Thursday, January 30, 2014

More Beads and Weaving Stuffs

I've made quite a few beads!  Some are really nice!

And some are pretty they are rather experimental, so don't abuse the artist too much.  I was trying to make some Islamic Folded Beads, but found that they are tedious and don't always turn out right.  I started another technique that involves using a pointy tool, much like a dental tool, but thicker and stronger.  I made the core of the bead then added stripes and dragged the tool over the surface of the glass, deforming the stripes.  These turned out pretty cool, but others didn't do as well.  Some have a fatal flaw that causes...well...

...sudden bead death.  If they don't get into the vermiculite fast enough, they cool down too quickly, which causes stress fractures.  I could glue it back together, but there's no telling if other fractures might appear later.

The perle cotton tablet weaving is coming along.  I have about a yard done so far on this particular piece.  The threads are pretty fine (#8 DMC perle cotton, found at any fabric or craft store) and slick, which makes the cards turn so buttah!  The cost of materials is a bit higher, but not astronomically high.  We're talking about $12-15...maybe more if I need to use another $3 skein of thread for weft...instead of $3-5 for an entire project.  Yeah, it's about triple or quadruple, but still cheap for what it is.  I could still sell it for $60-75 for the four-yard length.  It's not the cost of materials, but the time invested; something that many people don't value in today's machine-produced society.

My plans in the not-too-distant-future (say, summer) is to build something like this:
warp-weighted loom
And I can hear you saying..."Um...why?"  Um...'cause.  It goes with my sheep-to-shawl plan.  You know...take the fleece from the sheep and turn it into a wearable garment.
1.  Make loom.
2.  Spin fibers.
3.  Weave into cloth.
4.  Make something from cloth, like a 10th century Danish apron dress.
If I can finish all that by next January, I can enter things into Kingdom Arts & Sciences.  I was told (by a supportive artisan friend) to enter three things:  loom, woven stuff and beads.  I think I can do it...but I'm going to have to do some serious work over the summer.  January is the deadline to submit the proposal and request to the King & Queen.  The arts event is in March, usually the first or second weekend.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

New Year's Hit List

As some of you know, I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions.  Most people resolve to do things like lose weight or eat better or clean more.  Boring stuff.  I decided instead to make a list of things I want to learn and do this year.  These include:

  • Build a loom.  I have the pattern to make it, but need to cut out the pieces and put them together.  I have the rigid heddle already.
  • Make a garment, "sheep to shawl".  This means spin the yarn, weave it into cloth, full the cloth, then make a garment.  Maybe a hood or sleeves.
  • Learn brocade card weaving.  I was taught once, but I forgot how to do it.  The weaving I do now is called threaded-in weaving and has some limited patterns that can be done.  Brocaded patterns are done by picking the threads, more like tapestry weaving.  
  • Learn to make cheese.  There's a guy down in the Portland area that makes cheese at home using ingredients from the local grocery store.  I want to learn to do that!
  • Make a Tudor outfit--all the pieces from shift to kirtle to gown to waistcoat.  This goes along with the Scholar rank in the Costumer's Guild...which is rather defunct now, but I'm sure that I can get a few judges locally to review the work and give me an honest opinion.  I suggested that our local costumers kind of take over the guild, but we'll have to see how things pan out.  I finished the Junior, Senior and Journeyman ranks, so I now want to go for the highest rank--Scholar.  You can do as many as you want, focusing on different cultures and time periods.  I'm going to start with Tudor England (1500s) and at the same time, do some clothes for 1300s Viking/Greenland.
  • Make rush lights from sheep fat and reeds, the "candles" of the peasants in the Tudor era.  They don't provide a lot of light, but it was cheap lighting using leftover fats and grasses you find growing everywhere.  
  • Try to make a wattle fence...probably just a little one.  Maybe around the garden I want to start.
  • Plant a very small garden with peas, leeks, lettuce and carrots.  Maybe potatoes? 
  • Teach more classes in the SCA.  Part of the scholar level costumer's thing requires teaching or writing.  I have one class that I taught on Pattern Drafting, so I have to do at least one more--up to 4 total can be applied to any one Scholar rank challenge--to complete the requirements.

