Please excuse this shot of my second chin...

I actually knit this on sz 5s because a lot of people commented that it came out wider than they thought it would. Even on the smaller needles it came out really wide, wider than it seems to look on the pattern model. Oh well, it's warm and I think it was a good use for some old yarn.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Scrappin'

It's been slow going, but all my getting ready to scrap this fall preparation is finally paying off! I have had my 4th of July pictures printed for a month, and the page layout drawn and journaling written for 2 weeks, and today I finally did the deed!

The background is plain cardstock with the swirls stenciled on. The 4 is chipboard I covered in paper. I think it moves pretty well visually considering there are a lot of pictures on there. I do see one blank spot that I have just the perfect embellishment for... maybe the cat's sleeping on it.

I also finished a layout I’ve been working on for literally weeks. It came together over about 2 weeks of just leaving it out on my table and sketching out different stuff. It was near done, but I wanted one last thing – an admission sticker from the children’s museum. I know we’ve had dozens of them, I just didn’t happen to have one on hand. Deuce often takes them off and sticks them different places or crumples them, but I finally managed to grab one in decent condition.

Phew, now I finally have "Eight days a week" out of my head!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What I hate about Sundays

There was this country song that was popular some years back "What I Love About Sundays." Sundays are very lovely for some, I'm sure, but I hate them.

This morning I woke up early (blah) to my messy house (who cleans on Saturday night?) needing to let the dog out (DeuceDad out of town), then wrangle crabby toddler into dry diaper (dog barking to be let in) while hopping around with legs crossed (peepee dance) until I get a chance to relieve myself (easier to suffer than clean up everyone else's puddles).

The middle part of the day was fine - church, fire department open house, where Deuce sat in each of 6 emergency vehicles twice, lunch. Then Deuce wouldn't nap, but I think we've covered that here. I decided he needed quiet time, at which point he destroyed his bedroom. So we picked that up, and now he's watching 1 hour of TV while I rot my brain on the internet instead of doing anything productive.

But now, it's Sunday night. There's no where to go, I don't want to cook, and definitely don't want to make any messes. Deuce won't nap or watch football, I don't have anything great OTN. I could scrap, but there's a pile of filing on my table... who files on Sunday night?

Every Sunday night is like this. If it's not just me here being bored, then its DeuceDad and I each bored and trying to pawn Deuce off on the other one (an adult can only play play-doh for just so long).

I've tried making social plans for Sunday nights, but the rest of the world "values" their "family time" and "likes" to spend a "quiet evening" "together". (air quote that!)

I think we'll wander Super Target and get Chinese takeout. Those places don't care that it's Sunday. Then I can make a scrapbook page about Play-doh with authentic fingerprints on it. Win-win.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Follow up phone call - Check!

Waiting to hear back on this most recent job lead is getting tough. According to the interviewers, they were hoping to finish first interviews this week and contact people next week about second interviews, if not their decision.

I decided Monday that I should contact them again, as I was one of the first interviews.

On Tuesday I tried to write an email but deleted it.

On Wednesday, my mother (an HR Director) suggested a quick phone call.

On Thursday Robbie didn't nap, and I had decided I would make this call during his nap.

It is now Friday at 2:30 and I just made this phone call. I got voice mail. I left a message.


I have so much anxiety over this job it's not even funny. I WANT it. I'm trying very hard not to WANT it or THINK about it because if I don't get it I am going to have to MOVE ON. And I will. We've made this work for a year, there's no reason to panic. But I LIKE this job. I like the project. I like the people. I like the location. I like the benefits. I don't know about the pay, but the vacation... government employee vacation is scandelous compared to the private sector.

DeuceDad and I have held our heads high and weathered going on a year of my unemployment. And we've had some storms during that time. We haven't suffered any catastrophies, but we haven't caught any breaks. I need this break. We need this break.

It's pouring rain outside, and that's how I feel - like I'm stuck outside in the cold and pouring rain. It won't hurt me, but I can't stand it forever.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Taking my mojo outside

After the rain and high winds we had in our area over the last several days, my yard needed some attention. I'm kind of into the barely-kempt au natural look for my yard, but the amount of sticks and toys were kind of pushing it.

Last fall I wasn't able to get all the leaves cleaned up before the snow fell. This was partly due to my sciatic nerve problem flaring up (twisting and raking will do that), and party due to Deuce constantly wandering off into whatever part of the yard/neighborhood I wasn't working in.

The result of having a carpet of leaves until the ground dried out in spring is that we set ourselves back significantly in our quest to grow grass. A couple of areas where real piles had sat were totally dead. We made a lot of progress on the lawn, so this fall I'm starting early and trying to keep ahead of the work.

This year I also have the fence on my side, plus Deuce and I spent the whole summer gardening so he knows we can make a game of working outside together. The back pain - well, that's just a fact of my life until I get my bionic spine implant.

