Aug 28, 2007


Tonight I finished the Elizabeth Zimmerman baby surprise jacket. There were a few surprises in this jacket, with the greatest being how much yarn it took! I started with two skeins of Berroco's cotton twist, which I purchased for a song during the cotton sale at Clever Ewe. The colorway is lingonberry. I quickly realized this would be nowhere near enough yarn, although I swear the shopowner told me two skeins would do it. So, at the Michigan Fiber Festival I found a periwinkle color I thought would stripe nicely with the lingonberry. Still not enough! I stopped at my LYS, Friends of Wool, next. They had neither of the two colors I was already working with. Instead, they had a wine color that was part of the Lingonberry. I figured it would work out because this would be the button band. I was right about the color, but wrong about how much. I finished the first skein about 4 rows short of completing the pattern. After another 1/4 skein, the sweater was complete. It was still completed for less than $25 despite all of the extra yarn purchases.

Here's the token photo that everyone takes of this project. See how it just looks like a deflated manta ray?

Fold in the sleeves and fold up the buttonband. Presto Chango! It's a baby jacket....well, more like a toddler, but you get the drift.

Now I just need to sew the shoulder/arm seams and find some buttons.

"Quiet, I'm hunting squirrels."

Aug 26, 2007

More Puppy Pics!

Well, I don't think I'll soon grow bored of posting puppy pics, so I hope you all enjoy them.
Maggie is quickly adjusting and didn't wake up to pee at all last night. Woo-hoo! This weekend she took her first trip to a yarn store, the family cottage, and Lake Michigan. She made many friends....maybe 100. I mean she really really likes to get pet, by big people, little people, old people and young. In fact, I've talked to my neighbors more than ever since they come out of their houses now to pet her.

"Mommy, are you done buying yarn yet?"

"Yes, I know I'm adorable. May I pose in your wedding photos?"

"I'd love to poop on that lighthouse."

"It's dog vs. Ikea throw rug, and I win."

Our new dogwalker comes today. She'll be helping us two days a week so Maggie gets the care she needs and I don't pull out my hair worrying about her on busy work days. It's a win-win situation. Thanks again to Carrie for finding her!

Aug 25, 2007

Pick of the Week #5

As many know, puppies get lonely at night when they have to sleep alone, minus their mom and siblings. Kim told me about a snugglepuppy, which is a stuffed toy with a warming pack and a heartbeat. We didn't find that product at our local pet store, but we did find this.

This is a Petstages Soothing Toy, available at PetSmart. There is a buckwheat bag that is heated in the microwave and then inserted through a pocket. You can tuck a treat in the head to make it more interesting. It also has a tiny tail that's great to chew on. Maggie likes to snuggle with it at night and naptime, and even when she's chilly after her bath. It's also machine washable. For $6.99, we think it's a great find!

Aug 23, 2007

Puppy Love

Maggie had a good day today, she didn't make too big of a mess in her crate and is starting to warm up to me quite well. Right now she's in my lap watching me type while Squishy is eating my earring. I feel like the Jungle King. Carrie was so nice to spend her day researching doggy daycares, walkers and play pens for me today. She found a dog walker who lives just down the road and even contacted her for me! Thanks so much Carrie!

I hope tonight will be a better night sleep. Brian found a heated buddy from Petsmart that may help comfort her in her crate.

Now I just have to figure out how to cook dinner when I don't want to stop playing with the pup.
Oh, and I should mention that I finally received my invite to Ravelry today (sort of a My Space for knitters). I am thrilled and can't wait to get my page set up.

Sleepless nights

Our puppy came home last night. We have officially changed the name to Maggie because we received some frowns about the name Jane. At any rate, she's adorable, and definitely the cutest when sleeping. It's too bad she doesn't sleep much. She had us up hourly last night to take her to the bathroom. She would cry and yelp until someone took her outside. Then she just wanted to fall back asleep in our lap, but we're strict parents, so back in the crate she went. I sure hope she starts sleeping for 2-3 hours at a time! I feel like I have a newborn but get no maternity leave!