Meanwhile I have to come to terms with the fact that I have, in fact, too much fabric.  I need to do something with it all.  Maybe not all this year, but I need to make a significant dent.  There is a UFO challenge in our guild and I would like to try to make a dent in that, at least.  I figure one a month would be a good start.  So, 12 UFOs that I want to finish:

This is a Civil War scrappy quilt I started ages ago.  Maybe even before we moved--so we're talking 7 years now.  It got buried for a long time, but it was unearthed when I mucked out the closet.  Blocks were sewn into fours, but now I need to sew them into a big top, add borders, quilting and binding.

Scrap Bin Jacob's Ladder--or a simple variation.  Maybe Jacob's Step-Stool.  It needs a simple border, quilting and binding.  Actually, I just was reminded, it's called Jewel Box.  Sharon made one similar to this about 15 years ago.

Children's Hospital quilt.  Now, before you get the wrong idea, this is not to be given to Children's, but was made there while I sat with Ben in the hospital room.  Well, technically, it was started when we spent a couple weeks in the RV before we moved here.  That was when we first put our house on the market.  We got it all cleaned and ready for show and left the house for two weeks for the real estate people to go in and out whenever they wanted and not have us do any last-minute cleaning--the stash-and-dash treatment--before a prospective buyer walked through.  It was a great idea...the people who ended up buying it came through during that time frame and made an offer a few days after we got back.  The kids and I spent two weeks in an RV park nearby hubby's work place (more than an hour away from the house being sold) so we could drive around and get familiar with the community and have a "vacation" away from the house.  I brought the sewing machine and one project with me to work on and I assembled a number of blocks.  When Ben was in the hospital in 2012, I brought this with me to finish.  I got the top done, which is the same size as the bed in the hospital.  I think it needs a small border, quilting and binding.

Pineapples.  I started these blocks forever ago and finally got enough blocks together, I think, to finish it.  Or at least finish enough of it.  It's so pretty and I just want to get it done, but I don't want to make any more of these blocks.  It was a PITA sewing them (paper piecing) and then removing all the paper.  Bleh.  Let's get 'er done!  Needs assembly, borders, quilting and binding.

Four-patches for charity.  This is one of the quilts I made that will be going to the guild's collection for Seattle Children's.  I needs one or two more rows of 4-patches, quilting and binding.

Little Civil War thing.  I wanted to make this bigger, but I lost the pattern.  I could draft it again, but I remember that it was a troublesome pattern, so I might just add a couple borders--a strip of something and a block border--and call it done.

Stack and Slash stars.  I started this around the time we moved here, I hung it up on the wall when I was finished.  Miss Rosie came to visit us that weekend, and a few weeks later, she passed away.  I had a hard time taking it down for a long time.  It's been 7 years, so I think I need to finish this now.  Maybe I'll give it to Emma.  Just needs quilting & binding.

Scrappy 9-patch.  I meant to finish this for another quilt show but didn't get it any further along than where it is in this photo.  Might need a small border, then quilting and binding.

Modern Racing Stripes.  This was a quick thing I did with the 2 1/2" pre-cut strips.  Simple throw quilt.  Needs quilting and binding.

Emma's Japanese one-block wonder.  Just needs a binding.


Quilt is done on this purple pinwheel quilt--made with purple squares coupled with charm squares swapped from the Busy Bees guild.  Just needs binding.

Red, White & Blue Number.  I think this is a block that we made from a retreat I went on a few years ago.  It needs a small border, I think, then quilting & binding.

I got a bunch of Friendship Quilt blocks done yesterday and today.  One of them was so great, I want to make a billion of these blocks!  OK, maybe not a billion...but lots.  It's simple strips of fabric and white squares.  Apparently, one 2 1/2" strip of 44" wide fabric will make this one block, so you can make two or three from one fat quarter.

