Monday, December 31, 2007

Eating our way around EPCOT

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I was in such a hurry to get the last post out that I neglected to mention that when we got back to the room, these cute washcloth puppies on our bed greeted us. We even saw in someone else's window that they had a whole range of animals...including a turkey. =)

BTW, I am feeling better now...thank you for the well-wishing comments. I was sick pretty much from the day I got off work until just before Christmas, so it was a real bummer. The day of our church's Festival of Lessons and Carols, I stayed in bed all day until it was time to go sing (and do a short solo). I made it through, somehow!!

Monday before Thanksgiving, we started off by heading to EPCOT. We weren't going to try and ride Soarin' or the new Finding Nemo additions to The Living Sea...we were just there to hang out. And eat. Here, Michael enjoys schoolbread, from the Norwegian bakery. What's schoolbread, you ask? Oh's a sweet bread filled with custard and topped with coconut icing. Fantastic!! He's sporting a hat because direct sunlight completely drains him. It's like reverse solar energy!

For lunch, we ate at Tokyo Dining (and I actually liked the seaweed salad! I think it was nazhiki...don't ask me how it's supposed to be spelled.) They've just redone the restaurants in the Japan pavilion, and the food (and service, natch) was splendid. Take a look at that roll covered with unagi (eel)!! I've never seen eel so thick on a roll before. Our waitress suggested this one, since we couldn't decide. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Always trust your server, people. They know the food. My favorite part was watching all the cute Japanese girls' eyes grow wide as I thanked them with polite Japanese. ("Arigato gozaimasu!") They don't expect English speakers to learn Japanese and taking that extra step to learn the "proper" form of thanking a stranger always impresses.

While we were in the World Showcase, we did get to stop by and listen to a couple sets from one of my favorite a capella groups, The Voices of Liberty. They are absolutely amazing. I always get there early and plop down at the very front of the "red circle" on the floor of the American pavilion, ignoring the stares of people sitting on comfortable benches. The circle's directly under a dome, so the acoustics are phenomenal. We also wandered to the Mexico pavilion to ride the updated Rio del Tiempo, now Three Caballeros themed. It was very entertaining, but not as entertaining as the cast members loading the ride when they saw my Three Caballeros pins! "¡Los quiero!" they all exclaimed (I want them!) several times.

Two points if you know where the zeppelin below comes from (or if you remember any of the symbols on the banners in the background):
EPCOT has a cool retrospective stuffed away in a corner of Innoventions right now (near the Coke refreshment stop). They even had original uniforms.

In the afternoon, we headed to Disney-MGM Studios (soon to be "Disney's Hollywood Studios") to try and catch the High School Musical Pep Rally. I know...but what can I say? We're suckers for cheesy musicals. We didn't make it in time, but we did get to see it later in the week. Well..."see" is being kind. Michael was standing behind a 6'5" man with a child on his shoulders, who kept telling his other child (who was just in front of me, on my knees, beside the behemoth...I dove down to the ground in the only hole I could find), "Ryan! Get in there!" everytime crowd participation was called for. "Ryan" did not want to participate, and no amount of his dad's "Come on, Ryan! Sing!" whilst clapping his hands could move him. Michael told me later it was a good thing I dove in the hole, because the only chance the kids behind the jolly green giant had to see anything was over my head.

Ah, but the real reason to go to MGM is the Osbourne family Christmas lights.

Several of the streets are covered with them, and every few minutes there's a show where they are coordinated with music blared from speakers. The best is Christmas Eve/Sarajevo by TransSiberian Orchestra. HARK how the bells.... And, and appearance by Fabulous Cast Member #2...random security guy walked up to me and handed me a Disney pin! It was from the millennium celebration, but no matter! I could trade it for any pin on a cast member's lanyard!

When we arrived back at our hotel room, our terry puppies greeted us with a bound!

Food, glorious food! Woefully late, I continue to slog forward with blogging about the Thanksgiving Disney trip....

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Carol for Boxing Day

Please don't try to sing along...the words totally don't go with the meter...

In the days before Christmas, the season gave to me...

12 days Sudafed taking
11 dozen cookies baking
10 boxes ornaments hanging
9 phone wires dangling
8 hours jury serving
7 components for beading
there were earrings, too...

6 Christmas parties
5 more days of Sudafed!!
4 choir rehearsals
3 scarves for knitting

2 crates for office moving
...and a gross of ornaments on the tree.

