Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Geocaching Adventures

As part of a Girl Scout badge, I took Cammie out to find Geocaches last Sunday.  I find it really interesting that they have this badge for geocaching--a technological treasure hunt--which may be gone in a few years' time, but they have omitted just about every fiber art in existence until the girls reach high school.  However, while we have the opportunity, and since this really isn't something that can be done in huge groups, Cammie and I went on a walking adventure together in the neighborhood and found two of the three caches we went looking for.  The third was hiding a little too well and although I have since gotten more hints, the weather has not been conducive to making another attempt.  We sought out one more today but it was hiding too well and we were unable to uncover it.  It could be that because it's fall and there are leaves covering the cache, or maybe that the kids were not patient enough to wait for it to be found, especially in the rain.  I think I may just go out and find more by myself.  Since then, I went to another site and found a cute little cache that I will have to take her to later to complete her badge.  We also need to make a trade item to leave in a cache box, learn how to read the GPS tool on my phone, and help a travel bug move around to a new location.

Today I was concerned because I wanted to get a walk in, but it was raining rather hard, and while walking is beneficial exercise, I hate walking in the rain.  More than anything, I hate having wet socks and wet feet.  I ordered some new waterproof shoes from Lands End, but I can't get my feet into the shoe.  It's not that the shoe is too narrow or too short, but the actual hole to get my foot into this slip-on moc is TOO SMALL to get my foot in.  I have no idea how they managed to make a wide-width shoe that you can't fit your foot into the shoe opening.  Someone in the engineering department needs to have his head examined.  So I need to take it back to Sears and see if they can replace it.  Heck, I may have to take it to the Sears closer to Seattle since the nearest one is abysmally small.

However, I lucked out on the exercise front today since it has become a tradition for me to walk with the trick or treaters, and by some miracle, the clouds parted and the weather cleared.  We started out with just my three kids, and within a hundred yards or so, we picked up two neighbor girls, Miss K and Miss T.  Miss K is 9 and Miss T is 7, so they're pretty close in age to my younger kids.  Their grandma walked with us as we made our rounds, and about an hour in, Miss T decided she was done, so she and her grandma walked back up the hill.  We went a few houses further and Emma decided her feet hurt from the shoes she was wearing and had a large enough haul to satisfy her.  Ben, at almost the same moment, decided he was done as well.  They walked back to the house together.  So now it was just me, Cammie and Miss K.  They finished the loop around the neighborhood, filling their bags to the brim (OK, not quite to the brim for Cammie since she took an actual pillowcase from our closet...not something I would have recommended, but she had already started out before I realized what she had taken; next time, she can take a re-usable grocery bag to avoid damaging our pillowcases by dropping it frequently on the wet ground).  It took about 90 minutes to make the rounds and we were all exhausted by the time we got back.  I calculated that it was roughly 1 1/2 miles up and down the hills, so probably a grand total of 1 mile per hour, but a workout nonetheless.

Tomorrow I have nothing planned, so I may try to find a place to walk to find some geocaches--maybe around the lake, where I believe there are five hidden--and if I can find them, I'll take Cammie back there and make shorter work of the search by pointing her in the right direction and seeing if she can find them herself.  We'll also need to make some tradeables to put in the bins, or just some treasures to share with others.  I'm thinking maybe some yarn zombies or leaving some of the rubber bracelets that say Cure CF.  We bought a bunch of those things years ago with the intention of handing them out back when the rubber bracelets were trendy.  We gave a few away but we still have dozens in both kid and adult sizes.  In any case, I'll need to find larger caches and avoid the micros for a while.  They get frustrating trying to find them since they're usually about the size of a tube of lip gloss.  Maybe we'll go find one of the big 5 gallon buckets in the woods.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Time to FLY

Went to a pumpkin patch with the Girl Scouts.  We went through two small corn mazes and then picked out pumpkins.  We ran a little long on time, so it was frustrating to have to race to get back into town in time for one girl's soccer practice (we were late), but getting this many kids organized and herded into cars was very difficult.  We had a talk with them about getting going faster for the next field trip.  

Ben loved posing in this cardboard cut out of a truck.  He made me take pictures of him from each pumpkin and window on this thing.  Each cut out had a different goofy face, but this was my favorite!  He's so sweet!