That's about it for today...tomorrow, I might need to make some historic-reproduction beads for the event next weekend.  I need to build a display for the event and have some pieces on display with dates and locations.  I have to find my book that has all the examples.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Knitting Faux-lympics!

A couple years ago, a news article came out that brought to light a cease-and-desist letter sent by the US Olympic Committee to the Ravelry community who had, for the last several years, hosted the Ravelympics on their web site.  This letter was published and it angered a lot of knitters.  According to the Olympic board, "We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games.  In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work."  (Here's a great article on the subject that's worth a gander.  Also, just for fun, a letter from Starbucks to a brewery over the name of one of its concoctions...)

I think we can all agree that this is this a bunch of complete nonsense and a waste of valuable time and resources.  I have the utmost respect for Olympic athletes and I can't possibly even come close to competing against them.  I couldn't win against them in a race to the bathroom, much less down a ski slope or around a skating rink.  But a crafting competition named similarly to the world's most illustrious sporting events to participate in *while watching* would not hurt anyone's feelings--least of all the fastest, strongest, most agile competitors our planet has to offer--and it was a slap in the face to all knitters who have spent years honing their skills, some of them actually competing for prizes and recognition in their own smaller world.  None of it is televised and few are sponsored, so the expense is totally on the competitors to foot the bill!

What the USOC should have said was, "What a creative way to challenge each other in your craft AND help improve our ratings at the same time!  While we would have rather you asked our permission to use 'lympics' and the logo, we will grant you permission to use them as long as no organization and no one person is benefiting in a monetary way."

Now, apparently, the USOC apologized in a follow-up letter that read, in part:
“Thanks to all of you who have posted, tweeted, emailed and called regarding the letter sent to the organizers of the Ravelympics.
“Like you, we are extremely passionate about what we do. …
“The letter sent to the organizers of the Ravelympics was a standard-form cease and desist letter that explained why we need to protect our trademarks in legal terms. Rest assured, as an organization that has many passionate knitters, we never intended to make this a personal attack on the knitting community or to suggest that knitters are not supportive of Team USA.
“We apologize for any insult and appreciate your support. We embrace hand-crafted American goods as we currently have the Annin Flagmakers of New Jersey stitching a custom-made American flag to accompany our team to the Olympic Games in London. To show our support of the Ravelry community, we would welcome any handmade items that you would like to create to travel with, and motivate, our team at the 2012 Games.”

Whatever, USOC.  Guess what?  You don't have exclusive rights to the word "Olympics".  I don't care what that 1978 lawsuit says.  You know where I live?  Washington State.  The capitol is Olympia.  My in-laws live on the Olympic Peninsula.  Just a few miles from my house, you can see the Olympic Mountains.  I even worked at a place call the Olympia Village.  You want to stop people using the word "Olympic", you'll have to talk to the Government of Washington State about changing the names of mountain ranges, cities, roads, businesses and other geographical locations.  Good luck with that. 

Here's what I propose...It's not the Ravelympics; there are no organized competitions.  BUT, in the Olympic spirit, I hope to challenge you during these most austere games, to reach high and aspire to your own lofty goals and improve your "game" while watching and cheering on our nations finest athletes!  With the utmost respect to the athletes, coaches and judges, and to the time and commitment that they all undertake to reaching these games, I challenge you all to participate in the Faux-lympics!  

We will not be competing in Scarf Hockey or a Sweater Biathlon, but you choose your project, set your own goals, cast on during the opening ceremonies, and try to finish by the closing ceremonies.  One friend already said, "I better just do a dishcloth--I don't know if I'll have time to complete a larger project!"  Whatever you think you can do!  Go for gold!

I'm planning on doing something like this; a huge challenge for me.  I've never made a sweater that I could wear (OK, one, but it was in college and it was hideous), and I haven't done much two-color work...a couple pairs of socks.  OK, five pairs.  But it includes steeking, a technique I've never done, and I may have to increase it in size (it has S-M-L, no XL or XXL).  And although the original pattern is in Norwegian, it has been translated to English (so here's hoping it was done well!)  The great thing is that it has a free pattern here.  There are tens of thousands of free patterns on the garnstudio site, so just about anything you want to knit is there!  Great search engine, too!   Go check it out!