The beech tree has already lost half it's leaves, and Deuce and I managed to get all those leaves raked, plus the sticks and branches that fell from the wind. Just to put my finishing touch , I'm going to air the dog bed on the clothes line. Who needs picturesque - we're going for "lived in."

Friday, September 25, 2009

That New Stuff State of Mind

In the year that I have been out of work and home with Deuce, our fixer-upper house has gone unfixed, for the most part. With the notable exceptions of the fence and the guest room (the latter of which I did for under $50), DeuceDad and I put our home improvement plans on hold.

There are things around the house the DeuceDad and I each can't stand, but we're living with it in the name of financial responsibility. DeuceDad hates out kitchen with the fire of 1,000 suns. The carpet and wall colors in the office sap all my creative energy.

What I really can't stand isn't the lack of floor molding - it's the broken things. The fridge door doesn't stay closed. I broke the handle off my washer. One of the burners on the stove doesn't light. I was plotting a coup in which I order new appliances and deal with the payments later (somehow). But then my cell phone broke, which actually changed things for the better.

I knew I couldn't call customer service and act like a reasonable human being. DeuceDad generously offered to call AT&T and try to get a replacement - and he succeeded! No yelling required! New phone was set to arrive on Friday, and life would be restored to normal. It was almost too easy.

Wednesday was a little hectic, and when I came home to some destruction in the garage from the dog I decided I needed to tackle some of the things that had been driving me nuts.

I ordered a new knob for my washer. I rented a carpet cleaner and cleaned the filthy carpet in the family room and our dog-smelling couches. I cleaned some kind of sediment off the innards of the stove burner so the igniter works. My cell phone arrived and I synced it - although I need to reenter all my contacts (argh). In the period of a few hours I resolved a lot of things that had been bothering me without spending much money.

The temptation to get new stuff was so great - I like to have nice things as much as the next person. But a little research and elbow grease did the trick for now, and I'm really proud of what I was able to do.

I used:
Taylor Rental
Sears Parts Direct
Palm Support
Yahoo Answers
And my own two hands!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Running Vicariously

Last weekend I stood near the finish line cheering on my best friend as she crossed the finish line on her first 5K. I had the camera, and Deuce and I had maracas and we cheered our hearts out for her as she came in just under 30 minutes, her goal time.

That should have been me. I should have been out there with her, panting, sweating and victorious.

The frustrating part is that this time I actually intended to do it, and I tried until I just couldn't take the pain from the heel spur/plantar faciitis any more. I freely admit that in the past I quit. I quit exercising as soon as it got hard, or I got bored, or had something better to do, or wanted to sleep in. But this one time, when I was really committed, something took me out of the game before I was really in it.

But you know what? That wasn't me. It was her, and she worked her butt off to accomplish this. And I was so happy and proud when she crossed that finish line. I had G2 and nutrigrain bars packed, took pictures of her and her running partner, and gave her all the sweaty hugs that I know she needed after putting her all into something.

I felt so much excitement and pride at her accomplishment that I forgot all about the fact that I was on the sidelines. Her happiness adds to my life and does not diminish it.

That's the thing about having a 14-year friendship with someone - you share their joy and pain. In this case I had only the joy and none of the sore muscles, so it really worked out for everyone.

Next year, maybe next year that will be me. Until that time comes though, I will keep cheering for my friend, keep healing, keep dreaming.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

And the award for best blog title goes to...

Where Am I Going and Why Am I In This Handbasket?

A question I ask myself conservatively 58 times/day. MamaTulip is a really funny lady. I had bookmarked her, but she didn't make it into my feedreader for some reason, blah blah, check her out though, it's good stuff.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cutting up a whole chicken: file under "not worth it"

In my ongoing efforts to save money*, I bought a whole chicken to cut up at home. The intention being that I would get the chicken pieces I wanted, plus extra meat and the bones to make chicken soup with, and pay LOW LOW PRICES! I saved $0.50 per pound, which on a 7 lb chicken, added up to a $3.50 SAVINGS!

I have cut up cooked whole chickens before, so I applied the same principles. Cut through the meat to the joints, knife into the joint, crack. Remove the extremities, then separate breasts along breast bone. Okay, now imagine cutting up that lovely smelling hot roast chicken if it was ice cold and slimy. Not cool, dudes! That 7 lb bastard slid thisaway and thataway all over my counter until I had successfully butchered it, and not myself. Mission accomplished.

Over my ziplock bag of broth fixin's and bowl of parts soaking in buttermilk, I considered whether it was worth it. My verdict is no. You can't put a pricetag on having someone else pull the kidneys (testicles? spleen?) out of a raw chicken for you.

Next time at the grocery store I will gladly pay more for cut up chicken.