We got home from the pumpkin patch with three pumpkins--I offered one to Emma to carve and she said, "No, thanks."  Well, I couldn't just leave the pumpkin uncarved, but I needed to get dinner underway, so I suggested to Bekah that she carve it, and maybe she could carve Rex Velvet into it. She looked online and found a picture of his logo, and she set to work carving it.  It looks pretty cool!  She then cleaned three pumpkins worth of seeds, which I soaked and roasted the next day.  I'm thinking maybe next year I can plant some pumpkins--I love the idea of gardening and landscaping, but I don't really care for it.  Maybe I should have married a gardener...
I made a few cakes for the Halloween carnival.  These cupcakes were heavily frosted to make a cupcake cake.  I made one for the cake decorating contest, but somehow it ended up being donated to the cake walk instead.  Either they donated ALL the non-winning cakes, or someone put it on the wrong table.  In the end, it didn't really matter--apparently a few 7th grade boys won it on the cake walk and devoured it.  At least it was well appreciated!

This one was the Graveyard cake.  I wanted to make some cool-looking headstones, but had trouble finding cookies that were the right shape and size.  I got some cheap Mother know those cookies that come in bags with the animal shapes but they're covered in that awful frosting and sprinkles?  Same brand, but they're chocolate fudge cookies.  Like Oreos, but rectangular and with fudge in the middle.  They're not bad.  I opened them up, scraped the fudge out and stuck them in the cake.  I wish I had had a fine-hole type of cake decorating tool so I could carefully write RIP and dates on the headstones, but I didn't...I just used frosting and a toothpick.  It didn't work that well, so I won't try that again.  Maybe I'll try a ziplock with a pin-hole poked in it.  

Pumpkin patch cake--chocolate & chocolate.  This frosting was originally vanilla cream cheese frosting, but I needed brown...I didn't have any brown food coloring--amazingly enough since everyone has some of that, right?  I thought about going to the store to get more, but figured I could just add some chocolate syrup to make this the flavor & color I needed.  I poured a bunch of syrup in there, and it was just vaguely tan.  Almost a grey-tan.  Gross looking, really.  Then I got out the Dutch cocoa and started dumping that in.  I got it all over the place and eventually, it got brown...and thick.  Added a few tablespoons of milk to loosen it up again.  What a pain.  It still tasted good.  Probably would have been easier to just go to the store.  Ah well.

I also made a set of cupcakes and decorated 12 of them with white frosting, M&Ms and chocolate jimmies, and the other 12 with white frosting and candy pumpkins.

At 6:00, we headed over to the school for the carnival.  Each classroom had games set up in them, which are easy enough for the little kids to play, and tickets are earned for winning games.  Those tickets can be redeemed for prizes in the prize room.  Ben had already picked out the prizes he wanted, so when he won enough tickets for those two things, he was done playing games and wanted to spend the rest of the time playing in the inflatable bouncy houses.  

Ben standing in line for the carnival games, practicing his winking.  He was frustrating when I was trying to get him ready to go--he didn't want to wear the coat that it took me more than an hour of shopping and five stores to find.  It's a little big, which was a problem I figured he'd grow into, but he wasn't convinced that it was the right fabric/cut/style/etc.  He was delighted that I found him a button-up shirt for his ensemble, and that several people recognized who he was.  

Although we dropped her off with her friend after school, Emma came to the carnival for a little while.  She wasn't wearing her big, fancy get-up, but elected to wear the more comfortable outfit that we assembled last year.  She said she didn't want to wear something so fussy and didn't want to wear the big wig and risk messing it up, so she packed the simpler costume.  Her friend decided to wear a pretty dress and the big blue wig.  They ran into their friend, Bryce, and hung out with him while they waited for Miss E's mom to finish volunteering in one of the classrooms.  Today they planned on going to the anime convention and will meet up with Emma's new friend, Miss S.  I haven't met this new friend, but I met her other friend, another Miss E, who has a prosthetic left arm.  Sometimes she wears her Hook hand, and sometimes she wears the "Creepy Mannequin Hand."  She seems like a very funny kid and they two girls have a great time together at school.

I made a costume from an old sweatshirt from a second hand store and some black fabric I had lying around.  I made a collar and created a Ringleader jacket.  I also bought a white button up shirt and a top hat, and I wore my black pants and made a ribbon bow tie from scrap fabric.  I think I spent about $10 on the entire outfit.  I didn't win the adult costume contest (again), but I got lots of compliments at the carnival.  That was great!  It turned out the prize for the contest was a whopping $5 gift card.  Woo.  