I haven't yet chosen my tools and materials (equipment), I'll have to do a couple of test swatches and watch some YouTube videos (training) and consult my fellow skilled knitters (coaches), maybe even find a sponsor (DH!) and start on my road to bringing home the gold!  Or at least a pat on the back!

Only four weeks to go...are you ready?  Get set!  GO!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

On the 12th Day of Christmas...I put all the crap away

There it is...all packed up for another 300 days.  The kids had a great time putting all the stuff out, assembling the tree, hanging the stuff on the "branches" and wrapping garland around the stair rails...and I got to stuff it all back in the buckets.  There were a few things that failed to make it into the buckets last year that ended up floating around the house for a year.  I think I got MOST of it put back this time.  I'm still waiting on a couple of stockings to be put into the top bucket, then it'll all go back out to the garage.

I've been giving it some thought, after stuffing it all in the buckets, that I might need to get another bucket.  There is one more that isn't pictured here that we didn't even pull down this year.  Clearly I already have too much stuff, but a couple of the buckets are so full, you have to put a heavier bucket on top of it to keep it sealed.  I either need to thin out the collection or spread it out a bit more.  I think I'll ruminate on it for a year.

Yesterday I was dragging my fanny all day after getting only four hours of sleep.  I knew if I took a nap, I'd feel better, but then I might have trouble getting up to fetch kids or more trouble getting to sleep the next night.  SO...I just dragged all day.  I got some work done on my Costumer's Guild Scholar challenge (which I won't actually be able to challenge until there's a Costumer's Guild...but you steps).  I've decided to do early to mid 1500s Tudor Working Class woman's costume.  I also want to do a full costume for Kelly, which I actually *started* and *planned* some maybe I'll do that first...or at the same time.  Why not?  I'm an expert at multi-tasking.

Monday, January 6, 2014

8th-11th days of Christmas

On the 8th day...Bekah came over and she helped measure me for a body block.  "What's that?"  You say?  It's a pattern for making clothes!  You measure the usual stuff--the waist, bust, shoulders and torso length, then you also measure your side seam (from waist to armpit) and your shoulder rise, and you map it all out on a piece of paper like this:

Many thanks to Mistress Laurellen from the Renaissance Tailor for this image.  I took her class several years ago and no only is she an excellent teacher, she makes the most AH-MAZING clothes!  She sells some things on her web site, too.

Bekah helped me draw it out on cheap fabric, cut it out, sew it together, fit it some more, and eventually come up with a fabric pattern that I can use to make garments from.

So, what am I doing this for?  Well, I'm glad you asked!  It's for a 12th Night Tudor gown.  Not a chemise.  Not a kirtle.  Not a doublet or a pair of bodies (aka a "bodice").  Not a (Never again!)  It's for a gown.  What's the difference?  Let me walk you through the layers.

The corset, you probably guessed.  It's the foundation garment.  Unlike the Victorian corset, the point of this piece is not to look SKINNY or curvy, but to look flat.  Tubular.  Totally.  Like, Ohmygod!

(This is not me...I borrowed this image from to show both the very nicely made corset, the lightweight chemise underneath, and the Spanish farthingale (hoop skirt) that gave the Tudor fashions their silhouette.  Apparently, they make and sell these things on their web site, so if you're in the market...there you go.  Many thanks to tudortalkandcatwalk!)

