Sunday, April 29, 2012

Impromptu Family Fun Day

I was looking at my pictures on the wall the other day and realized the most recent pictures of the girls are over a year old.  That's just sad.  I decided with Mother's Day coming up that I needed to get on the ball and get the family some new pictures, because I'm pretty sure most of them didn't get copies of the last batch. 

I didn't order any school photos this year because I didn't like any of them.  You would think out of two sets for each of the three girls, there would have been at least one.... but nope.  

I asked the girls where we should go take pictures and they informed me they wanted to go to "the city."  Meaning downtown by the river.  I knew I'd need Bill to help with the kiddie wrangling, so we waited until today.  The girls were super hyper this morning, so I was pretty sure it would be a disaster, but I got some I really liked.


The first thing I saw after we got there was this wall under an overpass with all these hand-painted tiles.  I though it would be a fun backdrop.


Livi had a little bit of makeup on today... she gets terrible circles under her eyes when she's tired and/or has allergies going on and they were awful today. Then, of course, I had to pretend to put some on the other two jealous ones...


Those three were the first three pictures of the day and they were all so much better than the school photos.  Most definitely going on the wall.  =)

By some miracle, I also got a really good shot of all three of them, which hardly ever happens.


Olivia looks so grown.  Now that her hair is getting long, I try to braid it before bed to prevent a huge tangled mess for my husband to work out in the morning.  And now that she's discovered that braids leave her hair all crimped, she asks for more and more braids to make it "curly." 

There is a small little wildlife museum of sorts downtown that my husband has been dying to go to and it just never worked out until today.  The girls absolutely loved it.


She pretty much stayed by the fish the whole time.


I really need to get to work on making some new and longer skirts.


We did a lot of exploring.  They didn't like being under the overpass very much.  Too many strange noises.

When we first arrived, we passed by the hills that the girls went rolling down last year and saw a family sliding down the hills on cardboard boxes.  Bill had promised the girls that they could play on the hills before we left, so after exploring, we headed back that way.  We got back to the hills and noticed the family had left their broken boxes on the hill, and we were really irritated that they just left their trash there like that.  Then we realized that the scraps were plenty big enough for the girls to use, so then we were pretty excited that they could slide instead of roll.


They had a blast!  After getting way too hot running up and down the hill in the sun, we got popsicles and drinks and headed home.

Love it when a day just comes together better than expected.  =)

3KCBWDAY7 - Crafting Balance

Crafting Balance 
Are you a knitter or a crocheter, or are you a bit of both? If you are monogamous in your yarn-based crafting, is it because you do not enjoy the other craft or have you simply never given yourself the push to learn it? Is it because the items that you best enjoy crafting are more suited to the needles or the hook? Do you plan on ever trying to take up and fully learn the other craft? If you are equally comfortable knitting as you are crocheting, how do you balance both crafts? Do you always have projects of each on the go, or do you go through periods of favouring one over the other? How did you come to learn and love your craft(s)?

 I am definitely a hooker.  Now, I'm not one of those people who think one is better than the other.  I do know how to knit.  I taught myself how to shortly after I finally got the hang of crochet.  My sister, not realizing that I didn't knit (some people don't know there's a difference between crochet and knit), bought me this book:

There was the cutest mermaid costume in the book and I took on the task of knitting all three of my girls mermaid costumes for Halloween that year.  Insanity, I tell you.

Not the best picture to showcase my work, but you get the idea.

Honestly, other than a scarf, that's all the knitting I've done.  I have tried a few other projects, but just never finish them.  Knitting doesn't feel as natural to me and I'm slow.  Yes, I realize the speed comes with practice, but I'm not a very patient person.

And, this is just my own personal thing... I can't keep up with needles.  My kids don't mess with my crochet hooks, but those knitting needles are irresistible.  When I started those mermaid costumes, I swear I started the first one 4 times because Zoe kept pulling the needles out.  I can leave my crochet projects out and if the hook disappears, I might loose a stitch or two.  But knitting... that has to be put up if I so much as leave the room.  I got better at putting the needles back in without losing much of my work, but it's still a pain.  Plus, they make good swords for my tomboys and we just don't need any eyeballs impaled on needles.

I do want to try more knitting projects.  I love trying new techniques and just expanding my knowledge so it does tempt me.  The girls are getting older and less likely to disturb my work.  The day is coming, but until then I'll be pretty monogamous to my hooks.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Laundry Day

Saturday is traditionally Laundry Day around here.  Despite my best efforts to remember to try to keep it up during the week, I almost never do.  So I get up, drink my coffee and begin my routine.  I sort everything into piles in the hall and just keep a steady stream of washing, drying, folding, and putting away.  We're talking a minimum of 8 loads.  Usually more like 10.

