Jun 29, 2008

Weekend Projects

This weekend, I got together with some knitters from Ravelry and learned about dying yarn. We mixed Jacquard dyes into squeeze bottles and hand painted our yarns. The yarn was first soaked in a water-vinegar solution. After dying, the color was set by heating the yarn in saran wrap, at 350 degrees, for about 30 minutes.

We painted normal skeins and blanks. The blanks are yarn knit into a scarf like block on a knitting machine. The object is you can paint matching stripes on the two blocks, then knit out of that block to make matching striped socks. I didn't love the way my colors turned out. They were meant to be a light grey and mauve, but are more of a dark grey and purple. Oh well, practice makes perfect.

(Lori used some fun bright colors)

I do like the way my skein turned out. I used equal parts red and blue to make a dark purple base. I applied it to one end of the skein, then squeezed it down to a fade out. I then filled in the whiter areas with a more dilute solution.

Here are all of our yarns hanging to dry while we kicked back, had lunch and knit for a while.

While I knit, Brian was up to bigger and harder projects. He rent a front end loader to dig out a nice hole for a new patio. This has turned out to be a very difficult project due to the intricate network of tree roots he has had to chop through. He's really doing a great job. Today his dad came out to help him, which was much appreciated.

So far he has turned this

into this.

Jun 28, 2008

In case you missed it.

This was one of my favorite routine's from Wednesday night's SYTYCD. This is a rumba danced by Courtney and Gev.

Gev is probably my favorite for this season. He's from Kazakhstan and speaks a bit like Borat. He is such a cutie and reminds me so much of my favorite last season, Dominic.

Unfortunately, my male, Chris, was voted off this week. I likely won't win the yarny contest. Boo.

Jun 24, 2008

I've been so patient.

It's been 57 days since I found out. 57 days and 29 blog posts. I have waited the societal drive appropriate amount of time and now I am ready to shout from the mountain tops - I am pregnant!!! The nine long months of trying now seems like a distant memory. As of today I am officially twelve weeks and feeling just great. I love going through the feelings and changes of pregnancy. And although it makes other people angry at me, I haven't been sick at all! We met with the doctor today and listened to the most precious sound of our baby's heart. 156 beats per minute - the doctor jokingly claimed, "Then it's a boy." Brian and I are so happy and are counting the days down til we can shower our baby with love and kisses.

And yes, I may be only twelve weeks, but I do already have an obvious baby bump. It was not fun hiding it from my co-workers everyday. Thank goodness for my baggy lab jacket. I will finally tell all of them today. The announcement will come in the form of pink and blue cupcakes - an idea straight from Carrie (what a creative gal).

Now I can post about everything baby (and you know I will). And to start - I will show you one thing I will not be knitting for my baby. If you make your baby wear this, you're just plain mean.

More camping

We spent the weekend camping at Orchard Beach State Park in Manistee, MI. This is a beautiful park just on the bluff of Lake Michigan. The park was built amidst a fruit orchard in the 1920s. It's small, quiet and has clean bathroom facilities (a very important feature to me). We camped with Carl, Jessie, their 4 year old Aaron and his cousin Travis. This was also Maggie's first camping trip.

When we first arrived, Maggie was a bit overwhelmed by it all. I tried to imagine seeing a campground through her eyes. There were at least 4 dogs within view that she wanted, desperately, to play with. Beyond that, there were many interesting children and adults. She barked and howled enough that she earned a time out back in the car. She soon figured out that these other campsites were just for looking. We opened the shoe door on our tent which became a nice doggie door for her. She entered and exited as she pleased to take her naps.

We ate great food, relaxed by the campfire, canoed, and saw some fantastic lighthouses. Canoeing was fairly uneventful with no spills. The boys seemed to enjoy it thoroughly, especially when they got to pee in the woods. Maggie must have thought our conversation was boring because at one point she up and jumped out of the canoe to swim away! Luckily her leash was on so I could grab her and haul her back in. That rascal.

Before we drove back Sunday we made sure to check out all the nearby lighthouses, including Manistee North Pierhead, Frankfort Breakwater, Point Betsie and Little Sable. Little Sable is a beautiful brick lighthouse that you're allowed to climb. We didn't get to with Maggie in tow, but we'll go back someday.

Jun 22, 2008

Back from the wilderness

We're back and I'm beat. I'll have to post more later. Thanks for your positive thoughts, though. The closest to rain we saw were the showers off in the distance. We had a beautiful weekend.

Jun 20, 2008

The great outdoors

We're off on a short camping trip so I'll be away from the internet. Pray for us that there is little rain!

Jun 19, 2008

A little Thursday knitting

I finished these socks a few days ago. This yarn was a souvenir purchase made in Traverse City. The colors remind of the sand, water and sky. They're just a simple 3x1 ribbing, knit on double-pointed needles. They're a great pair of light weight summer socks.