*by save money I mean pay less for essentials so I can still do stuff like have my cell phone and buy craft supplies.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


You can shut a toddler is his room, but you can't make him nap.

I heard footsteps upstairs a few minutes after I put Deuce down for his nap, and this is what I opened the door to.
This is no surprise. A couple of times a week, Deuce refused to nap despite all my best efforts. And I think it's okay for 2's and 3's to just rest in the afternoon for a while even if they don't sleep. But as you can see by the state of his room, no resting was going on.

I have a haircut tonight, so DeuceDad's going to have fu-un with him tonight.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I. feel. horrible.

Next time I want to eat all my meals 'on the run' remind me that I have a weak stomach. Please.

Today I injested two cups of coffee, a bacon egg and cheese biscuit, hash brown and iced coffee from McHell, followed by a large cone of cinnamon almonds and a diet coke from a fair. To top it off? Baked chocolate chip cookies. And ate some batter.

Pass the pepto, dudes.

I can't believe Deuce is still standing. He ate almost a whole bag of cheddar goldfish, some apple juice and grapes for the whole day. I guess one day of him not getting his 5 fruits and veggies won't kill him, but I'm a goner.

Monday, August 24, 2009

1, 2, 3... Scrap!

Labor Day is just around the corner. That means fall, cooler weather, and scrapbooking! To be fair, just about everything means scrapbooking to me, but I mean organized scrapbooking with other people. Here is my plan for productive scrapping:

Pictures! I typically work photos-first or story-first, but to me scrapbooks ain't nothin' without the pics. So it's time to get organized. First, I'm going to move the unscrapped photos from Deuce's first year and sort them into my file box. I'm satisfied that I've scrapped every event from the chronological collection, and I also want to free up the binder they're in. Then I'm going to upload and order all the event photos from last year that got lost in the mix, including those from Facebook, other people's cameras, and cell phone pics (cell pics I might just print at home). I put those into my 3-up photo binders. Any Simple Scrapbookers or Stacy Julian fans will recognize this as a loose interpretation of Stacy's Library of Memories (I have her book Photo Freedom and lurve it).

Stuff! I also love to keep the scrap in scrapbooking, but I tend to lose the scraps along the way... I found a nice box to keep scraps in, so I need to move some things from the junk pile on the desk to there. That box can also serve as inspiration when I'm in need.

Projects! Some scraps are for specific albums, for example, our California trip/BIL & SIL's wedding, and my garden notebook. I have file pockets with little tags to collect scraps, photos, layout ideas, paper, journaling and embellishments together until I get everything I want (and time to work). I need to look through my product to see if I have all I need to complete a project or should be looking for something specific.

Products! I feel pretty confident that I have most of the products I need to make the pages I want to make. But I might take some time to reset some of my organization from winter.

Ideas! My idea book has paper with sketches messily tossed in it (like, not even clipped into the binder), so I need to sort that out some. I would also like to sketch some of my fav pages to try and use some of my designs again.

Stories! My journalling books are all missing. I'm sure they're around here somewhere... the idea to keep journalling notebooks around at all times to capture thoughts an moments has not worked for me since about a year ago when implemented. Need to research online for a better solution.

Computer! I need to pick either Windows Photo Gallery or Picasa to store and tag my pictures because I'm lost. I know I organized some things in one place and other things elsewhere. I definitely like Picasa for editing, but I think I'm staying w/ Photo Gallery. I like their tags better. That said, I need to back this shiznit up. I'm screwed if this computer goes up in flames.

Destash! I'm hosting a swap in 2 weeks, so I need to go through my piles to see what I can swap with other people. I have a stack of swap stuff from when I cleaned the office - 8 months ago!! It's time to get rid of it.

In the meantime, I'm scraplifting this. No sense doing all this organization for nothing!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We return, broken, dirty and damp

We spent the last 5 days visiting with old friends upstate where we used to live, visiting with my in-laws, and enjoying a festival that DeuceDad has participated his entire life.

Let's rehash the good before delving in to the aftermath. Deuce was so well behaved, I'm very proud of him. Our first stop was at the home of friends with a 7 week old baby. Deuce wasn't jealous at all when I held her and managed to leave their dog and 2 cats alone enough at least to not make anyone hiss or growl. Way to respect other peoples' homes! We had dinner, wine the husband makes, and rootbeer floats, and compare some of those early parenthood moments. (i.e. "Is he/she ever going to stop crying" and "I have the feeling back in my nether regions"). They love to watch Deuce run around and imagine themselves 2 years into the future!

Then the drive to the ILs, and the moment I walked in the door another BFF called and told me her baby she's pregnant with has Downs syndrome and 2 other health problems that have been identified. I spend the next 2 hours crying on the phone with her, then an hour crying while DeuceDad and I discussed (again) what we though we might feel in that situation. It's tough to know what to do as a friend (call, don't call...) but I'm going to keep calling her until she tells me to quit. Let me tell you I held Deuce tight as I could and thanked God for the gift of him.