Aug 21, 2007

Michigan Fiber Festival

Our puppy has not come home yet, so until then, more knitting!
Saturday was my favorite weekend of the year - yarn yarn and more yarn at the Allegan County Fairgrounds. I arrived at the perfect time - they had just opened the gates and were letting in the early arrivals. This means I got first pick before the hoards of knitters flock in. I had plenty of time to roam around the vendors and see the animals. Linda came and joined me a little after 11.

The vendors were a little different this year. I found a new one I was quite pleased with, Shelridge Farms. I picked up 2 skeins of 100% wool that are so soft and machine washable! The color is Robin's Egg blue. I wish I would have had enough budget to buy enough for a baby blanket, but for now I'll settle with the two.

I also found a potter who makes bowls/plates/mugs decorated with sheep and yarn. Brian always says I have enough coffee mugs. I'll throw any one of them away to make room for this one. It's freakin' adorable (and microwave/dishwasher safe)!

My prize purchase was yarn from Briar Rose fibers.

I purchased 1000 yds of an alpaca/merino/silk blend in the colorway Wistful. It's really a nice blend of fall colors and looks even more impressive now that I've wound it into a yarn cake. I fully intend to use this in a Jo Sharp pattern for a bolero jacket.

I bought some more goodies, too, but don't want to give away future gifts that I have planned. Besides the yarn, I had a lot of fun watching the dogs herd sheep. They're very good about following commands from the sheep herder. Apparently they run 60 miles to his walking one, so they definitely make his life easy. They're goal is to keep the sheep close to the herder. They run around and around, following commands to go clockwise or ccw. Once the sheep start towards the herder, the dog flanks and makes another circle. The dog really despises the sheep and looks like he'd enjoy nothing more than sinking his teeth in their neck.


Aug 19, 2007

Something more important than knitting....

I definitely want to post about this weekends finds at the Michigan Fiber Festival, but I have some more pressing news. Brian and I adopted a beagle puppy! Her name (unless we change our minds before we bring her home) is Jane and she's about two months old.

She's all puppy, but is a soft cuddler too. We found her through a halfway home in Grand Rapids. They held an adoption day at a local animal hospital today. Most of their puppies were rescued from a puppy mill. The benefit of adopting a puppy, rather than buying one at a pet store, is that it puts no money back in the hands of the mill owners. Read more here.

We had many beagles and jackabees to pick from, but she was our favorite by far. Now I have heard a hundred people say "Don't get a beagle, they smell....or they howl." But I'll tell you I know many beagle owners who have the greatest love for their beagle. As far as smelling, well sure they will if you don't bathe it! And howling can be trained out of a dog. Per Kim's recommendation, we'll pick up Puppies for Dummies and have at it. We already bought the crate for potty training.

She'll come home with us the middle of this week. I hope she likes Squishy! Look how tiny she is right now.

Like I said, she's all puppy. Here she is chewing on my purse straps. To be fair, I put them over her head.

Aug 17, 2007

Teddy Roosevelt

The construction of Teddy is complete! and boy is he cute!

The knitting was straight forward and fast, but all of these little pieces were a little intimidating.

I sewed the seams while Brian did the stuffing. In the beginning, Teddy looked a lot more like Miss Piggy with his big snout. I also had quite the time sewing the neck and legs on correctly. I placed the legs too far forward, then angled incorrectly, and finally with his hips near the butt like they ought to be.

When all was said and done, he turned out alright. I wish I could've used buttons for the eyes, but they would be quite the choking hazard....for Brian.

Brian says this is the best thing I've ever knit. That's what he used to say about the Santa hat, but apparently the hat has been demoted.

Aug 16, 2007

Pick of the Week #4

This week I'll move away from Meijer and enter Target. I appreciate clothes at Target more than any of their other products, but one day I happened upon some delicious meals. Who else has tried the Archer Farms products? They have several easy meals that border on gourmet, with names like fried polenta, mushroom cavatappi, and carbonara bucati.

These boxed meals are simple to make, and take basic added ingredients. On sale, I purchased each kit for only a couple of dollars. The nutritional content was surprisingly low in fat. The taste was rich, not over seasoned, but bold. And best of all...there was enough in the kit to supply lunch leftovers for the both of us.

Does anyone else have a favorite Archer Farms product? I think I'll try a frozen selection next time.

