Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shop it for the birds?

Three Days.  32 Shops.  One Great Adventure!

Before I headed out, I finished up another American Heroes quilt.  I really like this one for its simplicity.  It's quilted all-over with loops and stars, like a few others that I've done.  It goes quickly, represents the rockets' red glare and the bombs bursting in air....  I have another one on the frame and two more waiting to be quilted up.  I want to have them all done to hand over to Susan by next month's meeting.

I started my Shop Hop adventure by heading up to Bellingham on Friday with my ever-faithful assistant, Cammie, for the beginning of Shop Hop 2011.  We stopped at two shops in Bellingham, then swung by Linda's to pick her up and continue on to Lynden to visit three more shops. Unfortunately, of all the Pirates, we were the only three aboard my tiny ship; the rest had other business to attend to; excuses ranged from "work" to "ballet recital".  From there, we headed south to a couple shops in Anacortes and one in Mt. Vernon, for a total of 8 shops in the first day.  Since we are at these shops with some regularity, we opted not to spend much money at any of them.  A finishing kit here or there, but that's about it.

Linda stayed the night at my house, having hitched a ride down with me, and on Saturday morning, we headed out bright and early to begin our long journey.  First up was a shop which appears to be near the home of Beyonce's mother...and by Beyonce, I mean a giant metal chicken featured in a story here.  This is a quaint little "village" of shops in Bothell, including the quilt shop, pottery places, jewelry and bead shop, and a Middle Eastern clothing place, a favorite among the tribal belly dancing crowd.  

Each shop handed out a pattern and some little bits of fabric, parts of the theme fabric and coordinating fabrics for the year.  This year, one of the theme fabrics has 1930s and 40s style cartoons with women saying snarky things (like "I'm creative; you can't expect me to be neat, too"), which it appears that no quilt shops actually used in their blocks.  Instead they chose this floral fabric in the umbrella and matched it with blue, red or green polka dot fabrics, a few striped fabrics, and a few others.   They made a shop sample of their block design and I took a photo of each block so I would have a reference of what the block should look like.

For the most part, getting to and from each shop was easy and painless.  Some careful planning, Mapquest, a navigator, and written directions to each shop made it a smooth sailing...unless you happen to get to a shop that is located in the middle of a parade route.  We had to park about six blocks away in a residential neighborhood and walk over to the shop while we saw the last six or eight trucks go by for the annual Buckley Log Show. Cammie caught a piece of candy, but opted to donate it to a small child who was watching.  We assumed, of course, that they had planned the parade in our honor, or at least in honor of the shop hop...that's our story and we're sticking to it.

There were a number of quilts in each shop out for display, samples for upcoming classes or to show how some fabrics that they carry can look in a finished project.  Some of which were beautiful, if not absolutely stunning, and some were amusing as hell. This quilt had blocks that had titles such as this one, Chicken Caesar.  Others included Chicken a la King, Chicken in a Basket, Stewed Chicken and Chicken Cacciatore.  It was very fun, but made it even more funny since it was hanging in the bathroom, and going in there, laughing out loud and taking pictures left amused looks on those waiting in line for the loo.

This quilt and pattern was being offered at a shop in Lakewood, which I picked up to make for big kid, Emma.  She loves all things Japanese, so I thought she'd love this quilt!  This paper-pieced block should be fairly easy to assemble, and I look forward to being creative with fabrics.  I have a few Japanese fabrics, but figured I could make more of them out of batiks or other prints.

I considered picking up some real kimono fabrics--the kind that is woven 13" wide.  This collection is part of a large stash found at Japanese fabric manufacturer warehouses and garment factories that dates to the 1950s.  Unfortunately, they were being sold for about $35 a yard.  At 13" wide, I'd have to get quite a lot of it to make a single kimono for Emma.  Not happening.  As much as I love you, I'm not doing it.

The store employees and their assistants were fun and gracious, generous, and wonderful hosts to their visitors.  They had juice, lemonade, pretzels, cookies, and other treats for the hoppers, and were a delight to share stories with about our adventures, and hear their stories about this year's hop.  

Look!  More birds!  This is a giant inflatable in front of the old store, Yard Birds, in Centralia/Chehalis.  It's just more evidence that the birds are taking over.  That, and we discovered that every city in Western Washington has a Pacific Street.  We weren't sure if we had just been doing circles and kept running into the same street, or if it was following us.  Not that we're paranoid, mind you.