After a crappy night's sleep, we headed to "the city" for an ill advised shopping trip. I needed one thing, but couldn't find it at the local WalMart. So I though I had to drive almost an hour to "the city." Turns out, I could have gotten this item at the Farmer's Coop. I though that was where you bought chicken feed or something, but I guess it's a real store. Live and learn.

Next day it was off for a friend's house. We wanted to go to the beach, but it was raining. She suggested we take the kids to a McDonald's PlayPlace. I had never been to one, but I was really concerned for her sanity when she said that. I respect this woman, but... really? It actually was nice. It was newly built, and was mostly a huge padded climber with a slide. The boys had a great time and we got to relax and chat. I knew she was a smart cookie!

Another day, another drive, this time to the Thousand Islands area. We sat around at our friends' boating club and watched their 3 year old and Deuce play in the sand and the water. Deuce has really picked up on how to play with other children, and I love watching it. We talked, gossiped and laughed, and had a great morning. I got to watch their 2 girls for a few minutes while they left for a wedding and their babysitter was on her way over. I never plan to have a 3YO, 2YO and 7MO at the same time - they were well behaved, but I needed to be in 2 places at once for sure.

Today we watched DeuceDad and Grandpa do their lumberjack show (sooo fun - I'll take some video next time I'm at one), ate some fair food, and jumped in the car.

After all that, I, my dog, and my possessions are the worse for wear. Deuce and DeuceDad are tired, but not visibly damaged in any way. Everything is covered in sand, horse stall funk and dampness from the humidity, and I am tired, bug bitten, pinched and sick to death of being in the car. I drove our family car a minimum of 3 hours every day, much of it on the same stretch of country road, avoiding construction and the Amish and trying to make up time.

In the mean time, 3 of the measly 4 bras I own gave up the ghost and now have wires sticking out of them, stabbing or poking me in the side. What's up with that? They get a lot of use because they each get worn twice a week (more of less, don't nitpick the math), but why did they all have to go at the same time? The one I was wearing today literally snapped in half on one side and pinched me all the way home. I probably could have pulled over on the interstate and removed it, but one more instant in the car and I would have keeled over.

I'm in recovery mode. The car is sort of unpacked, except for the floor in the backseat, which has apple juice spilled all over it and I need to psych myself up for tackling that mess. The dog bed and dog himself are washed and drying. MIL does most of the wash, so that's no sweat, but the 2 giant duffles are going to take a few minutes. And I should consider what I'm feeding my son tonight. The time is fast approaching and I'm NOT going to the grocery store. Hopefully we have cereal.

Oh, and I have no pictures because I forgot the camera. I took a couple with MIL's camera, but didn't upload anything.

So my souveniers consist of my own crap, but dirtier. And memories made with good friends.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Love is...

... picking a flower from the yard and offering it to your mommy.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

N is for New hobby

I just can't get enough knitting. I'm doing mostly small projects because there are lots of pregnant ladies in my life! This is the umbilical cord hat from Stitch 'n Bitch...

This is a little hat pattern that I found on Ravelry. I plan to make a larger one for Deuce because I like the alternating cables and ribs. He's clearly larger than the infant size modeled here...

I haven't really had the urge to crochet anything lately, although I have a pattern and yarn waiting in the wings for something for me. Just the excitement of something new I guess!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

big boy bed

The first night in the toddler bed, or "big boy bed" as we've been calling it, was a huge success! Deuce is still sleeping now! I wasn't actually home to put him down for the night in it, but I'm so proud of him, and very saddened that he's growing up so quickly.

I squirreled away the checks he got for his birthday, and I'm going to Target today to get the Cars "Cruisin' in Style" bed set. I really pushed for the much cuter transportation themed one, but it's his bed and I let him pick. Very opinionated.

I'm surprised how easy the transition was because we didn't actually do anything to prepare him. We talked about it, and then we took off the crib side and put on the side rail and just let him get in and out... if only potty training could be that easy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

File under Fun

Our day at Seabreeze was great!
I don't have a lot of tips to share, just pictures of Deuce!

Deuce went on his first solo amusement park ride. I was horribly nervous, but there were lots of other somewhat respectable looking adults putting their beloved children on the rides, and there were no chaulk outlines on the surrounding area, so... on he went!

He drove a T-bird (this is the beginning of the ride, so he looks a little nervous)

after the first loop he has his groove

These boats were adorable until the ride stopped and he stood up and tried to get off by himself - on the water side! No harm done.
He went on twice

And this is a tiny little roller coaster. I'm glad he went on with this slightly older little girl, because as soon as she started laughing, the worried look left his face and he laughed hysterically at her.