Aug 14, 2007


My Tuesday pickle-making venture went over fairly well. The major hold up was that Meijer was out of pint size Mason jars AND all brands of celery seed. Apparently I am not the only Holland-ite interested in pickling my crops. I solved my spice dilemma by using a bread and butter ready-mix from Bell. I found Mason jars at Menards.

So, as you can deduct from above, I didn't get the joy of saying I made them "from scratch" since I had to purchase a ready made spice mix. Oh well. I'll save the Martha recipe for next time.

Here's my cucumber crop.

I cut some in spears and used my mandolin to cut the others in rounds. I combined them with a couple of medium onions. I then used salt to draw out the liquid (supposedly they'll be crisper this way), and mixed in some ice. Three hours later, I was allowed to move forward.

The spice mix was combined with 8 cups of cider vinegar and 6 cups of sugar. After bringing to a simmer, I ladeled it into each of the mason jars. Oh, and I should say, I "sterilized" the jars by running them through a hi-heat cycle on the dishwasher. The jars were placed in a hot water bath and boiled for 10 minutes. It was definitely quite a feat removing those jars without dropping them. I thought a couple of jars didn't seal, but later as they cooled, I heard a few "pops" from the lids, like magic. For my first trial in canning, I'm pretty pleased.

Now I just have to be patient for several weeks before I open one to taste them! I'll make sure they're gift-worthy before I share.

Aug 12, 2007

If I ever need a new hobby....

I'm going to make these.

hattip to Carrie

Another Fun Weekend

Where has time gone? Brian and I had an action-packed weekend. Friday we tried out a new-to-us restaurant in Holland, Thai Kitchen. It's been a while since I've enjoyed one of my favorite dishes, Chicken Pad Thai. It was good, but I wish a little spicier. Unfortunately, they didn't have crab rangoons, but they had some mini egg rolls that kicked ass. We also saw the new Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix.

I enjoyed the movie, but was very upset about how much of the book they cut out. The cut out a major storyline for Hagrid and Ron's venture in Quidditch, amongst other things. Brian and I both agreed they could've tacked on a 1/2 hour and no one would have minded. I loved every scene with Luna Lovegood - the inflection in her voice was hilarious! I thought Dolores Umbridge was quite well played, too. I could have enjoyed the movie even more had it not been for the teenager behind me that insisted on narrating everything to his Potter-naive friend. We actually had to get up and move seats. At the end of the movie I came face to face with the culprit, prepared to give him a dirty look, and then realized he was one of my patients. He said "Hey, aren't you my doctor?!" I just said "Yup" and continued on.  It was amusing to run into him because I talked to him about Harry Potter the last time I saw him in the office.

Saturday we had a wedding for Brian's cousin, but we did find time to walk to the farmer's market in the morning. We picked up some great peaches, basil, spinach, potatoes, onions, strawberries, and focaccia bread. I also nabbed a pickle recipe and am going to try it out this Tuesday.

The wedding was beautiful as weddings typically are. I am happy for the bride and groom. They're a sweet couple and have a lot of fun together.

Two things I also love about weddings, cake and dancing. It was too bad that the reception site did not have a/c, so we were a little too hot and sticky for much dancing. Maybe next time.
Here's a new pic of my brother-in-law with his girlfriend. She's a little too cute - makes me feel like a plain Jane. I'm easily intimidated by beautiful women. Does anyone else ever feel that way? I'm sure we'll get to know each other better with time. She definitely knows how to take a good picture. (He's quite smitten with her, if you can't tell by the photo.)

Today (if you're still reading!), I spent a little time slicing and freezing peaches along with making another chocolate zucchini cake (gotta find a way to use up all this zucchini). I've learned my lesson about how to properly scald and peel peaches, as well as freezing them first on a cookie sheet before lumping them together in a bag.

We had enough time left in the day to go to Lake Michigan for a little swimming and relaxation. The water was the warmest I've felt all season!

What did you do this weekend?

Aug 8, 2007

Pick of the Week #3

Patty Ann told me about this tasty treat a few weeks ago - and I am ho-ooked. Bolthouse Farms puts out an entire line of flavored lowfat milks. I found mine in the produce section at Meijer. I have tried the vanilla chai and mocha cappuccino. The cappuccino flavor contains Arabic coffee, so I get that little caffeine pick-me-up I need about 3 pm. I serve it up over some ice and enjoy every last chocolatey milk drop. There are 178 calories in one serving and 2.5 g of fat. Not bad - and relatively guilt free since I know it's great for my bones. One serving has 45% of the RDA of calcium. And price wise - I can get two servings for $1.89 or 4 for under $3. That beats a Starbucks any ole' day.