A chemise is the underdress.  It's loose and made of a lightweight linen using rectangular construction.  This is the part that will be touching your skin, absorbing body oils and sweat and will be washed the most.  The outer layers are often more delicate and can't tolerate the abuse of frequent washing.  Corsets, for example, are filled with metal, wood and/or reeds for rigidity.  In the case of the nobility, the gowns and jackets were often made with lace, gold and jewels that would have to be removed for washing and then sewn back on.  Time consuming and laborious, and delicate things like lace could be damaged in the removal, so best not do it unless it's absolutely necessary.  The chemise is usually a long-sleeved garment that reaches the knees or thereabouts and can be heavily embroidered, though more often, it was plain.  Some people like to make them full-length, but from what I've been able to gather, it's not typical for the chemise to be that long on women.  Makes sense...just more stuff to get in the way when you're trying to pee.

A kirtle is a sleeveless (usually) dress that can be one or two pieces--that is a long, straight gown or a bodice with a skirt sewn to it.  The straight kirtle might also serve as a maternity gown--I made one when I was pregnant and it was roomy and comfortable.

Here's a fancier two-piece kirtle with side lacing and trim around the neckline.  It has a straight placket in the front and is heavily gathered around the rest of the dress.  On a warm day, or if you were a working-class woman, this might be all you need.  After all, you need to roll your sleeves up to wash clothes in the river, work in the kitchen or rake hay in the fields.  Throw an apron over the top and you're good to go!

Now, the GOWN, which is the one I'm making, is the layer that goes over the kirtle that has sleeves.  For the upper-class woman, like this portrait of Katherine of Aragon shows in 1502, the sleeves were long and bell-shaped...perfect for doing absolutely nothing!  They also appear to be lined with white fur, although it could be velvet.  The gal in gold even has the skirt turned up in the back to prove that it's FULLY LINED and isn't just a strip along the edge.  Show-off.  The gal in the red-orange has a green kirtle under the orange dress.  All three are wearing a black partlet under the gown.  At some point, the partlet turns into a layer that goes over the gown, like a sweater.

Or she might have worn some tight-fitting sleeves and the turned-back cuffs, like this the details of the construction on this bodice, including the square armpit seams...

But the working class woman kept things simple, close to the body and able to roll up out of the way. Over-sleeves were even tied on so they could be removed completely. Not sure what's going on with short arms and her enormous hands, though.

Now you can't stop staring at them, can you?  Creepy, isn't it?  That cat is seriously ticked off, too.

So on the 9th day, I mostly just sat around.  Kidding.  I pulled out the green linen, took a big breath, and cut into it.  I only made the body part of the gown, sewed the pieces together in the green linen as well as the lining, and set it aside.  More fitting would be done the next morning.

I also put together most of a newsletter for the quilt guild.  Darn helium hands.  At least I foisted off the majority of the work (taking notes, attending meetings) on another guild member, so I can do all the work from home in my spare at 1:30 in the morning when I can't sleep.  6:30 is going to show up awfully early tomorrow.  Sigh.

So on the 10th day of Christmas, I got a visit from my friend, Rachel.  She's renting Omi's house with her husband, John (and seeing a couple of ghosts now and again...but that's a longer story).  Rachel helped do the final fitting on the gown bodice and helped with the sleeve pattern.  I hadn't made a really successful pattern, but she showed me a couple tricks and now I've got it!  Boo-yah!  I might even write a paper on how it was done and submit it to the Barony's newsletter.  I got the sleeves sewn on to the bodice and then cut the pieces for the skirt.  (I only have about a half-yard left of the fabric, which might not be enough for more than a small tunic for Ben.  Maybe I'll make a short-sleeved tunic for him.)

Here it is hanging out, letting the fabric settle before hemming it to length.  Rachel recommended that I hang it so that if the fabric was going to stretch from gravity, it would get it all out of the way before I hemmed it and started wearing it.  Then I wouldn't have the surprise of having it grow in length and drag in the mud or get in the way as I trip over it all day.  Gooooooood thinkin'!  I also need to add hooks and eyes up the front of the dress, hem up the cuffs, and then it will be DONE!  I may add some decorative touches to it later, but it's meant to be a working woman's outfit, which many of them weren't decorated heavily.