Maybe I'll make more time to post next year...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Disney Arrival

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I'm desperately trying to find time to write about our fabulous Thanksgiving trip to Disney. At the rate I'm going, I'll be blogging about putting up our first ever outdoor Christmas lights (last night) sometime in February.

I was a little worried about crowds in the parks, but we actually went to WDW last year for our anniversary...which is in June. (Impending house purchase and expired passport nixed the trip to Italy or Spain I wanted.) It was really crowded, but because we are smart and DH is a walking map, we never waited in line over 25 minutes that I remember. And we only waited that long for a couple rides. Anyway, crowds were larger than when we usually go (September or February), but they were less than in June. And we got to see all the awesome holiday decorations. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We decided to listen to the DJs preaching impending airport doom and actually get there early (which, for us, means arriving an hour and a half before our departure time, rather than leaving the house an hour beforehand as we are wont to do). It turned out that it only took us a whopping 20 minutes to get through security, although the line was backed out to the Atrium. In fact, I think it took us less time in Atlanta than it took us in Orlando on the way back! The flight was uneventful (except we were taken by surprise by Spirit Airlines' policy of making you pay for snacks...even water!) In Orlando, we boarded the "Magical Express", which meant we did not have to touch our luggage from the time we checked it until it arrived at our hotel room (that, and we got to watch "Aladdin" as we traveled =). We stayed at Coronado Springs, which is the nicest of the Moderate resorts.

After grabbing some lunch, the Florida sun had already soaked into our brains, because against my better judgment, we went to a water park. See, we buy our Disney tickets in 10-day, non-expiring increments, and those passes always come with about six days of water park admissions, which we rarely use. So even though Blizzard Beach was closing at 5:00, and it was about 2:30, we headed over. It was actually not that cold, except the concrete. By the end of the day, I wasn't sure I could feel my toes anymore. It was a lot of fun, though, and we got to ride as many rides as we wanted due to the complete lack of lines. (Yeah, NOVEMBER at a water park will do that.) I did remember why I like Typhoon Lagoon better, though: less hills to climb and more waves in the wave pool.

I have no pictures of this expedition because DH said he wanted no photographic evidence that he drug me to a water park in 65 degree weather. Did I mention that we were both nursing colds as well? I even skipped choir practice the week before, I was feeling so much under the weather. (This is all foreshadowing, in case you don't recognize it...remember: Your Key to Quality Blogging.)

The next day, we got up and headed to The Magic Kingdom. Here we are on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (or, "The People Mover", as I am inclined to call it). We had a grand time. We wandered around, we did stuff we love, like watch the Dapper Dans perform.
We got to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean a la Jack Sparrow, and the updated Haunted Mansion (spiffy!) Here's a terrible picture of Captain Jack, who shows up thrice in the ride (along with cameos from Davy Jones--tasteful, I promise, and the coolest of effects--and Captain Barbosa):

We also rode Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, which is like being inside a giant shooting gallery (but with lasers!!) I did slightly better than DH:

Oh, yeah. That's an order of magnitude difference, for those playing along at home. =)

That afternoon we took a break from the park and headed over to The Grand Floridian for tea...after all, the park was going to be open, with Magic Hours, 'til THREE AM!!! I sadly have no pictures of the tea, which I suspect is because I was too busy snarfing the yummy treats, but it was just as lovely as last time we went. We got unexpected benefits by being the last seating, as our server let us have as much of the dessert course as we wanted (Awesome Cast Member Example #1). I even got to try the famous trifle, which is normally not part of the "standard" tea (usually you have your choice of strawberries and cream or two mini-tarts). Unfortunately, DH started to feel really bad during tea, so we were going to head home after ogling the decorations at The Grand Floridian. However, by the time we got back on the monorail, he was starting to feel a little better and suggested we go into the park "just" to see what the castle looked like lit up:

After that, we rode Pirates again, Haunted Mansion again, and Small World multiple times again. That hubby of mine: He loves him some Small World. Check out the new Pirates sign in the moonlight:

By that time, my all-time favorite Disney parade was starting...

I really can't watch this parade too many times. I even love the parade music. And look at the beautiful floats!

Some of them change color!