I noticed something today about our clothes.  I separate the girls clothes from our clothes because I need to get them washed and put away before they go to bed, so there was a big pile of adult clothes at the very end of the hall.  It was almost entirely navy, gray, and denim.  I really need to branch out and get more color in at least my wardrobe.  Honestly.  It was almost depressing.

Anyway, I tried a couple new things today that I thought were worth sharing, so here you go...

I've made my own laundry soap off and on for a couple of  years.  Since I am bad about not thinking ahead, I sometimes run out of the homemade stuff and it takes a day or so to set up, so I end up buying some.  I hadn't made any in a while because I was just tired of messing with the bucket.  I had run across a pin for a concentrated recipe and decided to give it a whirl.

(I wish my laundry cabinet was so lovely and neat)

I halved the recipe, because I only had one bar of soap and figured it would just be a trial run anyway.  You only use a little more than 3 cups of water for a half batch, compared to a huge bucket full. 

In case you don't go check it out, here's the synopsis (for the half batch):  1 bar of Fels Naptha melted into 3 cups of water, add 1 cup each of washing soda and Borax.  Pour into two quart containers.  Let them sit overnight, dump it in the blender, whip it up and put back into the containers.  Use about 1 Tbsp per load.

I almost didn't blend mine, because I had shaken it a few times before it really set up, so it wasn't separated or anything.  I'm glad I did, simply because it is just so fluffy and that makes me happy.  I know, that's silly.  But it's not like there's much to enjoy about laundry and if fluffy soap makes me happy, it's worth the effort.

I used it all day.  The first load, I forgot fabric softener, so there wasn't that added scent when I pulled the clothes out.  They smelled really fresh though.  Then I had my load of socks and undies.  I hate washing the girls socks... I don't know what they get into, but they just are filthy.  I wash them with bleach usually, but didn't today.  I swear that they were brighter and cleaner looking with just this laundry soap than they were last week with commercial soap and bleach.  No lie.  I was impressed.

And these two quarts will last me months.  They don't take up any more space than a small bottle of Purex and will last much, much longer.  I already had the washing soda and Borax on hand, and the soap was $1.  You can't beat that with a stick.

My second tip is this:

I cleaned my washer.

My husband is a mechanic.  So, his uniforms are usually disgusting.  He refuses to use the cleaning service at work (he says they don't get them clean and they take too long) so it all goes in my washer.  It makes the washer really nasty.  Like I'm not going to show you a before picture, it was so gross.

Sidenote:  If you happen to wonder how the new soap did on his disgusting uniforms, I have to admit that I use extra stuff for his uniforms... Purple Power, to be exact.  (Per my husband's request and, yes, I was concerned about if it would hurt the washer or the uniforms, but it doesn't seem to)  They seem to be as clean as usual.  I might try it without the Purple Power, just to see... since it did so well on the socks.  Another sidenote:  there is a Pin going around about a no-grate laundry soap that uses dish soap.... he specifically requested I not use it again on his uniforms... it doesn't clean as well.  Just so you know.

Back to cleaning the washer.... I finished my laundry up earlier than usual, despite having visitors today (yay for human interaction outside of work or family!), so I decided I had to do it.  I followed the directions and I'm kind of shocked at how much better it looks.  Now that I know how to do it properly, I'll keep on top of it better. It recommends that you should clean it twice a year, but with the uniform washing going on here, it will most likely need to be done more often.

So there you go, things to made my Laundry Day a little better =)  Now if I could just figure out where to find some mid-size hangers for my kids' clothes.  The baby ones are too small and the adult ones are too big....

3KCBWDAY6 - Improving Your Skillset

Improving Your Skillset
How far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be? Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base? Take a look at a few knitting or crochet books and have a look at some of the skills mentioned in the patterns. Can you start your amigurumi pieces with a magic circle, have you ever tried double knitting, how's your intarsia? If you are feeling brave, make a list of some of the skills which you have not yet tried but would like to have a go at, and perhaps even set yourself a deadline of when you'd like to have tried them by.

Despite the fact that I've only been crocheting about 2 years, I honestly feel like I'm a fairly advanced crocheter.  I've definitely worked patterns classified as such.  I love learning new things and challenging myself, so once I got hooked I jumped in with both feet.  If I see a pattern with stitches I've never tried or that looks really complicated, I get excited. 