I am frustrated still with the level of cleanliness in the house.  It seems no matter how much cleaning I do, it gets trashed in a matter of hours and no amount of bribing, cajoling, punishing, manipulating, threatening, scheduling or pleasantly asking can get anyone to help me out around the house, so for a long time, I just gave up.  I clean for three or four hours, breaking my back getting it tidy, and I go to the store and return to the front room torn apart, books and coats dropped wherever they happen to land, and debris littered everywhere.  I have to create a better battle plan.  Not sure how well it'll work, but I'm going to try the FLY lady plan for a while.  The first couple of days, you just have to make sure the kitchen sink is clean.  I can do that.  However, on that first day, I went into Ben's room and boxed up over 200 books that he no longer needs (a dozen or so came from Cammie's room, too).  I posted a note on my FB page and found a home for them all with my friend, Elizabeth.  She has a toddler so she could take all the young kids books away and promised to find a home for anything she couldn't use.  EXCELLENT!  Three boxes of junk we don't need!

This week's "cleaning zone" is the master bedroom, so I did a little bit of tidying in there.  I emptied the recycle bin, pushed the drawer back under the cabinet (it broke off the track some time ago, so it just lays on the floor under the cabinet and we slide it out when we need something), and organized Kelly's dresser drawers a little.  There are a bunch of mysterious things in the bedroom that aren't mine, they're not being used but I don't know what to do with them, and they're too valuable to throw away.  One of them is some kind of pedal system for a flight simulator game.  I saw something similar on eBay that is listed for $150.  I don't like to list things on eBay, though.  Maybe we could put it on Craigslist. My next goal in there is to put away all the summer clothes in the closet and pull out all the warmer winter clothes.

I may not be perfectly successful with the FLY lady thing, but it's worth getting something started.  It suggested putting post it notes everywhere reminding me what I'm doing and positive affirmation stuff, but I don't like the idea of having post it notes everywhere, which to me looks like more clutter.  Modification is key, I think.  I'm also supposed to come up with a mantra or something I can say to myself while I clean, meditate, or while I'm sitting in the car.  She had just said, "I love you" to herself.  I've tried thinking of something that is a message of positive affirmation without sounding really corny, but I haven't come up with anything yet.

I'll take suggestions.

Friday, October 19, 2012


So you're probably wondering what I've been doing?  Up to my ass in alligators...and other creatures.

COUGARS!  Very blurry photo of Judy J's Cougar quilt. This is a rush order, so I had to bump a couple quilts in line to get it done quickly for her.  She gave me the shimmery red thread to use on the top and the poly wine-colored variegated thread for the back.  I gotta say, I still don't like the metallic threads.  It broke several times before I got the speed and tension adjusted, and in the end, it still looked sub-par on the back.  I think I need to say no more to metallic threads.  Grrr!

PENGUINS!  Or a sideways picture of penguins.  This is something from my mother-in-law, and I think it will be going to another grandson who loves the antarctic creatures.  I love the color combinations on this quilt--the blues and oranges bring out the ice, water and beaks from that otherwise bleak colors on that side of the planet. I really love the horizontal stripes that separate the rows.

MYSTERY ANIMAL!  OK, there's no animal in this quilt.  This is Violet & Joy's small scrappy quilt.  This is another original Joy design where she takes a bunch of blocks and arranges them in a unique way.  She really has a great eye for design...someday you may see her name on some books and featured on some quilting show or at Houston!

SOCCER HOOLIGANS!  Went on a mid-week date night with Kelly to the Sounders game!  It was Sounders Beanie night, so everyone who attended got a stripey winter cap to wear on the cool fall night.  Most fans already have the what's next--mittens?  Fellow ticket holder, Daniel, is away on a business trip (in Hawaii!!), so I got to be Daniel yesterday.  My first duty was to complain loudly about the cost of beverages at the stadium... "$45 for a Coke Zero!  Criminals!"  The game was frustrating--the ref that evening was Seattle's Greatest Soccer Villain, hated by Sounders fans.  Two yellow cards to a single player in a game means the player is thrown out of the game and can't be replaced--so the team plays a man short.  The game ended 0-0 with a number of angry fans chanting "Salazar sucks!"  The coach also had some scathing remarks for the cameras at half time that may end up costing him a hefty fine.