We also enjoyed the carousel and DeuceDad's company picnic before we went over the water rides. We had carried our two bags through the park but we did finally get the lockers when we went into the water park. They are tiny, but reasonably priced.
I have to compliment the changing/restroom facilities. I usually HATE public restrooms and I remember the changing areas smelling like someone had peed in the curtained spots. But this was really clean. It's airy, spacious bright, with no dripping water or mystery puddles.
We took Deuce to the kids spray area and found 3 little waterslides. They're the size of playground slides but with water running down them. They were a huge hit - Deuce did one of the slides literally dozens of times. That gave us a chance to trade off and do a big people waterslide. So fun! I would have loved to have a waterproof camera for the afternoon.
Then we went on the Lazy River, where you float around this loop - it was so relaxing and Deuce did a good job staying on my lab on my tube. There are waterfalls, and I did my best to keep us out of them, but we went under one and Deuce cried hysterically! Poor man!
Then we changed up, enjoyed some fried dough and the train, and took Deuce home for a long overdue nap.
My concerns over our baggage ended up being no problem at all. It's such a small park that you can lock up your stuff and go back to it over the course of the day without really trekking all over.
The diaper question wasn't answered until we got into the kids area itself. The sign said to use a swim diaper covered with rubber pants (available for purchase). We let Deuce go au natural. I'm sure I would have freaked about that in pre-parenting days, but judging by the look of the bottoms of the other children, he wasn't the only one without protection. Plus the possibility (likelyhood?) of adults peeing in the adult rides grosses me out way more than some baby pee.
So that was our day - it was a lot of fun, very relaxing and we're hoping to go back!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Amusement Park Prep

Today is DeuceDad's company picnic at Seabreeze! Seabreeze is a small local amusement park, and it's lots of fun. It's definitely wimpy compared to Six Flags or Busch Gardens, but it's close and inexpensive and fun.

I have a few things I'm not sure about, so tomorrow I'll hopefully have some 'how to survive an amusement park with a 2 year old in diapers' tips. My main concerns are my camera (would LOVE to bring the big boy but afraid it will get wet or stolen), and the water slides (are swim diapers allowed? are we going to get E coli?). We brought Deuce last year, but didn't do the water park, and someone stood with the stroller the whole time.

I did get some tips from a local moms website, RocMoms.com. I'm sure every area has something similar, and it's a great resource for local info from a parent's perspective. I found RocMoms from the newspaper's website, so look around.

I'm off to pack a bag - wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Since I've been out of work, I'm trying to spend more carefully. I'm doing my best to live by the motto
Use it up,
wear it out,
make it do
or do without.

I am doing a pretty good job going from a person who, within reason, buys what I want when I want it, to a budget-conscious if not frugal shopper.

Some of my successes are the outdoor plants that I got from the clearance section of the garden store. $74 of plants bought for $28 because they came without guarantees. I guess the discounts only get better as the season goes on and stores don't want to winter plants over.

And how about face products - I haven't bought face wash or lotion in 3 years! Yes, that's before Deuce was born. I used to sell Mary Kay, so I did have a stock pile. But I'm also using up a lot of tinted moisturizers and other things that I buy new seasonally. I have thrown a lot of things away that have turned, particularly Clinique things that I have had since before I started selling Mary Kay. But at $20 or $25 a pop, every time I find a tube of something I feel like there's money in my pocket.

Of course it just wouldn't be me if I didn't have some failures too. For one, there's the bed frame I bought off craigslist that didn't even attach to the bed properly (thankfully that has been resold). The Rubbermaid paintbrush I got a "great deal" on because it was $4 instead of $12 that I usually spend on a Purdy brush. (It leaves crazy streaks). Or the potty chair I bought without doing any research. Deuce isn't tall enough to sit in the middle of the seat - it's made for giants (luckily found that out before Deuce really used it and was able to return).

Sometimes researching items doesn't really help though. Of all the potty chairs on Amazon, not one has 5 stars, and it seems like boys can manage to pee on everything regardless of the size and shape of the "splash guard".

All in all I must be doing okay, because we're staying afloat. More than afloat, we have everything we need and we're paying less for it!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

M is for My other hobbies

I crochet (or knit, now) almost every day, late at night when we're unwinding in front of the TV. But fiber stuff isn't my first or only hobby.

My first hobby is baking. This is Deuce's birthday cake. It's two layers of chocolate cake with white frosting and decorated with mini, plain and peanut butter M&Ms. I got the idea from Parents magazine. It took just as much time to decorate as it did to bake and frost!

I got my love of baking from my dear Grandma Anne. She has "got it." She times cookies by when they smell done. She measures with a scoop. Like, not a measuring cup. She just knows how to bake, and though I'm not as skilled as her, I do love it.