At the end of our Saturday journey, Cammie was still in excellent spirits.  Note her cute new haircut!  We went to a shop called "The Quilter" in the southern Washington city of Vancouver (not to be confused with the one in Canada).  They asked where we were from and were delighted that we were from so far North.  While many of the shops were seeing 500 or more hoppers in a day, these guys had gotten less than 200 a day; at the end of Saturday, my packet was numbered 689. 

We tried to meet up with Heide for dinner, but unfortunately, she is not feeling well following what was supposed to be a minor medical procedure, and may require further treatment or surgery.  I'm really sorry to have missed seeing her since we were supposed to get together six months ago and illness foiled our plans then.  Again in Spring, and chaos prevailed.  We will have to insist on a visit this summer--mid-week if we have to.  So instead of a long-overdue visit, we caught a late dinner for three at the Australian restaurant and started the long drive home.  We got back before 12:30 a.m. and went immediately to bed.  

The next day, we woke up and started out at about 8:30, thinking we'd get to the first store by 9:00, which we did...only to discover that on Sunday, the shops didn't open until 10.  Crap.  So, we decided to head out into the county area and pick up a stamp at one of the further outposts and then we wouldn't lose a lot of time driving one way.  This was the only shop on the entire hop that refused to allow Cammie to collect a kit, and only gave her a charm square because she wasn't 10 yet.  Her birthday is just a couple months away, so most shops were totally cool about being flexible. Several shop employees were skeptical about her abilities, and I wish I had brought a couple of her block designs to show them what she can do!  She and I will be working on making the blocks this summer as well as making some doll clothes for her American girl dolls. We'll have to remember to bring a small photo album of her collected works next year to show that she's a serious artist, not just collecting these for some greedy adult who wants two blocks (this happens sometimes, which is why they instituted the charm squares for kids under 10--it also provides a way for the shops to clear out some novelty fabrics that are on their discount shelves).

Our last stop was a shop in Stanwood, which is always incredibly creative with their themed displays.  They save themselves a lot of time by providing all the pieces for the shop hoppers to assemble the kits themselves;  most shops have workshops and take on volunteers to assemble more than 1500 kits to prepare for the event.  This year, the theme was blueberries at the County Fair!  

You collected a basket, some blue raffia fluff, three squares of fabric, the directions and wrap in some brown twine.  It was VERY cute!  If you purchased $25 worth of goods in the store, you got the finishing kit for free, which was a few more fabrics and goodies stuffed in a mason jar.  The pattern is a blue dresden plate (which you can kind of see on the pattern there), so the extra schnibbles in the jar give you enough variety to make the block.  You could opt to purchase the finishing kit instead, but I found a few books in the discount rack that would be nice to add to the collection--one on Hawaiian quilts and another on Folk Art quilts, which is totally up Cammie's alley!  

In the end, I hadn't gotten much fabric, but had gotten five books, two patterns, about 10 yards of fabric (enough for one king quilt top, but not the back), a  commemorative pin, and 32 "free" block patterns.  Cammie got a few things for her stash, too; about five yards of fabric, a pin, and a pair of thread snips. She's already started working on a dress for her American girl doll.  


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A few new things

Last night, Ben's cup scout troop had their end of year ceremonies, advancing the boys to the next level and giving achievements to those who worked for them.  They had a barbeque at the park, serving hot dogs, salads and fruit.  They got all the boys gathered together and attempted to keep them quiet and civilized.  Difficult to do that with some of these guys...and no, Ben was not the worst of the offenders.  Not even close.  Here he is before, while he was still a tiger.  He couldn't find his's somewhere in his room.  Probably under his bed.

After:  a wolf!  He's growing up so fast.  What a handsome guy!  I guess they usually do a whole big ceremony with face painting and stuff, but they decided not to do that.  I don't know why, exactly, maybe it was lack of patience or time.  Or both.  Either way, it was continuing to be difficult to keep their attention and keep them all quiet for the brief ceremony.  

When I have a lull in my sewing, I have time to load up and quilt a project for the American Heroes quilts.  I had this on the frame for a few days, but I finally quilted it up this morning in preparation for the guild meeting tonight.  I hope Susan is there so she can take the quilt with her.  Now I only have three of these quilts left to finish.  It's taking me way too long to finish these, and it'll be nice to have them finished and out the door.