Jun 17, 2008

Casual Tuesday

It is such a beautiful day and Brian and I have no obligations tonight, so we're going to pack a picnic and head down to the beach for dinner and a sunset. I'm going to try to replicate a delicious salad that I had last Saturday at Reds in Rockford. The salad was simple, but delicious with strips of rotisserie chicken, cubes of aged cheese, apples and a vinaigrette. I'm going to try strawberries in the place of apples and picked up one of Kraft's new line of dressings in Vidalia Onion. I haven't decided on a dessert, but I'm sure we'd rather pick up ice cream at our very favorite local place on the way back, Captain Sundae. My mouth is watering already.

Jun 15, 2008

The greatest compliment

We visited friends for dinner on Friday. While there, Mike mentioned to me that his wife had called me "Martha Stewart" the day prior. Now I don't know if it was out of spite, like "Damn that Martha Stewart for making me feel bad for ordering pizza for our dinner" or praise, "I can't wait to see what Martha Stewart brings for dessert."

I chose to take it as a compliment. Then I whipped out my cherry vanilla lattice pie. (Another Junior League recipe - it was goood.)

Jun 13, 2008

Dog Intelligence

A book on The Intelligence of Dogs published a list of dogs in order of intelligence. Beagles were ranked very low on his list. The intelligence was measured by ability to understand new commands and obey the first command.

Here are the top 10 Brightest Dogs:

1. Border Collie
2. Poodle
3. German Shepherd
4. Golden Retriever
5. Doberman Pinscher
6. Shetland Sheepdog
7. Labrador Retriever
8. Papillon
9. Rottweiler
10. Australian Cattle Dog
Welsh Corgi (Pembroke)

Beagles aren't mentioned until #72.

Thankfully, they go on to explain that
"Intelligence is a complex subject. A breed of dog that does not learn very quickly may have other talents. It is important to remember that intelligence should not be judged only by the willingness to follow obedience commands. The willingness or ability to be obedience trained may reflect a desire to please or a dependence upon humans, as well as intelligence...
Hounds may also suffer from this type of ranking. These dogs are bred to have more of a "pack" mentality with other dogs and less reliance on a master's direct commands. While they truly may not have the same kind of intelligence as a Border Collie, they were not bred to learn and obey commands quickly, but to think for themselves while trailing game."

So Maggie has a mind of her own. There is nothing wrong with that!

Product of the Week

Our friend Kyle dropped by Tuesday this week for dinner. He and Brian and have brewing some beer in our basement so we've had the excuse to get him out to Holland more frequently. Since I'm not doing much alcohol drinking anymore, Kyle brought me some beer of my own - various root beers made with real sugar cane (none of that artificial crud). I first drank a Frosty rootbeer. That was delicious and had a strong kick to it. The next night I enjoyed one of these frosty treats.

Ho Doctor! This is a delicious rootbeer!! It has a creamy softness to it much like cream soda, but keeps a slight kick. Kyle said we should try making floats out of them, but now that I'm thinking about it, it tastes like the icecream has already melted into it. I love this so much that I've demanded Brian go out and find cases of it to bring home. Move over Coke Zero, I have a new love in my life.

Jun 10, 2008

So You Think You Can....rock my world

You've all heard me before. This show is the best reality entertainment on television. The auditions are over and the real meat and potatoes starts tonight. The top 20 will be paired off boy-girl and receive a new piece of choreography each week. Think "Dancing with the Stars," but with real talent and fantastic music. Give it a try and let me know what you think!  I'll be rooting for Jessica and Chris because they were randomly assigned to me for an online knitting group on Ravelry.  If either of them wins, I'll get yarny presents from the 9 other people in my group.

I may be biased...

but isn't my nephew just about the cutest baby....ever!

And if you that isn't more cuteness than you can handle - check out this fantastic fur-baby.

*Photos taken on my trip home this weekend.

Jun 4, 2008

Happy Birthday my dear Maggie

(Letter to Maggie. Yes I know she can't read, but maybe if one of you are nice enough, you'll read it to her.)
Dear Maggie,
I can't believe you're turning 1 today! It seems only a few months ago that we first met you at the adoption center. We picked you out from your brothers because you were quiet, yet friendly. You were so tiny back then and seemed so fragile.

You've grown so big since then. I've also learned a lot more about you. You are very stubborn, still to this day if I say "sit," you seem to process it for several seconds knowing full well what I mean but considering your options. You are very clever - you can unzip your way out of your crate, slide under the baby gate, and somehow sneak into our bed at night without alerting Brian or I to your presence (that is, at least, until I figure out that I've lost 1/2 of my side of the bed to a curled up fuzzball). You are a kind companion to me and Brian, always curious to know where we are and always happy to greet us. You are friendly to all strangers and dogs. You make people of all ages smile when you give them a kiss.

I do miss some of your puppy ways - but I'm thrilled that you've given up a few. I don't know how or when you decided, but one day it just seemed you gave up on chewing the corners of the rugs, unrolling the toilet paper, and playing keep away with the kitchen/bathroom towels. You still make off with a flip-flop from time to time, but that's okay as long as it's Brian's.