Today was a "slow" day.  Other than the usual driving the kids back and forth to school, I also did three loads of laundry, a load of dishes, mopped the kitchen floor, and sterilized all the nebulizer equipment.  THEN I got to play with fabric!  I had the 81 9-patches from scraps in my bins...and that was just a small fraction of the scraps that I have saved up.  I had cut up dark blue sashing strips, but after I had sliced up yards of fabric, I realized that I was short on fabric--not enough to do the outside sashing, and of course, the fabric I started chopping up is from quite a few years ago, so no one carries it anymore.  I'll have to substitute another fabric for the outside sashing, but it's blue-black, so just about anything will match.  After the borders, it should be 104" square--king size.  Now that I think about it, I could probably make two twin quilts instead.  With 35 blocks each, with sashing and borders, they would measure 62 x 83.

Kelly is playing some guitar playing game--the kind where you use a REAL guitar, not one with push buttons on it.  He started with a song by the Cure--"Boys Don't Cry"--and played it until I was sick of the song.  Now he's playing "I can't get no Satisfaction".  I have never, never liked that song.  The guitar rift is so monotonous!  Hopefully he'll bore of the song quickly and put me out of my misery.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

String Theories

Last weekend, I ran the Ithra, as you may remember.  While I was there, I was given a giant bucket of yarn.  Donna had gotten it from Reneta before she left for Europe (with an unknown return date, although she is back now).  It contains a lot of wool blend stuff that Donna can't use--she's allergic to wool, so she can't use any of it.  I gave several skeins of yarn to Bekah this evening and started her on a hat project.  She knows how to knit, but hadn't ever done anything in the round and wanted to learn to knit a hat, so I looked up an easy project for her and loaned her some size 4 DPNs.

Then there was this bag...also from Reneta.  This one is filled with partially finished sweaters...complete with three sets of circular needles!  There are at least two single socks and three sweaters in various states of completion, and a bunch of skeins of Fisherman's Wool.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with the partially finished ones.  There are two nice looking sleeves and I don't know if there is a sweater body that goes with it.  If I can chart the pattern of cables, I will see if I can create a cardigan to go with it.

Now I have to figure out what Donna wants for it.  Maybe I could trade her a bunch of quilting for it. Will work for yarn.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bridging Ceremony

It's been an incredibly long day today.  Alarm rings at 6 a.m. and I push the snooze a couple times and roll out of bed by 6:30.  Wakey-wakey for the young ones and get Ben started on his morning meds, get lunches packed, get everyone dressed and get homework packed back into bags, and chase them all into the car by 7:45.  Driving back and forth to the school and after a cuppa tea, fold laundry until lunch.  Eat some leftovers from yesterday and run to the store.  Three times.

The Girl Scout meeting today was all about bridging the 4th graders to Juniors.  I arrived there at 2:00, only to have to leave and return with the balloons that I had forgotten.  The girls made paper flowers, decorated the room, and rehearsed the ceremony before the guests arrived.

We had the older girls do the flag ceremony while the younger girls watched.

They received flowers, cookies, badges, and pins as they crossed the bridge.

Afterwards, they all posed on the bridge together.

And then ate a lot of "snacks".  Several girls had two pieces of cake.

The lovely cake and the antique Junior book that I borrowed to make the Retro Girl Scout Handbook.

Kelly was nice enough to make dinner so it was ready when we arrived home, and after snarfing down a few mouthfuls, I was supposed to leave immediately to get to a 7:00 meeting for Girl Scout leaders, but I just couldn't do it.  I needed to make cupcakes for Cammie's birthday tomorrow.

Now it's 8:45, more than a half-hour past the kids' bedtimes, and we're still struggling to get Ben through all his medicines, get Cammie to finish cleaning the hall before bed.  I asked her to do it last night...

There's not been much staying home for this stay-home mom.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Children of the Corn Maze

Last week, the third graders went on a field trip to a Washington state corn maze.  Due to a shortage of chaperones, I volunteered to go along to help out.
That is, the corn field was in the shape of Washington state and they had carved paths through it like the major roadways of the state.

The kids were divided into groups of four or five with a couple of adults in each group, and they were given maps with cities marked on them that had to be located with questions to be answered.  Each group were supposed to find six cities on the map following the marked roads.  Technically, the kids were supposed to do it on their own and the parents were supposed to just follow behind, but I had the most directionally challenged group of kids, so I ended up having to direct them for the last three cities.  As it was, we got to the end about 15 minutes after everyone else.

We traveled up and down I-5 and across Hwy 20 visiting small cities like Forks, Montesano, and Pullman--

Larger cities like...



and Walla Walla,

and saw such landmarks as...

the Tacoma Narrows bridge

and Stonehenge...or rather Cornhenge.  