This sideways picture (that I can't figure out how to correct) is a retirement gift from Lauri to a co-worker.  It's a very "manly" quilt, isn't it?  I love the batiks she chose and the pattern she used (paper pieced, which appears to be her favorite).  It was quilted all over using a watery pattern (although it's not pictured here...I have been having chronic camera issues that I hope will be resolved soon!).

Lastly, I finished the tunic for Tyrssen.  I hand finished all the seams so that it will withstand washing and wearing a little better, extending the life of the tunic.  I hope it fits!


Sunday, June 19, 2011

What I did over my Summer Vacation

OK, summer vacation hasn't officially started yet, since the youngest isn't out of school until Thursday, but this is what I did over the weekend.

On Saturday, I pulled out my completed yurt frame and set it up in the driveway.  The finished size for this structure is 5' high and 12' across.  This is one of four main parts of the structure.  Jen and Darby came by and we worked on finishing their khana (which will finish at 18' across to house their family of five) and putting the door frames together.

We cut the 1 x 3 boards to 5' long and then did some fancy woodworking on the 2 x 4s to fit the 1 x 3s into them.  I was able to get one board fitted with hinges for the future door installation, and got that board attached to the 2 x 4s--glued and screwed; Mike Holmes approved--using clamps and a 90 degree tool.  The door frame is just shy of 5' high, which means that nearly everyone will have to duck to get in, but that's the way this was designed.  Once inside, everyone should be able to stand up straight--maybe not right next to the wall, but bedding and boxes will likely be on the edges anyway.  Despite his best efforts, Kelly's been helping a lot with this project; he's finding us tools and adjusting the equipment, making sure that we're using things correctly (mostly me) and not getting injured.  I'm really grateful for all his help!!

Father's day was a rather laid-back affair--I did get Kelly a Wii game (Big Game Hunter) and went to the store to get supplies to make his favorite dinner (beef stroganoff) and got him some fresh blueberries and some peanut butter cups.  I don't know a single man who doesn't like peanut butter cups--I think it appeals to their youth and satisfies a sweet tooth, but in a very manly way.  They wouldn't want to admit they like things sugary or sweet, but when it comes to Reese's, the answer is, "Hell yeah!"

Cammie's idea was to give him a gift in scavenger hunt form.  She woke Kelly by placing a note by his bedside that read, "Today you can feed my fish" and contained instructions on how to do it.  Next to the fish tank was another note that instructed him to go downstairs for a surprise.  She had made him a bowl of cereal and set out a piece of fruit for him.  It was very sweet and thoughtful.  She also had a present for him--a plastic cup that was labeled, "#1 Dad.  #2 Pencils".  I think we'll have to go to the paint-it-yourself pottery place and make a real one--that was just awesome!  She's so creative!

Ben made a ceramic gift at school. It was a container that was about as big around as a soup can, but only about 2" high.  He said it was a vase for very short flowers.

Emma saw him come down the stairs and said, "Hey."  She's a teenager.  Later, they went shopping together--a little Daddy and Me time.

I put the next American Heroes quilt on the frame.  I've had this sitting around for far too long, so I decided it was time to get it quilted up, along with the two or three others, so I can get them back "home" by Tuesday.  It's a goal, anyway.   I was given batting for these quilts, but it wasn't working well with my machine, so I let Susan know (the gal who was organizing it for this guild) and she said she'd get some new batting for me.  After a few months of waiting, I thought I'd just go ahead and use my own batting so I can get them out of my house.  I think I can use the other batting (which is WOOL) for something else--either tied quilts or costumes.  

I've also been working slowly but steadily on the new Turkish socks, adding just a few more rows.  I finished the one repeat of the sock and figure I'm about half-way or maybe 1/3 way up the foot.  The back has a basic chevron (red and yellow V shape).  I love these patterns and I think I'll be doing quite a number of these socks in the near future.  Summertime seems to be Turkish Sock time.  I remember making some at soccer camp last year...
I didn't get much more work done on the tunic during the weekend, I did get a bunch of work done just before the weekend.  I cut out the pieces and sewed them together into a tunic shape.  I intend to finish all the seams so that it doesn't have all the bits unraveling, which also strengthens the seams and helps the piece last a lot longer.  There are three more pieces of linen waiting to be turned into tunics after this one, and then mailed to Tyrssen in Middle Kingdom (that is, Chad in Ohio).
Hope you had a great Father's Day!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer's (almost) Here!