Yum! I'm going to pour a glass right now.

Aug 6, 2007

Mini Vacay

I'm back from my weekend at Big Whitefish Lake.
We started the weekend with Jacqueline's wedding shower. This will be my first sister-in-law. She also comes from a family of three girls - marrying into a family of three boys. We're going to be a good support for eachother!

Jacqueline is the beauty donning the new apron - with a personalized embroidery job (great job Aunt Renee!).

We lounged around the cottage for the remainder of the weekend. We brought Squishy up and boy did he love it! He loved the company, the birds, and all of the potato chips. Bri got a chance to ski. He was a little annoyed by the waves, but he still did a great job.

I had ample opportunity to knit - and actually sped through all of the projects I brought with me.
I finished the Better than Booties baby socks. They turned out so cute. I didn't enjoy the short row toe, but the rest of the pattern was very clever. I think next time I'll just do my own traditional decreases.

I started and finished two baby hats with an umbrella edging (I can't remember what book they're from - oops!). These will be a gift from Carrie to her cousin's twin boys. The yarn is so soft. I think the babies (and mom) will love them.

And lastly - some baby booties from my Knitting Pattern-a-Day calendar with leftover sock yarn.

What next?!

I came back earlier than intended today because it was quite overcast. As soon as Brian came to pick me up, the sun started to peek through. Oh well. Now I'm back at home "harvesting" our vegetables (we had our first red tomato) and catching up on chores. Back to work tomorrow.

Aug 3, 2007

Just a few things

Summer is a busy time for me, as I'm sure it is for all of you. I have just a few things I wanted to share with everyone.

We had the baby shower for my co-worker Tuesday. I finally got to present her with the baby blanket I hinted about many moons ago.

I also made her a token strawberry hat, because what baby is complete without one?
We had a really nice time at the shower - and I had an excuse to practice another one of my cupcake recipes.

These are lemon poppyseed cupcakes. I love that they look like little butterflies. They were fairly cumbersome and difficult to make the wings if the cupcake doesn't rise enough. It was quite funny because I decided to just put a glob of the yellow custard on the ones that were too small. Later I realized they looked spot on for a fried egg. Dope.

Last night we finally made it downtown to see the Thursday night street performers.
This gargoyle was a little creepy. He would chase after you if you gave him a buck. Thanks but no thanks.

The highlight of the night was the trapeze artist. The group was from Kalamazoo, so they got my vote (and my cash) just for that. They did gymnastics, bull whip tricks, aerial stunts, and fire-eating! The funniest part was that they cracked so many raunchy jokes! Nevermind the children and conservative town! I'll quote a few of their jokes for you below.

"Guys, all girls bend like this. You just have to ask them nicely."

Set-up - this nice gentleman holds out a stalk of celery for the bull whip. Later he has to hold it between his legs, with his pelvis thrust out.
"Folks, if one of his body parts comes flying in to the audience, just bring it back to him. Maybe he'll autograph it for you....or just initial it."

"I'm wearing my +5 Hot Pants"

I'm off for a long weekend - and much knitting! My teddy bear was moving along smoothly but is now on hold as I ran out of yarn. He won't be nearly as cute with one ear and one arm. Have a great weekend!

Aug 1, 2007

Pick of the Week #2

Any one who has met me knows I'm ordinarily the whitest of the white. I'm like white on rice. I make a baby look tan. Through the years I've experimented with many a self tanner - towelettes, aerosol, cream, and even the professional air brush. Through all of the stench and streaks, I've picked my favorite.

I really haven't experienced any streaking with this lotion. In the beginning, I mixed it with a moisturizer - but now I just go for it, just like I like my vodka...straight up. Well, maybe that's just how I take my Coke Zero. There is still a smell with this lotion, but it is not nearly as apparent as most. I can get away with applying it once a week and feel like I keep the natural glow. And it truly does appear more like a natural glow then Fraggle Rock orange. I love it!

Does anyone else have a favorite?