My favorite hobby is scrapbooking. I started scrapbooking before I was married, just to spend time with friends and because I thought it was fun. Now that Deuce is on the scene, I do a LOT of scrapbooking.

This is his second year, what I was able to finish before his party:

(that's an American Crafts D-ring binder, which I love for any project that isn't ever really "done")

Scrapbooking is the way I record my feelings and emotions, express my love for my family, create something I can share, exercise my mind... and let's face it, it's how I spend a lot of money. DeuceDad actually doesn't mind though because I've had this hobby for about 5 years now, longer than I've ever held down a single job, so it's not a waste.

I am so fortunate for all the nap-time I spend on these hobbies. So when I'm not blogging, you know what I'm doing!

Monday, July 6, 2009

I don't even know where to start.

I haven't blogged in a while - I've been home, away, busy, sleepy, up, down and around pretty much non-stop. (And I used to work, too?)

Some of the highlights since June 23...


We went to Green Lakes and camped with friends. We have camped with this group a few times, and have always enjoyed ourselves. We were really looking forward to it, until a huge thunderstorm rolled overhead as we were packing the car. We actually got the car totally unpacked and called everyone to confer... only for the sky to clear and the weather to be gorgeous. We repacked the car (minus a few essentials forgotten in the fray) and off we went.

It's a really nice park - actually a national forest, I think - with a beautiful beach for swimming and lots of trails. Our sites were in a great location, and the weather held out. A great trip!

July 4th!

We celebrated the all-American way. We over ate and watched baseball.

"Dipfest" started as a discussion over what the best kind of taco dip is.

It turned into an allout gorge-fest that the hostess is not entirely recovered from. Digestively speaking. There was no clear winner, but the contestants for taco dip were "Alyson's taco dip" (cream cheese/sour cream/taco seasoning, diced tomatoes, lettuce, cheese), chili cheese dip (cream cheese, chili, cheese), and 7 layer taco dip (cream cheese/sour cream/taco seasoning, refried beans, guacamole, salsa, olives, jalapeno slices, cheese). Also in the photo are chicken wing dip and artichoke dip. I feel sick just thinking about it.

We went to see the Red Wings. We took Deuce last year, but he was mostly interested in popcorn and playing in the grass. This year he was able to follow along a little (here, in the red tshirt, bemoaning a blown call) He was great at the game, and we're looking forward to bringing him again.

Hangin' with my Dad!

My dad had some time off mid-week, so we went to the Strong National Museum of Play together. The working folk don't get to do stay-at-home stuff like story hour, so this was a treat for Dad.


This is the completed "first sock evah!" and the second one has another 2-ish inches of calf and some ribbing left to go.

Amazingly, sock knitting has been my procrastination knitting, used to keep myself from a cable scarf (I think I got the cable thing figured, just trying to finish the yarn), and a sweater (whoa) that is very intimidating.

Not too shabby - hoping to have some fiber stuff to share soon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Everybody and their momma *is* doin' it.

As seen on Ali's blog and Cathy's blog, it's...

TODAY June 23rd, 2009

Outside my window... the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. It is a beautiful day

I am thinking... about gardening instead of mopping

I am thankful for... Deuce's patience today while we ran errands for hours (with a playground/lunch break, so it wasn't all work)

From the kitchen... I packed lunch to eat at the playground (go go prepared mom!), but have yet to decipher dinner. Greek salad?

I am wearing... Birkenstocks. But my feet are pedicure-d so I only look half like a hippy

I am creating... more work for myself by buying more plants

I am going... to my parents' to swim if all goes to plan

I am reading... every sweater knitting book I could get my hands on from the library

I am hoping... to find a sweater pattern

I am hearing... birds chirping, and the non-sound of Deuce napping. Thank God.

Around the house... are two less things to return, two less things to trip over and stress that I don't get anything done.

One of my favorite things... is taking sun dried clothes off the clothesline.

A few plans for the rest of the week... swimming, a reunion, knitting meetup, then camping!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's tough bein' old

The scene: Deuce is napping. I am on the couch watching a documentary, drinking diet coke. Windows open, letting in fresh air.

A sound. Kind of a cry. I pause the TV. Not Deuce. Unpause. I hear the cry again, and pause TV with a sigh. Dog hears sound and starts to bark. I charge outdoors to reprimand this person. Instead of some stupid troublemaker, I find the 84 year old neighbor on the ground in the backyard!

The neighbor has clearly fallen on her head/face, evidenced by the grass-stained white hair and slight skinned nose/cheek. Should I call 911? "NO!"

The neighbor says "blah blah, in Italian, blah, I don't speak English, blah, something that I managed to recognize as the word for 'face', Italian words, more Italian words, why didn't I learn the language from Grandma..."