Last day of school!  The girls finished up the year in fine form!  While Cammie's grades are not the traditional A-B-C--they still use the "satisfactory" check mark system for 3rd grade--she did improve in a number of areas (still needs work in math).  Emma, on the other hand, in 7th grade, they use the traditional A-B-C grading, and she improved a great deal for the end of the year and pulled out a 3.2 GPA for the end of the year.  Her lowest grade was a B-, and I'm so thrilled that she pulled it together for the end of the year!

The yurt is coming along.  For the 12' diameter structure, it requires 62 pieces of 88" long 1" x 1" (which is actually 3/4" x 3/4") with 11 holes drilled in it, each 8 1/2" apart.  I was able to get the 60th piece tied on with one piece of lacing before I ran out, so I made a quick trip to Tandy this morning and I finished tying on the 62 long strips, then add the short strips to finish the ends.  I hope this is what it's supposed to look like... Saturday, Jen and Darby are coming by to do the door frame building.

I started this pair of Turkish socks, then set it down for a week.  I'll have to pick it up and work on it a bit more when I have the chance, although I have no idea when that will be.  It takes quite a bit of concentration, so I can't watch a movie while I work (unless it's a movie I've already seen a dozen times), and I often find other things that I want to (or have to) get finished.  The yarn is the Drops alpaca sock yarn from Norway that I picked up in Portland last year.  It's SUPER soft...I hope I'll actually want to wear them once they're finished!

One of the other things that will get some work this week are some tunics that I will be making for my friend, Chad.  I haven't seen him since about 1985, but I recently found out that he joined the SCA and he is in need of some clothing.  I made a mock-up tunic, which I mailed to him, and he wrote back with some minor adjustments to the fit.  The linen just arrived this morning, and he's anxious to see them develop into tunics.

Also expected shortly are several balls of grey and white wool to make the Sounders scarf.  I had purchased some "edemame" colored yarn from KnitPicks but discovered that the color was too dark; I really needed Kool Aid green, a color that I achieved using another batch of yarn.  Since I hadn't liked the edemame and the next closest color still didn't look right (and the description was "grass or new leaves"), I decided to just get bare and dye it myself.  Kool Aid is 10 cents a pack at Winco, so why not?  The grey, on the other hand, is to replace the black that I had originally bought.  It was brought to my attention that the Sounders have changed their color scheme from blue, "rave" green (aka Kool Aid Lime), and, black to blue, "rave" green, and ash grey.  The unfortunate bit is that thanks to a Washington state law, I had to pay tax on it twice when I returned it.  I don't know if that's just from internet sales or what...but it's totally stupid to pay tax on the same thing twice.

Lunch break!  Then I get to decide what project to work on next!  Or maybe I'll just sit and read for a bit.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Years ago, there seemed to be a sort of kinship among smokers.  One would go to a club or a bar and might approach a complete stranger and say, "Can I bum a smoke?" and the other person, more often than not, would say, "Sure, friend!  Here ya go!"

That was not the case on Saturday when we went to the Irish pub after the game.  One of our number, Chris, was standing just outside the patio area having a smoke--standing a short distance from us out of courtesy, rather than by rule--and was approached by a complete stranger who said, "Hey, can I bum a smoke?"  Chris's response was "Heck no, go buy your own!"  I guess it's gotten too expensive to give them away anymore.

Ridiculous habit, anyway.

As if I didn't have enough on my plate, I have officially become the secretary for the quilt guild.  We've had no fewer than six officers quit their positions this year.  In the 20 year history of the guild, we haven't had more than one person resign at a time--and that was a very rare occurrence--but this year we've had six.  The most recent was the secretary.  I've done newsletters and taken notes in other organizations; I can do this, almost in my sleep...which I am almost doing now.  Sharon, bless her heart, volunteered me.  There was no opposition and it was unanimously voted that I would finish out the year doing the newsletter.  I guess I'll work on that tomorrow.

I finished the quilt for Lauri and delivered it last night, but didn't get any pictures of it.  Darn it!  Maybe I can get Lauri to take a couple pictures for me.  I did show it at guild and Linda is good about taking pictures of everything and posting to the web site, so I might be able to snag that one when it gets posted.