My favorite part is trying to get the little fish to wink at me (I was successful, but due to the jumping up and down and waving required, I have no photographic evidence =)

If you, like me, cannot get enough're in luck. This was just the first day and a half!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hop Deux

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I'm back from a wonderful week at Walt Disney World, but there are far fewer pictures to sort through from the last bit of the shop hop, so let's start there. I had grand and crazy plans for the week before leaving on vacation. Since I wouldn't be here for the final Saturday of the shop hop, I was going to try and hit the remaining 6 stores during the week. My plan was to hit the two in Roswell and Alpharetta during lunch breaks, hit the one in Woodstock on Tuesday night on the way to stitch group, and hit the remaining three on Thursday. Unfortunately, I did not anticipate my coworker being out of town that week on a business trip. Lunchtime jaunts were out. Then, there was apocalyptic traffic on Tuesday for some strange reason, so no shop visit before group. This left me with 6 shops to visit in two days, not to mention packing and running errands!!

Thursday morning I drove DH to work and then on to the shop in Roswell, Cast-on Cottage. This is one of the shops that made me very glad there was a hop. I'd never been, and it's just lovely...and it's only a few miles from where I work!! I think that if I take back roads, it's doable for a lunch break run. It's also set in the cutest little area; there's a book store/coffee shop just down the street, as well as several restaurants that look interesting. All the shops are in charming little clapboard houses, some even complete with white picket fences. With the colorful leaves on the ground, it was a pretty picture. I tried very hard to stick to my plan of only getting yarns on my list, but I was blindsided by this beautiful Jasper from Berocco:

I mean, really, what could I do? I had no idea what I'd do with it. When I got home, though, I realized I had already downloaded a freebie pattern that called for this exact yarn! (Perfect for me 'cause my arms are always cold.) I made a mental note that this shop had a lot of Rowan yarns, also much Debbie Bliss, lots for felting, and just a great variety. There's also needlepoint stuff there, in case I need something in a pinch. I couldn't make it back to that room, seemed like there was always someone in the doorway.

From Cast-on Cottage, I headed to Only Ewe and Cotton Too (great store; unwieldy name). This shop seemed to have a lot of alpaca and cashmere yarns. They also had a large amount of Tofutsies that were calling to me, and I got to fondle some ShibuiKnits yarn in person (I've been ogling it on The Loopy Ewe for a while). I managed to find some yarn on my list that I've been hunting forever: Rowan Cashsoft DK, for Odessa. The most dangerous thing about this place is the accompanying bead shop. It's not in the proximity of, not next to, but right inside. You merely have to tear your glance away from the seriously beautiful yarns (I got to see Elizabeth Lavold Silky Wool in person, too!) and they are instantly assaulted by all manner of sparkly. I showed the most amazing restraint in only purchasing two strands of beads, which accidentally managed to be perfect for Odessa (I didn't even remember the pattern called for beads!) w00t!

Oh, yeah, and I had another "slight" falling-off-the-list moment when that pesky skein of hand-painted alpaca leaped out of a basket and wrapped itself around my ankles and wouldn't let go 'til I promised it I'd take it home and had the nice man wind it. He suggested a scarf with a pattern of yo, k1, k2tog. Or was it k1, yo, k2tog?? Yikes, I can't remember. Has anyone ever done that? I may have to try both.

The only thing that kept me from browsing beads longer was my steely constitution the desire to make it to one more store!! I managed to find my way to The Whole Nine Yarns in Woodstock. It was actually a beautiful drive with the leaves changing (well, except when I was behind the dump truck). This is a very dangerous store. Lots and lots of lovely, lovely yarn...and lots of sock yarn. As I was walking into the store, I was thinking to myself, I wonder if I should call Jean? She lives so close, but I have no idea what she's doing today... I walked in the store, and lo and behold, there was Jean!!! What a fabulous surprise! After going 'round the store twice, and seeing many, many yummy yarns, I stuck to my guns and virtuously only purchased one skein of Koigu to make some sachets for my nieces for Christmas (since the cuffs didn't work out).
I am seriously in love with this yarn. If it wouldn't cause some kind of sick fiber-based adultery, I might marry it. After Jean gave me a tutorial on using a ball winder (even though her DH won't let her touch the swift at home, nay, nor even look at it), she took me to lunch, which was just great. Yarn and a good friend, what more could you ask for?? A fabulous day indeed!

Unfortunately, when I got home, I was very tired. I had skipped choir practice the night before to get some rest, but my lack of energy continued, so no packing got done Thursday afternoon. That night, it was time for a reality check. For reference, here's the shop hop map I created:

OK, so do you see the martini glass? I'm fairly close to that. See that cluster of shops? And then a few to the North? You know, Atlanta area. OK, now see that one WAY OVER AT THE RIGHT EDGE??? It's SEVENTY MILES from Atlanta. It should NOT, in my opinion, be part of an ATLANTA shop hop. But, alas, it was. When I realized that it would be about a three-hour round trip (it takes about an hour and twenty minutes to get there; nevermind stopping at the one in Snellville (an hour from the one in West Bumble to Snellville, then 45 minutes to the last shop, then 20 minutes home)), I decided to act like a grownup and give up my pipe dream of winning the $1000 worth of yarn grand prize.