On the 11th day, I forgot about the A&S gathering at the cafe, but I finally got out the door 90 minutes late.  By the time I got there, they were already breaking up and heading home.  I said hello to a couple people who were only there a minute or two before heading out, but chatted with Rachel for about 30 minutes discussing what we'd like to see happen with the costumer's guild--both locally and at Kingdom.  The Kingdom office mostly fell apart from lack of volunteers, which I totally understand.  If I were free of Ithra, I might be willing to take this on--at least the guild challenges part.  Finding judges and setting up contests would be fun, but not running the whole guild.  I need to train up my replacement for Ithra and move on, I think.  As much as I love doing what I do, I think it's time.

So...when I got home, I took the weaving project apart that I was working on with the 6-hole cards and reduced it to a 4-hole card project.  I have the wrong kind of loom for the 6-hole cards.  Someday...but not now.  I started weaving the Tiwaz trim (a letter in the Runic alphabet, and also a symbol for the god, Tyr) for my friend, Tyrssen.  The letter is sideways, but looks very much like an arrow, pointing up.  It's a really straight-forward pattern; 4 turns forward and 4 back, so it's chugging right along.  I should have it done in just a couple days.

Tomorrow is the 12th Day of Christmas.  The kids go back to school.  I'll take the tree down and put the decorations away.  I'll also do some laundry, clean beads and maybe do a little weaving.  Not a really exciting day, but given that I'm not going to get much sleep tonight, I'm not surprised.

Soon...packing for 12th Night!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

12 Days of Christmas (or at least the first 7 days)

On the first day of Christmas, my little loves did with me...
OK, we already did that on the last post.  Kids.  Gifts.  Apple crisp.

On the second day of Christmas (26th)...we headed over to visit my in-laws and let the kids open gifts.  We stopped giving gifts to adults (mostly), although Kelly and I did give gift cards to each family to go to the theater.  We also have the cousins get together for the annual photo in front of the tree.  My three kids (seated on chair), Nate (standing), Aurora & Aaron (seated).  Nate & Cam are in the same grade (different schools, of course) and have been bosom buddies since they were toddlers.  Ben and Aurora are about the same age (I think Miss A is a year or 18 months younger).  Aaron is now in his young 20s and will be getting married to his high school sweetheart soon!  (She's not pictured here...I didn't get any photos of her...bad auntie.)

On the third day of Christmas (the 27th), we had dinner at the local Asian buffet place with the in-laws.  Cam decided that she wanted to try a whole cooked mackerel.  She ate quite a bit of it, which was surprising since it's such a strong-flavored fish.  She's brave, that one.  Crystal wondered if they shared any genetic material at all (she's a self-proclaimed picky eater).  Cammie may not like everything, but she's certainly willing to try lots of things at least once.  She's turned into quite the chef, too...I got her a copy of the 1930 (reproduction) of the Joy of Cooking.  I hope she finds lots of inspiration in it!

We hit the ferry to head back home.  We had some time at the ferry docks, so we wandered around the park to look at the lights for a few minutes.  I found a Geocache there, which I had tried to find once before.  The trick--bring a flashlight to those night-hunts and trust the Geosenses.  It was right where I thought it was but couldn't see it without the flashlight.
When we got home, I found this in the mail!  What is it?  Most of you will recognize the metal piece in the plastic envelope--it's a sewing machine foot for the Brother XL 2600 that I got for Emma several years ago.  She lost the original foot a few years ago, but I found a web site that sold replacement parts.  I also needed to get a bobbin cover, which also disappeared while it was in storage.  I was really excited to be able to replace this as well!

On the 3rd day of Christmas (28th)...we had a great dinner with Mom & Dad, Tara & Hollie, Andy & Courtney, and my family.  We had dinner at a nearby restaurant, which was fabulous.  They had a few issues in the kitchen, which Andy called them on (he works in a high-end restaurant up North, which has very strict standards on food quality and presentation), but they fixed it right away and everyone walked away with full bellies.

On the 4th day of Christmas (29th)...I stayed home rather than go out for breakfast with the family.  I had probably five glasses of wine over many hours (with food and I was drinking water, too), and something didn't agree with me.  I don't know if it's a sulfite thing, or any case, I won't be drinking any wine for a while.