I picked up the language of crochet pretty quickly.  When I first picked up a pattern, I was just baffled by the abbreviations and terminology.  Charts are still a bit tricky for me, I prefer my directions written out.  With amigurumi, unless there is something unique about a row, all I need is the stitch count for that row.  I've condensed a pattern written out over several pages to just half a page before ;).

I am able to improvise my own patterns and figure out some patterns just looking at the finished product.  I've written and shared a few of my own patterns, and I hope to do more - possibly to sell. 

There are several techniques I haven't tried yet, such as Tunisian crochet, that I would like to try eventually.  Right now I want to get more into overlay crochet.  I'm finishing up a few projects and I think my next project will be something from this book:

Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

As for knitting, I'd say I'm an adventurous beginner.  I'd like to try another knitting project before the year is over.  Time is key, though.... there is just so much I want to try but not nearly enough time to do it all.


Friday, April 27, 2012

3KCBWWC - My Perfect Day

Craft Your Perfect Day
Plan your fantasy day with your craft, It might just take up one hour of your day or be the entire focus of the day, but tell your readers where you'd love to craft, whether you'd craft alone or with friends, knitting or crocheting something simple or spending a day learning new skills.

 It's a warm Saturday morning and when I wake up, the sun is actually up for a pleasant change.  The smell of coffee and omelets waft down the hall, as my husband decided to let me sleep in and has managed to keep our spawn quiet and has cooked me breakfast.  I get up and enjoy a peaceful breakfast where I don't have to get up 500 times to refill cups or wipe the Toilet Nazi's bottom.

My husband decides to take the girls off to the park for a few hours so that I can sew.  He's also arranged for a maid to come by to scrub the house from top to bottom and wash clothes.  My serger doesn't go all wonky on me and everything I sew turns out pure perfection.

When the family returns, we all go for a walk at the park and I take all sorts of fabulous pictures, showing what a perfect day it is and how we are all just so happy and carefree.

We go out to eat and the girls actually eat something other than cheese dip and no milk is spilled at the table.  Bottoms firmly planted to chairs and no embarrassing swear words slip out of the mouths of my small children.  Everybody who passes comments on what charming children we have.

The girls go to bed peacefully and quietly while I sit in my chair and read a few chapters of a well-written and engrossing novel.

I gather up my current crochet project and my husband strangely has found the time to get acquainted with Once Upon A Time and we watch the most recent DVR'd episode together while I work.  I remark how nice it is to watch something other than American Choppers or Fox News and he agrees that they are stupid and will never subject me to them again.

It's finally time for bed... my house is clean, the bed is made, kids in their own beds... and I drift off to sleep with a smile on my face....


Thursday, April 26, 2012

3KCWBDAY4 - Crocheting for all seasons?

A Knitter or Crocheter For All Seasons?
As spring is in the air in the northern hemisphere and those in the southern hemisphere start setting their sights for the arrival of winter, a lot of crocheters and knitters find that their crafting changes along with their wardrobe. Have a look through your finished projects and explain the seasonality of your craft to your readers. Do you make warm woollens the whole year through in preparation for the colder months, or do you live somewhere that never feels the chill and so invest your time in beautiful homewares and delicate lace items. How does your local seasonal weather affect your craft?

I've mentioned before that I think I am a seasonal crafter.  Of course, I've only been crocheting for two years, so I don't have a long history to look back on, but it seems that I tend to crochet more during the cooler months and sew more during the warmer months.  But while I will ignore my sewing machine for months on end, it's rare that I don't have a crochet project going no matter the time of the year.  I just do it more when it's cooler.

Thing is... this is Arkansas and it's never all that cold.  I make crocheted hats that my kids only wear for dress up.  I don't make scarves often... no one will wear them either.  I am too warm-natured to wear a sweater, so I don't make them.

Summer can get really humid around here, and it can be hard to crochet in the summer.  It feels like the yarn just sticks to me and it throws my tension off.  I definitely couldn't handle being covered by a big afghan or anything, so most of the blankets I've made have been granny square projects. 

I guess all of that is why I make amigurumi so often.  Any time is a good time for a softie =)


Happy Birthday Velveeta!

Six years ago today, my beautiful Isabelle was born. 

She's always been a surprise... from finding out I was pregnant (Olivia was only 9 months old when we found out), to those big doe eyes (I never imagined I would have a brown-eyed child)

Her first Halloween costume was very appropriate... she's such a little nurse.  Olivia fell on the playground at school a few weeks ago, and Isabelle came running to take care of her.  She's always taking care of whoever is sick or hurt.  She has a huge heart.