I headed out to Nease's because I needed to turn in my passport, and also because I thought I remembered seeing in their newsletter that they had some locally hand-dyed yarn called Toasty. Well, it turns out I boogered that one; it was actually Needle Nook's newsletter where I read that. Nease's is kind of small, and it looked like their stock was seriously wiped out from the shop hop, so it took me a while to find something I liked. I was really looking for a sport weight yarn in a Christmas-y color, because I just got Cat Bordhi's fabulous sock book and wanted to knit her teeny practice socks in colors that would look good on my sisters' Christmas trees. I ended up buying this really beautiful Mountain Colors yarn, but I left feeling a little unhappy because it wasn't exactly what I was looking for, the shop hop was over, I hadn't filled my passport, and the staff was slightly...unsympathetic. Plus, I was feeling really ticked about that Watkinsville shop being in the hop. I'm sure it's a perfectly lovely shop, but it is by no stretch of the imagination in Atlanta. *sigh* Let's look at some wool...

Ah. That is better. All in all, though, I had a lot of fun hopping, and it could only have been improved by getting to hop with friends and getting to hop least without packing a lunch.

Stinkin' Watkinsville. But oh, the consolation of beautiful yarn....

Friday, November 16, 2007

All hopped out

I'd like to post about yesterday's (and to a vastly lesser extent, today's) shop hopping, but I have about 45 minutes to pack to go to The House of Mouse for a week. It's been a somewhat rough week: the other programmer at work was gone to a client site, DH was sick, and I am fighting off whatever he has. I'll feel OK in the morning, but by evening...ugh. Add to that general tiredness compounded by my usual quota of slack, and there you have it. I'm in a pickle. But I'm going to concentrate on the fact that I'll be on vacation for a week rather than stressing about all I didn't get done. Yeah, that's it.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hop 'til you Drop

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The first ever Atlanta yarn shop hop started last Saturday (the 10th), and runs until next Sunday. I had planned to do some hopping this weekend, since we're going to be gone next weekend to visit The Mouse. I was even going to get to hop with Jean. Then life intervened, in the form of a worship team practice from 11:00-1:00. As Jean said, "That really borks your day, doesn't it?" Since Jean had a date with a mechanic at 3 way up in the wilds of Marietta, it didn't look good for joint hopping. I was much bummed, but when I got home from practice, unfed, DH whisked me off to lunch and a mini-hop from 3-6. I was thinking we'd go to a couple of stores. We started out at the lovely but elusive Why Knot Knit in Buckhead. I say "elusive" because, although I have been there before--twice, even--we drove right past it the first time. In my defense, I thought we were coming at it from "the other way", so I was looking at the opposite side of the street. OK, maybe that's not a very good defense.

I found the most glorious color of peacock blue Misti Alpaca for a freebie scarf pattern I had. When I bought my "passport", the owner, who is a very cheerful person, told us that she had had people coming in that day who had been to six shops already before getting to her!! Yikes!! After grabbing their free pattern for a luscious wrap, we headed to Strings & Strands. This is a nice shop with lots of specialty yarn, and, once again, a very cheerful and helpful owner. There, I found another color of Misti Alpaca to make the same scarf for one of my nieces...a fun pink/orange/rose/brown color, which sounds awful but isn't.

I was excited to have visited two shops, and it was 4:30 (we made a short stop at Pearl to look for movie poster frames), so I thought we were done. Most shops close at 5, but DH said that we could make it to Needle Nook (a shop with a disturbing--as far as the budget goes--amount of lace, cashmere and sock yarn), and I'd have 9 minutes to shop. I actually had 14!! Plenty of time for me to grab the skein of Bali I needed to complete Aline. Hmmm, but that's only $7 and I need to spend $10...I immediately picked up a skein of Jitterbug I'd been eyeing for some time.

Then, I saw it.