Well, she seems fine, upsadaisy. But I can't lift this woman. (Remind me to lose weight before I get to 84 years old.) Then she's gesturing, and I realize she wants me to go get her nephew who lives 3 doors down. This nephew is in his 70s, but he's more help than the dog, so off I go.

We right her and she said thank you along with many other things to me and the nephew, and the nephew's wife who came down... luckily she's okay.

What was she doing outside? Trying to hang clothes on the line. Her nephew commented "84! use the dryer!" I get that, but man, it's tough bein' old.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Finding meaning in the mop bucket

In my perpetual state of half-finished, I have found myself outside on a chaise in the sun knitting or reading more and more often. I am loving this. I am loving it because despite all the unfinished stuff that fills my home, and all my sitting around, the house is looking better than ever.

DeuceDad and I don't see eye to eye on housework. My philosophy is that if my kid won't get sick or hurt in our home, it's fine. I push the clutter aside to make room for additional clutter, I clean the toilet, I call it a day. He likes things put away properly but does not under any circumstances clean the toilet. In other words, I'm a "clean" and he's a "neat."

That said, a few weeks ago he expressed some, uh, frustration? annoyance? fear? over the state of the house. There were some very precarious leaning piles. As I've said, I don't care, but if it's important to him I can make it at least marginally important to me. I do love him after all.

So I implemented a lose days of the week schedule to make sure each level of my house is getting some attention every week. I have a split level, so that's 3 days of tidying and cleaning with 2 days for margin of error/naps. It's been working out nicely because it's a small set of things to do each day, and I can make myself do them before I get really bored.

Okay, so all this is cute, right? Housework, leaning town of mail, haha. But here's the tough stuff. All the while I've been overachieving in school, working professional jobs, then being a WOHM I've always said I have much more important things to do than keep house. And now I find myself a SAHM and keeping house is the only thing I have to do. I play with Deuce, I socialize, I do my crafts. But when he's taking his 2-3 hour daily nap, the only actual responsibility I have is the housework. My gut reaction to that is to say "is this what my life's become?" My life is the unimportant things - the things that were beneath me a year ago.

My mom put this in perspective for me. She always told me to be the best I can at whatever I'm doing. That always meant academics or career in my life. Parenting goes without saying that I try to be a good mom, but now my career is homemaker. Mom told me that I need to take pride in my home and be the best homemaker I can be.

She's right. Homemaking isn't beneath me. It's hard work. It's tiring and thankless and repetitive, like so many other jobs I've had can be at times. But it can also bring a sense of satisfaction and pride when the job is well done, and certainly when it gets noticed!

DeuceDad does make a point to say when the house looks nice - and particularly when he notices a giant pile of crap has disappeared. But I'm the one who needs to take notice and appreciate when I've done a good job. I'm the one who needs to hold myself to a higher standard when it comes to this SAHM gig. This is my life after all, and it's not too small for me.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I finally cried

I held back my tears so well about Robbie growing up until just now. He's in his crib, refusing to nap, saying "woof woof woof" and "oh, man!" I am his mom and I am so happy.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Deuce is Two

Deuce turned 2 today! We had a busy morning and he's now napping. Time for me to frantically do chores, bake a cake, prepare dinner and wrap his gifts! I don't think he really understands what it means that people keep saying Happy Birthday to him, but it's fun anyway.

I'm doing a good job keeping my emotions in check today. I have had some moments when I wonder how it's possible that he is so tall/smart/independent when 2 years ago today he was brand new and needed his mom and dad for everything. But I've spend the better part of the last year with him so I don't feel like I missed out.

I did a lot of scrapbooking - although I can't say I'm finished with his second year. I have the book divided into sections (events, family, everyday) with coordinating section pages:

I am pretty proud of some of my pages:

The first page has a little dedication.

It reads

Dear Robbie,

As I write this, you are about to turn two. I'm teaching you to say "two" and hold up your two fingers so that you can tell people how old you are. I don't know why this is so fascinating to me, but it is. Probably for the same reason everything you do is amazing to me - you're a fun guy! You're growing up fast and your dad and I get to be there as you become a toddler, and some day a man.

This book is really for me to save my favorite photos and have a place ot write down the stories of your childhood and our adventures as a family. I know I will always want to remember how it felt to help you learn and grow, how you make me smile, even our small frustrations and challenges because they make the happy moments sweeter.

I hope someday you enjoy looking at this book as much as I've enjoyed making it. But if you don't take after me and you're not a sentimental guy, then just know how much happiness you've brought to our family, and in these pages are some of the ways you did that.