Also up on the docket today--tying knots on the yurt lattice.  I picked up four packets of grommets for the canvas yesterday--a cost of about $20--so Jen and I should both be able to get all the grommets put on the canvas for both our yurts.  There's a possibility that we'll need one more packet, but I can run to get some or get someone to pick some up at the hardware store where I got them if that's the case.

Off to get things done!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wild Weekend

Kindergarten thru 4th grade Spring Program was last week.  The school doesn't have an auditorium, so they do most big activities in the Parish Hall (but it looks more like a cafeteria).  Due to limited space, they have started doing activities and performances for half the class at a time, and sometimes twice.  This show was done twice and was standing-room-only both times.  Some of the parents may have come to both performances, but I was only able to make it to one.

The show was on Aesop's fables and included such lessons as "look before you leap", "don't put off til tomorrow what you can do today" and "don't count your chickens before they hatch."  It was fun, the costumes were clever, and the kids did a great job!  This is the brown dress I made for her, and the apron that I whipped out that morning.

Progress has been made on the yurt.  Jen and Darby came over on Saturday and we gathered some materials to tie the slats, ate lunch, and was able to get about 18 slats tied together--just over half of those holes tied.  The ties are a strong leather cording and we're doing simple overhand knots.  The trick is to make sure that the knots are placed close to the wood and that it's cinched up tight to prevent too much wiggling.  There are 60 of these long slats to tie together, then a series of shorter slats on the ends.  Those ones will still have to be drilled and cut to length.  Jen took all their lumber and leather cording home with them to work on it over the next week so they'll be ready for the next step on our next workshop day.

We also picked up the 1 x 3 pieces to make the door frame, which will probably occur the next time they come over, on the 18th, unless the Pirates invade for a quilting retreat weekend.

Yesterday evening, we went to another MLS game--the Sounders vs. the rival Whitecaps!  We arrived at a restaurant just outside of the stadium and waited for an hour or so for a seat in the bar so we could order food before the game.  One couple had settled in at a table for four, deliberately being pains in the butts about not eating, but not leaving.  We were talking among ourselves next to them, Daniel making the statement to me that he hadn't eaten all day and really wanted to have a decent dinner before going to the game, hoping that they would decide to be generous, but to no avail; they didn't offer to give us the table and sit at the bar instead.

Finally a table opened up in the corner, and we were able to grab it and sit down.  Unfortunately, that meant we had been standing for an hour before dinner, then another 90 minutes at the game, then walking for the after-revel to our favorite hangout.  Oh, and the walk back to the car.  Lots of time on our sore feet!

The Emerald City Supporters did not disappoint when it came to the pre-game tifo!  While it wasn't as showy as the one against Portland, it still was rather impressive.  The banners read:  "What is best in life?  To crush your enemy--see them driven before you--to hear the lamentation of their supporters!"  On the center banner is a barbarian of some kind standing on rocks and skulls in the colors of the other team.  Bwa-ha-ha!

The game ended in a 2-2 tie, which was disappointing, but the last goal that tied it up was in the last minute of the game and was so spectacular that Daniel said he wept...  The match recap can be seen here.

Yarn bombing!  If we had gotten an earlier dinner time, we could have gone down to Pioneer Square and walked with the ECS to the game, where we would have seen this in the daylight--the trees were wrapped in knitting!

A week or so ago, a Facebook friend, Kate, offered to take me riding on one of her horses.  She has two--one is 18-year old DJ who is a Polish-Arab mix with rabino coloring--it means that his mane and tail are naturally highlighted in light and dark tones and has white circles around both his eyes.  He looks a little spooky, but he's very sweet.  The other is a young horse, 4-year old Jessie, who she was boarding for another lady who abandoned him there.  She hasn't heard from the owner since the end of last year, so she has assumed ownership of him.  At least we know he's in good hands.  I thought of Heide while I was there when I heard the unmistakable sounds of a donkey nearby...I had an almost irresistible urge to answer him, but didn't for fear of scaring the horses, goats, or the owner.

New project for Lauri is on the frame and ready for action!  It actually has to be finished by tomorrow afternoon, so I should get started on it now.  It's a gift for one of her co-workers that is retiring soon.  It's a very masculine and will be quilted in an all-over water ripple pattern.  More pictures will follow.