A while ago, someone had mentioned she was knitting a Noni bag. I didn't know what that meant, so I immediately searched, and fell instantly in love. However, I hadn't yet seen the pattern I decided was my favorite in any shop I had visited. On my way to the register, lo and behold, there it was! I grabbed the pattern and by sheer force of will let go of the skein of Jitterbug, even though it physically hurt just a little. (Gotta keep the per-store cost down when you may be visiting 10!) Someone at the cash register was asking if all the shops closed at 5. When we got outside, DH asked, "Didn't you tell me Knitch was open 'til 6?" Ummm...not sure...let me check the master list. Oh, yeah! Off we headed to Knitch, which is a Truly Lovely Shop Indeed and has a room upstairs which not only contains about every color of Cascade 220 there is, but also a felting station (i.e., non-front-loading washers) and an area for classes.

I was feeling pretty smug at this point, by the way. After all, I had managed to visit three shops, and only spend about $15 per shop. AND, I had only purchased things that were 1) on my list, 2) for gifts, or 3) to finish existing projects. Pretty swanky. Then I got to Knitch, and purchased this:

Really, it's DH's fault. While I was plowing through Cascade trying to find my colors, I was divulging my brilliant plan to him. "I want to see all the colors together to make sure I like them, but I won't buy all of them here. I'll spread it out at the other shops I'm going to visit so as to keep my total down." I expected the praise every wife does when she is doing something vaguely frugal (I say, "vaguely", because I am, after all, still buying yarn). However, as I often do, I momentarily forgot who my husband was. "Nah," he said, "just get it all here." I'm not going to argue with that!!

Only one small bump in the road...once I pulled the main green and blue, I didn't like them. I'd fallen in love with the way the photo looked, but we all know how inaccurate colors can be in photos. I wasn't digging the real colors, so I started playing around with alternates. At some point someone asked me if I needed help, and when I admitted I was trying to change colors, the response came: "Well, the designer just happens to be here today. I'm sure she'd help!" I dimly recalled getting an email that Nora Bellows was going to teach a class at Knitch about designing your own bag. Since I had never knit one of her bags--yea verily, nor any felted bag at all--I figured that was over my head and immediately forgot about it. Oh, so that was this weekend. My face flaming, I apologized for saying I didn't like the colors!! I've known some designers, at least in the needlework world, to throw hissie fits if someone dared suggest changing one thread color. But Nora was extremely gracious about it. So now, imagine that bag in the first these colors:

We played with turquoise/green variations (and she even liked a combination I proposed that DH had deemed "seaweed"), and then she went outside the box (God bless designers!) and grabbed the most gorgeous shade of royal blue. Really, it's almost cobalt. That and turquoise, I thought, might not look great with the original deep pink flowers (and we couldn't find one of the colors, anyway). At that point, Nora said she has been playing with green flowers lately. She even gave me a bit of Cascade Fizz from her stash to use for the bobbles (flower centers)!! She also showed me some unfelted flowers and explained that it would seem I was doing something wrong, but I should Trust the Pattern. Believe me, I don't have enough confidence in my knitting skills to NOT Trust the Pattern, despite my experience with the cuff. She kind of threw me for a loop by picking three greens when the pattern calls for two colors, but she told me to "play"...and if there's one thing I can do, besides Trust the Pattern, it's Follow Directions, Especially if They're from the Designer Herself.

So as if all this personal attention wasn't enough, when I got downstairs with my fabulous armload of Cascadey goodness, the staff asked me, "Do you want us to wind this for you?" !!!! Are you serious?? Really?? YES, PLEASE!!!

Shop hop=lots of lovely yarn. Nora Bellows=one swell chick.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I love Halloween because...

When it's over, you can get this...

...for under 8 bucks.

And it should last on my desk at my office at least a month.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Death by Whiffle Ball

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Once upon a time, corporate teambuilding meant one thing: Laser Tag. This was all well and good, but it got to be a little stale after a while. Then came Paintball. In a word: ouch. I am happy to report that I avoided both of these sports (sic); the only work reward I can recall that involved any game playing was when I got an XBox as a bonus. And, of course, there were no unfortunate physical side-effects of that, except for lack of sleep induced by a deep, lingering addiction to all things Halo.

Fortunately for all we chicks who don't wish to be pegged with paint traveling at a pain-inducing velocity, there's a new teambuilding exercise in town...Whirlyball. This may sound like it involves toilets, or pinwheels of some kind, but it actually involves bumper cars, dunking-booth-esque goals, a whiffle ball, and a jai alai-like scoop:

Here's our referee explaining the rules of the game. (Check out the aw3some graphic of the wife-beater-wearing Whirlyball player on the wall.)

I think the rules can be summed up thusly:
  • No slashing (whacking other people or their scoops with your own)

  • No touching the whiffle ball with your hands (unless it's been so badly mangled that you need to turn it back into a sphere).