My love forever,

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Our Backyard

is decked out in Backyardigans! Today is Deuce's 2nd birthday party, and we're ready for action. Guests are coming at 5pm and we're going to grill hots and burgers, play a game, have cake and open gifts. The mechanics of the party are all set, but I'm not ready. I mean, I changed out of my sweatpant capris (hot) into jeans (socially acceptable). But mentally I'm not ready. He's out there in a man's outfit kicking a ball around with his dad. Who is this 2 year old and where did he come from.

I'll share my sentiments to him on his actual birthday (Monday). I don't want to get emotional before people come. I will share my recipe for the pasta salad I make for him that he loves.

Pesto Pasta Salad

1 12oz box tri-color rotini
provolone (ask the deli to slice a 1/2 thick piece), diced
hard salami (again with the thick piece), diced
1 small can sliced black olives
1 small can cece beans (aka chick peas, garbanzo beans)
1 packet Good Seasons Italian dressing mix, prepared with balsamic vinegar
1T basil pesto

Cook the pasta, drain and cool under cold water. Combine the dressing with the pesto. Toss it all together - garlicky and delicious! Add cucumbers, diced bell pepper, cherry tomatoes - anything you want to use up.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A good reason to open a bottle of wine

This Friday I decided to make a nice dinner and open a bottle of the wine we bought in Sonoma. The wine is Cline 2007 Los Carneros Viognier. Dry and fruity, very delicious. I decided to make pasta puttanesca so I could cook with the wine as well as drink it.

Here's a leetle mis en place after the tomatoes were started. This is a good spot to point out one of my favorite kitchen items - Epicurean cutting boards. I have them in 3 sizes and use them every day. Mine are the basic Kitchen series, the thinnest ones, but they are in great shape after 3 years of near daily use and dishwasher cleaning. Have to love the patina (they start out much lighter in color). I'd also like to note that I have never found a gourmet brand of capers. Suggestions? Oh and still using a cheapo knife as we never found the Wustof santoku. But back to the food...

And, if you can excuse my perpetually stained sink, some 10/12 count shrimp I've been saving in the freezer for a celebratory dinner when I get a job. Blerg. But yummy.

And the finished product, steamy and ready for eating!

Want to eat something yummy today?

Puttanesca Sauce with Shrimp

2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t red pepper flakes
28 oz tomatoes (I had crushed on hand, but I also like whole peeled broken up myself)
1/2 C wine (use whatever you're drinking, red or white)
juice of 1 lemon
2T capers, drained
1/2 C kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 C parsley, chopped
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium and saute the garlic and red pepper flakes about 2 minutes until garlic is soft. Add the tomatoes and wine to the pan and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add lemon juice, capers and olives and stir to combine. Nestle the shrimp in the sauce and bring the heat back up to medium high. Cook just until shrimp are done (10/12 count took about 8 minutes). Add parsley and serve over 1 lb pasta.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Round up

Katie the Scrapbook Lady does an end of the month roundup that works perfectly with my end of May have to get things done push. It's just some things of interest about the blogger, plus some blog/computer/office maintenance.

  • What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
  • The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns
    What movies, television shows, plays, etc. did I watch this month?
  • Quantum of Solace, and the season premiere of Jon & Kate Plus 8 *hangs head in shame*
    What fun things did I do with my family and/or friends?
  • Saw BIL and SIL at DeuceDad's parents house. Anniversary Party!
    What gifts did I give and/or receive?
  • I got craft supplies and flowers for Mother's Day, and I gave the anniversary album (need to snap some pics of that)
    What special or unusual purchases did I make?
  • LOTS of food and party supplies, a firepit for the backyard
    What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
  • I did squats and literally could barely walk for 3 days
    What were my accomplishments this month?
  • I made my long awaited living room curtains!
    What were my disappointments this month?
  • The curtains are a leetle too narrow
  • Anything else noteworthy to include?
  • Finishing projects left and right!

Katie the Scrapbook Lady also has a to-do list which I will honestly say I am up to date uploading pics and that I don't plan to back up files (but she has a computer business, so it's important to her). I will clear off my scrapping space though b/c I have 112 pictures on their way here and lots of scrapping to do before Deuce's birthday party!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The curse of an enthusiastic starter

is that you never really finish the projects you start. Just in this room, I have shredding and filing, Deuce's 2nd year scrapbook, parts from the anniversary scrapbook, a not-yet-started California vacation book, tags and seed packets for a garden notebook, 2 boxes left from the office overhaul, a gift to return, and 2 half-drank Diet Cokes. I'm not joking. I never finish anything.

It's almost the end of the month, and time to put the full court press on finishing the unfinished. I did this in February and accomplished record amounts (for me) of crocheting and weaving in of yarn ends. I'm cooped up in the office anyway uploading photos - still can't figure out how to stop my internet connection from timing out. Way to go computer professional. Blah.

I don't have a good pic to go with this post, so I'll just share something cute. This is Deuce wearing my dad's hard hat.

He's a hard workin' dude.