After the rest of the fam had breakfast, they came over to open presents for Malcolm.  I got a couple of pictures of Mr. M. with his new quilt, but this one where the boys were all together was just precious.  I gave Mike & Laura the poem that goes with it, and everyone passed it around and got a giggle out of it.  I think Ben wants a copy of the poem, and I'm thinking maybe I need to take the leftover charm squares and make him a quilt, too.
Emma got a very special gift from Gramma--a bracelet that has been handed down for generations.  This was originally given to Sophia Burgwardt from Charles Krakow, possibly as a wedding gift.  It is inscribed, "C.K. to S.B Oct. 26, 1876".  According to a census, they married in about 1877 (which is an estimate based on "years married" in one of the columns in the 1900 census), so that's about right.  Mom wore it all the time as a teenager, and it barely fits Emma's tiny wrist, but it needs to have the latch and safety chain fixed to make it wearable.

On the 5th day of Christmas (30th)...Cammie decided to make Chinese food.  We made meat dumplings and were planning on making more things, but the dumplings took so much time, we cut the list back.  Cammie made a sort of beef egg drop soup with mushrooms and I chopped up a bunch of veggies and chicken for a stir fry.  We were going to make some fried rice, but that didn't happen.  Ah, well.

On the 6th day of Christmas (31st)...we had a New Year's...gathering.  I'm not sure how many people you need to have over to make it a "party", but it seems like we just didn't have enough to really make it a raucous event.  We had four--Jeanie, Bekah, Neil, and Carol.  Jean had to leave early, so it was just three guests and us.  We played a few hands of Fluxx, then watched a movie, ate my gumbo (made with Kelly's recipe) and chocolate fondue with fruit and cookies to dunk, and ended by watching a vampire show until midnight.


We watched the fireworks go off on TV around a very foggy Space Needle, which started off looking very cool, but quickly turned into a light show in the clouds.


On the 7th day of Christmas...I went Geocaching.  I wanted to see if I could find 17 to make up for the number of finds I was short for 2013...kinda sneaking in the last few I needed for the One-a-Day Geocaching challenge (find an average of one a day for the year), but alas, I fell short again.  I did find 10, but DNF (did not find) 4 that were either missing or too challenging, and by the time I came across a dead seagull by the last one I tried to find, I ran out of steam.  It was after 3 pm, and the light was starting to fade.  So, I will have to concede a failure to meet that goal, although I was very close.

I decided to try the One-a-Day challenge again for 2014, which will be a bigger challenge since I will have to go even further afield to collect them; I've gotten most of the ones that are located near my house.  Last year (2013), we did a cross-country trip with the family, which would have given me ample caching opportunities, but I got so few Geocaches...which was a huge shame.  I did get to 10 different states on our summer trip, which was an unexpected goal, but cool.  I could have spent just a couple hours more and gotten all I needed to meet this (rather silly, but still fun) goal.  Maybe we were in just too big a rush to do that properly...another four or five days to take our time...and an RV...and a scooter.  Yeah.  I'll have to make plans to do some in-state exploration or something.  I know lots of the state parks have several caches in each one, and we should try to get out and see what kinds of great things are out there in our state!  Ben has a book on National Parks, so it would be cool to do a road trip to one of those parks each year and do some Geocaching on the way.

What else?  Today I finished reading the Hunger Games series.  The first two books were pretty good, but that last book was a lot of war scenarios that I couldn't picture in my head.  Lots of running and crawling, supernatural creatures sproinging out and attacking people, streets turning into oceans of tar or turning into giant trap doors.  Lots of death and blood.  Overall, I liked the way it ended and she settled down with the guy that I figured she might, but I gotta admit, I skimmed quite a bit of the third book.  I haven't seen the movies yet, so that'll be interesting how that compares to the books.

The rest of the 5 days of Christmas will probably be filled with sewing--I need to make a couple new garments for 12th Night.  I gotta get crackin!