  • If you manage to hit the target with the ball, but it doesn't trigger the buzzer, tough noogies.

  • You should not ram people from behind.

  • Keeping one hand on the steering mechanism, which is a giant metal rod bent into a 90 degree angle located at about navel level, may help you avoid unfortunate bruising when someone rams you from behind.

  • Flirting with/bribing the referee will cause judgment calls to go your way.

  • You are more likely to win on penalties the other team commits than on goals your team makes.

I am hampered by the fact that I forgot my camera, or I'd be able to show you exciting things like said giant metal rod, or the inspiring stained glass sculpture of a Whirlyball game in the "foyer". Alas, I only have blurred action to show you:

I was thinking, "Geez, we're just going to be riding around in bumper cars (or "Whirlybugs", as they are called) for a couple hours. No big deal." Here's a catalog of my injuries from the afternoon:
  • Bruise on left thigh close to hip (cause: seatbelt)

  • Bruise about three inches below right clavicle (cause: also seatbelt)

  • Bruise on back of right arm (cause: ?? whiffle ball at high velocity? seat while being rammed from behind?)

  • Bruise on inside of right knee (cause: giant metal rod)

  • Sore left hand (cause: steering with giant metal rod)

  • Sore thighs (cause: reaching up to try and block all those over-six-foot behemoths on the other team)

  • Sore back (cause: being me. Seriously, it's usually a little sore, and being rammed from behind doesn't help.)

  • Sore...umm...let's just call it "saddle sore" (cause: being rammed from behind at such high speed it caused me to lift out of my seat several inches, despite seat belt, and re-initiate contact with the seat quite suddenly)

Whirlyball is the new Paintball. The pain is just different.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


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Obligation October was supposed to be about getting Christmas presents done early. I "only" had to bead a necklace for my youngest sister. (She doesn't want anything really fancy, so you wouldn't think it'd take long. Of course, since it's me, it will take longer because it requires me to "create" a pattern. It'd be much faster if I was just following one.) I thought I'd also make some bracelets for my nieces. I've given them bracelets the past few years. A bracelet is a good, non-committal fashion accessory. They aren't integral to an outfit, so you can give a cool one to someone with a greater-than-normal chance it might actually be worn. This year, I thought, I'll knit bracelets. One had come up in my Knitting Page a Day Calendar that looked like a good candiate. I went to an LYS to get the sparkly yarn for it, but they didn't have the yarn the pattern called for (R2 by Rowan). So, I bought pretty much the only sparkly yarn they did have (it was my first visit there, so I felt like I needed to get something). It wasn't silver and copper, like the pattern called for, but gold and pewter should still look cool, right?? Forget about the fact that one was a chainette and the other a tubular; I mean, really, what could go wrong?

Honestly, the random yarn was the least of my problems. I'm going to list the "corrections" I made to the pattern here, just because, even with my limited knitting experience, I'm pretty sure there's no way you're going to end up with what's in the picture if you follow the instructions. I mean, logically, the bracelet is supposed to have picots on both sides. If the instructions tell you to make picots at the beginning of every fourth row, is it going to have picots on both sides? Why, no. No, it's not. It's only going to picots on one side. That was once I had to frog. And forget about the instructions given for the picots. I did what made sense to me. Frog deux! Also, if you count the beads you're supposed to put on each yarn (12 each = 24 beads), and then count the number of times you use a bead in the pattern (4 x 3.5 repeats = 14 beads), they are disturbingly dissimilar.

I can't find my notes on this pattern right now, so I'll update this post later. But here's what I remember. Every row immediately following a row that starts with MP, MP in the same color as the previous P on that same side. After the first time through, MP at the beginning of row 1 as well. There's also a missing row in the instructions, but it should be fairly obvious what it should be to continue the pattern.

Also, I did another two repeats (sans beads), because the bracelet wasn't long enough.

And after all that, I'm not too enthused about it. I'm thinking of trying some other things for the other two nieces--maybe a bookmark and a set of wrist warmers. Of course, one of the nieces is getting married next April...hey, I could knit her a garter!! Anyone know any good patterns???

So much for getting Christmas gifts out of the way quickly.

There's a Wookie in my shower

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DH mentioned he saw something about Star Wars on the Today show, which I'm almost sure has to do with this. No matter. It was enough. A sound arose from the shower...a gurgling, slightly melodic sound. The gargling had begun.

Something about Star Wars makes my husband want to gargle themes in the shower. I suppose I should be glad he's not making up words to them and singing in the shower instead (not that he has a bad voice). To be fair, his rendition of the Force Theme is wonderful. And his Imperial March is inspiring (in a manner of speaking). But today, after the Force Theme, came something unrecognizable.