But for now, back to work!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Acquisitions and Organizations

I spent a bunch of the day doing two things:  acquiring more groceries and putting them away.

The acquiring wasn't too difficult--went to Costco and spent a small fortune on snacks, it seems.  And bread and butter, which are supposed to be the things that you can live on (as in, "that type of work is my bread and butter,") but it seems to be a poor man's diet to only have bread and butter.  However, I supplemented it with breakfast bars, black beans, chips, hot dogs, orange juice, and chocolate milk.  Yum.  (OK, a few other things, too.)

When I arrived home, I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to cram it all into the pantry the way it was.  Of course, the pantry has become a sort of catch-all for things.  It is, after all, the walk-through area from kitchen to garage, and stores our washer and dryer (whoever thought *that* was a good idea should be imprisoned under the house, but first you have to gut the closet under the stairs--which has no light--to get to it).  It has such things as normal as cookbooks and those "necessary" appliances (like the bread maker, the rice cooker, popcorn popper, and a panini maker--a gift from aunt & uncle that we haven't used in the four years we've owned it), pots that are too big to fit in the cupboard, food storage containers (two boxes), lightbulbs (many sizes and shapes), disposable dinnerware (paper plates, etc), and cleaning supplies.  It also houses such unusual items as a backpack of toddler toys, family-heirloom art (not valuable, just personal), reloading supplies, a giant padded curtain (from the old house to keep the room warm), shop tools, a box of items destined for Goodwill, and arts & crafts supplies.  There isn't room enough for all these "treasures", so some of them will have to find a new home--either within our home or outside of it.

As it is, I threw out two bundles of aluminum poles from pop-up shelters that are no longer serviceable that were collecting dust in the garage.  What I didn't know for sure was what to do with them--do they go in the trash or the recycle bin?  They are aluminum...but can they be recycled?  I think I might just pitch them in the garbage and be done with it.  I have to try to not feel guilty about it, though...very difficult after 20+ years of guilt and indoctrination on behalf of the Environmental Movement.  I'm all for doing the right thing for conservation and clean air & water, but MAN!  I'm tired of the harping...aren't you?

I spent a good hour or more reorganizing the pantry, only stopping because I had to get dinner started.  Unfortunately, I only got three shelves done and a fourth one started.  With two gorilla racks and a side wall, I have several more to go.  I don't know if pictures will be necessary when I get done, but I will feel a great sense of accomplishment when it IS done.

I also hung up three of my framed SCA scrolls.  Yes, I'm that much of a geek.  What's sad is that I have at least three more that need to be hung up and another one that needs a frame.  Big geek.  And proud of it.  That'll be fine--I can stop by Michael's and also take a moment to duck into the used bookstore and see if they have any of the Folk Sock books.  Just curious and wanted to page through them to see if they'd be worth buying.

It took a while, but I did find the scanned pictures from the Fancy Feet book that Stasi loaned me.  I decided I wanted to make a pair of socks from it using the red and yellow alpaca yarns I picked up in Portland when I met up with Heide several months (a year?  More?) back.  It's soft as silky goodness and they're going to feel SOOOO nice on my feet...thing is, I'll be afraid to wear them!  Of course, I'm starting this just before I have to make a bunch of tunics for my long-lost middle school friend, Chad (who just resurfaced thanks to Facebook and his SCA pictures), and I was volun-told to be the secretary for the quilt guild up North.  It seems that 3 of the 7 board members have suddenly resigned in the past few months...for whatever the old faithful Patchwork Pirates have picked up the pieces and are going to pull it back together.  I have no idea what's going on, but I bet I'll find out shortly!

Ooops...I was supposed to make an apron for Cammie for the play.  Hm.  I guess I'll do that in the morning.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Early Father's Day Present

In the past many years, I've had problems coming up with gifts for Kelly for birthdays, Christmas and Father's Day.  I don't know what electronics he wants or needs, or what gizmos he'd be interested in, and generally when I try, I get the wrong thing--not the right size, the wrong technology, or simply something he doesn't need.  Disappointing, to say the least.  Sometimes when I DO find the perfect gift, he's able to guess it without opening the wrappings, which takes all the fun out of it.  I needed to be a little more creative.