At each "city" there was a description of some of the history of the towns and the importance of these landmarks.  Funny enough, they didn't even mention vampires at Forks.

This weekend was the Midhaven Ithra.  Ithra XX is now in the books.  Yep. 20 sessions.  It sounds like a lot when you put it like that.

This session was one of the easiest ones ever--things really flowed smoothly and fell into place.  Of the negatives, we had a room that we had reserved that had been recently painted and smelled strongly of paint fumes; it caused headaches within minutes and became unusable.  We also had two other groups come in and say they "use the space every week", but apparently the reservations person hadn't notified them that we would be there.  One was a dance group that said that if they knew we had the place reserved, they would have cancelled for this week.  But they were already there so we made space for them.  But then another group came in and was much more belligerent but decided to open up the computer room for their meeting.  Personally, I think we need to get a refund for having to give up part of the space when it wasn't part of the agreement.  We'll have to be much more specific on our contract next time.

Otherwise, we had more than 45 very happy students, and we might have had more if there wasn't an event where some fighter was getting elevated or put on vigil or something.  I don't follow these things.  Duke Paul of Bellatrix moved up from West Kingdom recently and made a special appearance at our session to teach with Duke Thorin.  We ended up getting four new students at the last minute because of that.  I opened up late registration for those two classes, although we did have a couple more people show up to take the dance classes.

I was able to take a couple classes as well as teach a couple classes.  One of the classes was awkward; the instructor seemed nice enough...especially to the Peers in the room, but seemed to talk down to me as an untitled nobody...or at least that's how it felt.  Maybe I was misinterpreting it, but there it is.

So I took a haversack class where I began this satchel.  This has only one piece sewn down--I've adjusted some of the details before appliqueing it down.  I still have to sew the body of the sack, and I think I'm going to line it also.  The wool itself doesn't seem stout enough for a sack.

I also took a Judging & Being Judged class that was quite good.  We had some interesting discussions and it seems that we have a series of classes on entering contests that will have to be taught again...perhaps this time for Ithra credit.  There were a series of classes taught last year on documentation, presentation and displays prior to the baronial A&S championship, and the instructor, who was there judging at that event, said that the caliber of entrants had been quite high--they were very well prepared and did an awesome job.  I think we need to do it again "on the record"!

I taught Cardweaving with Bekah again, which went pretty well, although we need to make a few small improvements.  I think we need to pre-cut the yarn, provide some sort of shuttles (I use a wooden ruler), and adjust the setting up of the looms.  I may have to re-engineer the looms, too.  Lots to think about and I still have to read the reviews from the students.  I entered the grades tonight (except for one dance class whose attendance sheet may have gotten misplaced into another file...I'll probably find it tomorrow when I finish unpacking).

The next thing I need to do is teach a class, or have someone else teach a class, on How To Teach an Ithra Class.  Rules, paperwork, procedures, as well as how to engage the class, pacing yourself, and addressing questions.  The big thing we've had problems with is the financial part of the classes.  Instructors are handing in receipts for $50 in photocopies, but they only charged $1 for the class.  If your handout is 30 pages long, it'll cost a lot more than a buck per student.  Other instructors are charging $6 per student and turning in no receipts.  WHY???  I don't get it.

The week begins anew in just a few hours.  Another busy week with Girl Scouts, quilt guild, and Cammie's birthday.  Here we go!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ah, the dreaded inside voice...

I got all 81 blocks done for this quilt top. 

82.  Yes, I had one left over because although I spent thousands of dollars on a university degree, I apparently can't count up to 81 successfully....or maybe I'm just an over-achiever?

I cleared off the "design wall" to lay out the blocks for a photo op.

Also known as the flannel bed sheet pinned to the wall...that I just realized is the other half of the flannel sheet set that I put on the bed and wondered where the flat sheet went...that was about three days ago...told ya I wasn't that bright....  

I carefully placed all the 9-patches on the flannel... high as I could reach...

...and stood back to take a picture.

Since there's a rather large sewing machine in the middle and I don't care for standing on chairs that both swivel and roll, I stood to the side to take this elegant shot.  By the time I stepped aside, three blocks slipped out of place.  Ah crap.  So what?  Take the picture anyway.

I have some green fabric that I plan on using for the sashing...

...that I will likely run out of 3/4 of the way through the cutting...

...and I want to frame it in more green and maybe some yellow.  I love yellow!

I also like green...and periwinkle...and rich reds...who am I kidding?

I'm a kaleidoscope of fun!

Or a kaleidoscope of psychoses!