"What was that?"

"Han and Leia's Theme. Why, what did you think it was?"

"It sounded a little like the deranged warbling of a peacock in heat."

"Well, at least I got the passion component in there!"


Some girls' husbands sing like birds. Mine gargles like one.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Cubie is Dead...Long Live the Cubie!

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ASG was a glorious weekend, marred only by a rude reminder we were practically in the Midwest, and continual attemps to finish The Dreaded Cubie. Do you remember the Dunkin Donuts commercials from the 80s, where the hapless DD manager wakes at the crack of dawn, muttering, "...time to make the donuts..."? We see him shuffling through his morning routine, punctuated by muffled, "...the DOH-nuts...." That's the way ASG started to feel after a little while. It was my own fault; after every meal I'd look pointedly at Teresa and utter, "Cubie." Then we'd tromp up to her room, the designated ironing/assembly station, and realize there were only about five minutes before we had to be somewhere, so it really wasn't worth it, anyway. We had two big pushes; one night there was a lot of ironing and lacing going on, and Saturday night when there was a lot of cursing going on. Honestly, there really wasn't much cursing. We were doing the actual assembly then, and that stitch was so hellacious, and we were so tired, that we were incapable of forming actual words. The closest I got was saying something like, "Schwaaaaabbaneeboe...CURSE WORD!!!!"

Anyway, I finally finished it at about 11:30 on Sunday of ASG, after the farewell brunch was good and over. But I did a brief victory dance in Teresa and Jean's (or was that CJ's?) room and then packed the sucker in my carry-on bag (sans scissors, of course).

If you want to see close-ups of some of the sides, click on "The Dreaded Cubie" link above.

BTW, I'm totally counting this as part of November Fall Finishing Frenzy. Even though I finished it in October. Now go see T's lovely cubie. And T, I agree we should never do this again. Although, I may never finish anything again if we don't.

Whew, I'm glad that's done.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A First

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It's my first ever blog award!! The talented and beautiful Thermalgal has given me the "You Make Me Smile" Award. Thank you so much, Jenni!! I got a giddy little lift when I saw!

Here are some words from the creator of the award (at least from what I can tell):
I wanted to create something special for the top ten people who have inspired me through their blogging; the stories they tell and the lives that they lead with grace and dignity. I visit their blogs for inspiration and encouragement.

Convention seems to have been to give out the award to 10 blog authors when you get it, since that's what the creator did. All these blogs make me smile for different reasons...some for beauty, some for humor, some for sheer joy. So now, in alphabetical are my recipients:

I think all of these are new recipients except for Erin and Jenni. But really, I couldn't leave them off!!

Even virtual awards feel great. And what are you still doing here when you could be reading some (other) super blogs??

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tea and Squirrels

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Friday morning at ASG Jill and I decided to forego getting up at 0D:30 (oh-dark-thirty) to have a giant breakfast at the hotel restaurant (which, aparently, was completely unprepared for the cavalcade of stitchers seeking protein early in the morning) and walk to the French bakery we had discovered the day before. Sadly, they did not have any protein left, just fabulous looking things like "Sin Cookies" and an array of pastries. We got directions to another place from the security guard in the building and headed out, but found the "Metro Grill" on the way. Somehow we managed to have eggs with cheese, a biscuit, oatmeal with raisins, pecans and apples and a bottle of water for $2.65 each! Protein was necessary because the first event of ASG was the welcoming tea, and teensy sandwiches would not sustain our brains through our first class to dinner. After all, it was not a High Tea, but a Cream Tea (or Afternoon Tea).

Well-behaved bears and dollies were welcome to attend.
Unfortunately, some of their owners weren't quite as well behaved.... This is Teresa trying to convince CJ that she wants to trade her bunny for Teresa's bear...T has a thing for bunnies. After tea we headed off to class with Eileen Bennett. I'll refer you to Teresa's blog for great pictures of the class piece. I'm not sure how she got so much done over the weekend. I only got two motifs done in class. My theory is that she didn't sleep. Yeah, that's it. I also procured her Trinity Sampler (the pic looks black/white, but it's really soft blue-greens), which I've been lusting after since it was a class at CATS and conflicted with two other classes I was taking.

Dinner that night was held in the Rathskeller.
The walls of the entire room are covered with Rookwood pottery. There are pelicans on the walls...