This year, while pondering what I could get, I decided that what he really needed wasn't going to cost money (a plus for us now since we just did a bunch of work in the kitchen, and the kids' bathroom is next for repairs), and would benefit us both; help cleaning up and organizing his shop space. This was also a benefit for me, since I was working on the yurt and couldn't navigate around the area or find the tools I needed.  I was tripping over cords and bits of wood, and having trouble finding places to stack the 150 or so khana pieces and get the 88" long sticks loaded into the drill press.  It was frustrating and claustrophobic.  

I started to work in the back area, stacking the boxes and cases neatly onto shelves, sweeping up, and hanging tools on the walls.  I mostly cleared off the work bench, made more walking space, and put tools where they can now be more easily found.  There's still more work to be done, but I gave Kelly a sneak preview of my progress...since I couldn't very well hide it or ask him to stay out of his work area for the next two weeks.  He's very impressed and (hopefully) motivated to continue the trend.  Not everything could be put away--I don't know what some of the tools even *are*, much less where to put them, so I have to rely on him to finish some parts of it, and maybe he'll have a better way of organizing it so he can find things better, but I'm trying to at least put like items together and throw away garbage.

It might still look a mess, but believe me, this is a huge improvement.  I'll work on it a bit more over the next few days and see if I can make this a very workable space.  However, there is a limited amount of space--it's a single car garage space--so unless you plan on moving some of the tools out, there are limitations to what you can really work on.  Luckily, my very smart husband put several of the tools on tables with lockable casters, so you *can* move them around easily, and even move them into the driveway to work in the sunshine, if you wish.  On rainy days, though, we really need to have a space to roll the things to so they don't get wet.  This is going to require a lot more garage cleaning so we can roll them to the other part of the garage (which means temporarily parking the car in the rain).  We've got a ton of stuff to throw out or donate...ugh.  Box springs, several boxes of forgotten books, the weird "misc" boxes from the move, and more.  I need a pick up truck.

Tomorrow is going to involve more grocery shopping (I've got coupons!), Walmart, Costco, and re-organizing the pantry.  It's become almost unworkable, but weird things keep winding up in the pantry, like Christmas decorations, tools, cleaning materials, and stuff that has to go to Goodwill.  Time to purge the space with a good Spring Cleaning!  Maybe I'll be able to squeeze in a run to Goodwill before school gets out.  It'll be a busy day, in any case.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Girl Scout Saturday!

We spent Saturday at the horse farm for a lesson and  trail ride.  All the girls were really excited about it, and there were dozens of other girls from different troops there also taking part in the Girl Scout day.  We arrived early and got fitted for helmets and some borrowed boots with a heel (those of us with bigger feet didn't require it because our feet won't slip through the stirrups like those little feet can).  

The girls all posed in front of this impressive beastie, tied up in the shade of the evergreens.  Eight of these girls are from my troop, and the 9th girl is Miss O, who was invited to join the outing. I gave each of them a dark green bandanna to mark the occasion (and make identification easier, should they get separated or lost).

They had the girls line up according to height, and assigned the smaller girls to ponies.  One of the girls, Miss M, was assigned the sassy Piper, who wants to be the lead pony.  We had trouble with him later...  Cammie requested to ride her new buddy, Cinnamon, and luckily, he was saddled up and ready to go!  This pic was actually taken at the end of the ride.  

I also requested my favorite guy, Kidd, who was also ready to go, although they needed to get a saddle with shorter stirrups on it.  Yep, my legs are really that short.  The other moms joked that I needed a kid saddle for my short legs, but the instructors insisted it's really an adult saddle with better adjustments. It wasn't the saddle I usually use, that's for sure.

They led us over to the outdoor arena where they walked us through the horse basics of steering, stopping, turning, and a little bit of trotting.  When it was my turn to trot with Kidd, the pony behind me decided he was going to go, too, much to Miss M's surprise.  I stopped quickly and so did Piper.  We're hoping that she'll remember this as a happy surprise, not a scary surprise.

Here's Cammie getting fitted to the horse's saddle--stirrups shortened and everything cinched up tight.

She rides with a lot of confidence and is really enjoying it!  After a short walk around the arena, she was asking if we could trot.  "No, not yet...we have to practice turning, stopping and backing up first."  Patience, grasshopper....

We went for a long trail ride through the woods.  Kidd was being sassy and stopped every few feet to eat ferns.  I didn't let him when I wanted to keep walking, so he continued to walk right on the edge of the path, and thus, right next to the trees, so he could grab a bite any time we slowed down.