So Happy Birthday to you Maggie! You're the best! (This is her new birthday shirt, I think she kind of hates it.)

P.S. Happy 1st Birthday to Fiona too! It seems many special girls were born June 5th.

Jun 3, 2008


Today was our final hurrah at the Boys and Girls Club of Grand Rapids (at least for this year). To celebrate the close of the school year, we put together a party with a true carnival theme. This is something we wanted to do last year but never pulled together. I was in charge of the party and felt a bit overwhelmed by it all. Somehow, it all came together beautifully. I had just enough volunteers to scrape by. I brought in a motivational group from Ohio - the Dazzling Mills Co. This is a family act that uses acrobatics and juggling to demonstrate hard work and persistence. The kids laughed and smiled so much, it was contagious.

We served the children cotton candy, hot dogs, pop corn and sno-cones. I didn't expect 150 kids, and I really didn't expect their little stomachs would fit one of everything. Had I known there would be so many, I would have scaled down the choices a bit. It all worked out in the end. Some of the kids had never had sno-cones or cotton candy before, if you can believe that!

My commitment to the Grand Rapids Junior Leauge is now over. I will be going on inactive status for next year while I try the local Holland Junior Welfare League. I'm excited to do something within my own community.

Today's Smoothie

I've really taken to experimenting with smoothies lately....especially since I bought an immersion blender for one of Brian's Christmas presents (I, admittedly, use it more than him). I used to just mix frozen peaches with a banana and O.J. I like to use at least one frozen fruit so that I don't have to add ice which only seems to water it down.

Today's smoothies had:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp wheat germ
3/4 banana
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/3 cup o.j.

Blend and gulp down! This is my favorite, healthy, mid-morning snack. I was also thinking what a great frozen treat they would make if I had popsicle forms.

Jun 2, 2008

Knitting Talk...finally

I know it's been a while since I've posted about knitting, this doesn't mean it's out of my mind. You may remember the yarn I received from Meredith for my birthday. I was procrastinating on finishing the project because I feared the yoke of the neck was too short and would lie wrong. I pushed myself to go to knitting group tonight so that I could sit with no distractions and finish the seaming.



The sweater really turned out great, except I was right in thinking the yoke didn't turn out right. There was no way I could tie the front in a cute little knot with such short ends. Luckily, fellow knitter to the rescue. Kari told me to knit a flap on the back (almost like a slot) to slide the other side through. It worked out great, and now I don't have to worry about strangling the baby for the sake of a cute knitted project.


I love the beautiful simplicity of this pattern and it's ability to be unisex. The yarn is silky for cotton and light weight. I would love to knit with this yarn again.

Some of you may have noticed I'm not completely done - I still have to sew on buttons. I have yet to sew buttons on (now) all three of the baby sweaters I've made. I'll do it eventually.

Project info:
Pattern: Quaker from The simply Sublime organic cotton dk book
Yarn: Sublime Organic Cotton dk (3 balls)
Size: second size up for 51" chest

Jun 1, 2008

Splish Splash

Once a week, whether she needs it or not (and most definitely she needs it) Maggie gets a bath. Brian and I have perfected our two person attack. I line the bathroom floor with towels, get snacks ready, and smear peanut butter on the bathtub wall. Brian finds Maggie and then we lure her together with the peanut butter left over on the knife.
A little water in the bottom of the tub helps to soak the dirt from her toes. I use the shower head to soak her down. She gets scrubbed from head to toe with a flea/tick shampoo that makes her smell so fresh and clean. (Brian always get to scrub down the DMZ.)

She gets hosed down again. It never ceases to amaze me how much dirt comes out with the rinse water. We heave her on to the towels and try to quickly cover her before she shakes off all the water. Usually we win. She always gets a little crazy about now. She runs in tiny circles and rubs her face in the towels....almost like she's trying to find some new dirt to cover herself in.

Next is the salon-like blowdrying treatment. She used to try to gulp the air from the blowdryer. Now she's not so interested in the blowdryer, because she's found that Brian's hand works as a neat little treat dispenser about this time. He slowly feeds her treats while I dry and fluff her. She comes out like a beauty queen.

Today we had a bit of a shock while drying her. Brian was rubbing her belly and found a tick under her neck. We've never had that happen before! It was evil looking, brown and fat, probably about 2 mm. She gets Advantix once monthly for fleas/ticks, so I hope the tick was dead. But I tell you what, that bugger was really difficult to extract from her skin. Brian did his best to hold her still when I pulled at the tick with the tweezers. I wanted to cry for Maggie because I'm sure it hurt and she was scared from being held down. It wasn't until later that I remembered the trick about touching the tick with a hot match, but that wouldn't have worked if the tick was dead anyway. Now she's clean and tickless, for the moment. I'll have to think twice before I let her in our bed tonight.