Dinner was great. However, I made a terrible discovery during that time...
I can't Kinnear. Not even slightly. You can kind of see my intended subject, Teresa, in the background, but mostly you see water glasses.

I did manage to capture Teresa the next day...but then I realized that was kind of cheating. I mean, I had the camera sitting on the table, and I was looking straight at my relatively massive 3" screen or whatever. Surely there's more to this Kinnearing thing than that. I decided I needed to be shooting from the hip to really do it right.

Oh, yeah. That's much better. I think that was supposed to be Jean. Let's try again.

Fabulous. See how I have managed to perfectly capture her dewy complexion and her beautiful, translucent skin? Yeah, neither do I. That stinkin' water glass jumped in the way again. It really was the bane of my existence.

That, and the napkins.
There's Ann (or not).

And Angela.

*sigh* After dinner Eileen gave a great lecture/slideshow about Catherine of Aragon and other royals around that time period. I had to shudder when she got to Henry VIII. My old boss looks just like him, and had, I think, about the same opinion of women. The lecture was interesting; unfortunately, I retained very little of it. Don't ask me anything about Tudor England, for sure. Most amusing was when she claimed Henry had brought the Reformation to England. I'm not sure kicking the Catholic church out of the country because you want a divorce and setting yourself up as head of the church counts as "reforming"...but, you know, to-may-to, to-mah-to, right? (Where's that sarcasm tag when I need it?)

The next morning Jill and I scarfed down breakfast bars and headed to Starbuck's to meet Teresa for The Elixir of Life (or, "tea", as you might be used to calling it). We then rushed off to class with Rae Iverson. Usually we have Rae last thing in the afternoon on Saturday, when we are all brain-dead (or at least, I am). Although it was jarring to have a schedule change, it was nice to actually be able to comprehend what she was saying to me!! The class started out great...I'd heard there were squirrels to be found on her piece, but I was unprepared for the cuteness that was about to leap in front of me. I had turned around for some reason (more than likely to either run my mouth or suck down more of The Elixir of Life), and when I turned back around, Jill had placed one piece of the model directly in front of me:

Squeeeeee! Rae looked up and asked, "Who just squealed??" That would be me, the squirrel fanatic. Sooo cute!! I was in squirrel heaven the rest of the class. And just look how clever the finishing on the scissors sheath is (to the right). The third piece in the set is a thread bag. I was going to scan in some pictures and my progress (not much), but my scanner does not play with Vista (loserly technology!!) I'll definitely be stitching on this piece next year. I'd like to say I'll work on it this year, but I have gifts and a piece I've already dated 2007 to get finished (yes, I know I could rip and restitch the date, but I'm using it as motivation).

Later on, we made a surprise attack on our friend Carol, singing "Happy Birthday" to her while she was in Eileen's class (so as not to further terrorize Eileen, we did get permission from her first). Here we are waiting to harmonize in the hall.

Our afternoon class was taught by Barbara Rakosnik of Periwinkle Promises. I've been in love with her Sampler Accents forever, but I ended up coming home only with her Royal Thistle Celebration. The class piece is a tin topper for a cool jewelry tin with "perforated metal" sides, so you can actually work a couple giant queen stitches on them.

Dinner that night involved a costume contest, but I was fresh out of clever, incredibly portable costume ideas after last year's Picnic and Ant winner. (I draped a paper tablecloth replete with plastic cups and plates over myself, and wore a basket tied with a ribbon on my head. DH wore black and sported black pipe-cleaner antennae, and chased me around the room. We threw the whole thing in the trash afterward.) Fortunately, my dear friends The Stitch Queens had provided matching T-shirts which you can check out over on Teresa's blog, including more squirrelicious shots and the Most Accurate Rendering of a Brainless Scarecrow Ever. But mostly, there was chocolate.

And, for some inexplicable reason, giant chunks of butter (camera included for scale).

Sunday morning I attempted to use all the water in the hotel with world's longest shower. Still, Jill made it down to the breakfast buffet before me. After viewing a slide show of the weekend (captions somewhat lacking in comedic precision without our help in crafting them), we checked out of our room and hung out in Teresa and Jean's room until it was time to take the shuttle to the airport. Oh, yes, and we did grab lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (Louisville, rock 'n' roll mecca of the Midwest), and, surprisingly, the food didn't completely stink. DH made the drive to pick me up at the airport, and I spent the next few days in an exhausted, post-needlework-euphoria haze.

I can't wait to do it all again next year.

ASG was, as usual, fabulous and way too short. And I can't Kinnear to save my life.

Old Geek-outs