At the end of the trail ride, we walked over to where they had our buddy, Blaze, tied up.  There she did a basic horse care lesson on brushing, saddling, hoof and teeth care, etc.  Then they spent some time doing some of the brushing, then fed him a lot of grass.

It was a long and very fun day!  We'll have to do that again soon.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blast from the Past

Because a friend in Portland is restoring her turn-of-the-century house and looking at period window blinds, I have included a couple of pictures for her perusal.  It just happens to have my Mom and sister in the foreground.

On the far right, the folding blinds were in four pieces for each window, hooked in the center, and each panel had the blinds that opened and closed with a single wooden bar.  Note the original stained wood throughout the house...the original dining room built-in...and the door behind Tara's head was to the entryway which went to the front door and the large walk-in closet for coats, boots, skis, ice skates, sleds, etc.  I'd love to have that house now!  Just...not in Oshkosh.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What's up Wednesday...?

Just a few pictures to test the upload features on this blog...things changed a little bit since I started the other one.  Unfortunately, there are a bunch of pictures in my computer that uploaded funny and duplicated themselves in this era of cameralessness; the phone uploads things but it seems to grab pictures from all my FB friends' profiles and makes multiple bad copies of the originals, so I don't know which one I should post.  I don't know why.

This is me and Bekah at the very rainy Sounders game a few weeks ago.  The bright green rain coats were cheap but durable, so they can be used again later, if necessary.  Bekah and I look like we could be related, don't we?  In case you can't figure it out, I'm the one on the right.  Looks like Kelly and I might be going to the Whitecaps game, which should be FUN!  The Vancouver team is new on the MLS roster this year, as are the Portland Timbers, and they're not the best team on the fact, so far, they have a total of 9 points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie, 0 for a loss) to the Sounders' 22 points.  Sounders are in 3rd place now--the top team has 29 points.  There's still quite a few games left in the season, so anything could happen.

Emma in her pink kimono.  I made this for her math fair, and I later added an obi (wide belt) that completes the ensemble.  She has indicated that this is now her chosen SCA costume.  I'll have to make some in other colors and make some appropriate undergarments for Japanese women's costume as well.  My next costuming project is a commission for a middle school friend that I recently reconnected with who joined the SCA a few months ago.  He has asked for five or six tunics in linen, but the first of which is a muslin mock-up that I will have to mail to him to try on before I start chopping into some more pricey linen.  I may make him a tunic in wool, too, for the winter months.  Since he lives in the midwest, heavy tunics are not a requirement for camping as it is here on the coast.
Let's see...what else...I read a book.  My Dad recommended "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein.  It takes place in Seattle, and the story is told from the perspective of a dog named Enzo, owned by a race car driver.  It's very good, funny, but sad at times.  I loved it, although I'm not really a dog person--I mean, I LIKE dogs, but I don't want to own one.  Ever.  I grew up with dogs and have fond memories of them but I know how much work they are and I really don't have any interest in taking on the expense of vet bills and all the extra cleaning that goes with dog hair and poop-scooping.  Also, I just found out I'm allergic to dogs.  Oh well...the book is great!  Highly recommended!

My girl scouts are now Juniors!  They had their bridging ceremony last week, and it turns out that all but one of them wants to continue...the one sitting "Billy Bob Joe", is the only one who is not continuing on.  Also, I found out that three other girls in their grade want to join.  We've gotten two of the three applications back, so we'll have an even dozen girls in the troop next year.  I don't know what we're going to do--they're changing almost everything and the handbooks don't come out til September, so we're joining to have a steep learning curve at the beginning of the school year.  

Also, we're making progress on the yurt.  So far we've cut a big pile of 3/4" sticks out of 2 x 2 stock, and we're starting to drill holes into them to make the walls.  This lattice is called the khana, which is essentially a giant baby gate.  We also have to finish cutting the rafters for my yurt (Jen and Darby have cut theirs already).  After that, we have to build the tono (the roof smoke hole that connects to the rafters), which may prove to be the most difficult part, and the door frame and door.  Then, finally, we have to sew the roof canvas and cut the wall canvas to length.  We're hoping that these will be done in time for camping in mid-July, and then taking it to Pitt camping in mid-August.  

I'll keep you posted on further progress on this and other stuff.  Happy Wednesday!