She is so funny.  She makes me laugh every single day.

She can be mean and has a quick temper, but usually she's just a love bug.

Six years.  I can't believe she's 6 already.

So I took a walk down memory lane to look at my favorite pictures of my Izzy.  She has made my life an awesome adventure.  She loves rainbows and my life wouldn't be nearly as colorful without her.

Happy Birthday Izzaboo.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

3KCWBDAY3 - My Crochet Hero!

Your Knitting Or Crochet Hero
Blog about someone in the fibre crafts who truly inspires you. There are not too many guidelines for this, it's really about introducing your readers to someone who they might not know who is an inspiration to you. It might be a family member or friend, a specific designer or writer, indie dyer or another blogger. If you are writing about a knitting designer and you have knitted some of their designs, don't forget to show them off. Remember to get permission from the owner if you wish to use another person's pictures

I haven't been crocheting all that long, relatively speaking.  I've read so many crocheter's bios where they'd been crocheting since they were 3, and that's not the case with me.  My mother tried to teach me when I was  young, but she's a lefty and I have what I like to call "directional dyslexia" (I can't tell my left from right half the time, seriously), so I just was never able to pick it up.  My mom, when she was crafty, was a dabbler at best in crochet.  She made a ripple afghan and a Pepto-pink sweater vest that my poor sister wore in a school portrait, but other than that I can't think of anything else she ever made.  Myself, I didn't "get it" until I was 34.  Two years ago.  That's it.  I do know how to knit, but I never have been able to feel really natural at it. 

I admire a lot of crocheters, especially those who design. I would say that it's really hard for me to choose a hero among them, but I have to admit that there is one that instantly comes to mind.

Melody MacDuffee.

Melody MacDuffee first caught my eye when I picked up this book from the book store:

Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

That's her Stained Glass Window afghan on the cover.  I bought the book and had to make it.


It is, to this day, probably the project I'm most proud of completing.

Melody's "thing" is overlay crochet.  I'm so intrigued by this technique.  I've started another one of her patterns from this book:

Again, she made the cover, and she well deserves to, in my opinion.  I haven't made it far on the project, mainly because it is made with embroidery floss and working that small requires a lot of concentration (meaning it's not really something I can sit and do with the kids around or in front of the TV) and I let myself get distracted from it.

I don't buy many pattern books, I'd rather borrow them from the library if I can, but I made an exception for this book:

Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

Everything in this book is worked with sewing thread.  Sewing thread.  Can you imagine?  I have a few of the patterns in mind that I want to try on a larger scale with worsted weight yarn.

I'm just amazed at the skill and imagination she possesses.

I just can't imagine coming up with this on my own.  And it's just so perfect... it's really hard for me to work with embroidery thread, so I can't even begin to comprehend doing it with sewing thread like that.

So... there you have it.... my crochet hero.  Melody MacDuffee.  You really should try one of her patterns some day.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

3KCBWDAY2 - Photography Challenge

Photography Challenge Day!
Today challenges you to be creative with your photography, and get yourself in with the chance to win the photography prize. Taking interesting photographs in this instance isn't about flashy cameras or a great deal of technical know-how, it's about setting up a story or scene in a photograph and capturing something imaginative. Your photograph(s) should feature something related to your craft, so that might be either a knitted or crocheted item, yarn, or one of your craft tools. One example of setting a scene would be to photograph a girl in a knitted red cape walking through the woodlands with a basket of goodies, as in the Red Riding Hood tale, or you might photograph a knitted gnome hiding among the flowers in your garden. Photo editing is permitted for competition photos. Here are a few examples of my own photographs to illustrate an imaginative use of photography, but you can do much better than these...

I don't anticipate winning any prizes for this post (or any other, for that matter ;) ).  I do love photography and I always have the intention of taking really nice photos of my work, but it doesn't seem to happen often.  I don't know how well this post fits the criteria today, but I'd just like to show off a few of my favorite photos that feature things I created.  Enjoy!

Babette fans



Livi's doll

daisy afghan

OMG!  He killed Kenny!  You bastard!

Mr. Hankey

Cozumel fountain

Totally relaxed


Monday, April 23, 2012

Longest week ever...

It's just Monday, right?  This is a super full week for me and I got to start it off with a bang.  Or a shot, a few of them, as the case may be.

I finally took Zoe for her 4 year check up today.  I didn't even think about her getting shots.  But, of course, she was due for some.  I was pretty disappointed when we got there and realized we weren't seeing her usual pediatrician.  I love Dr. C, but Dr. F looks like a corpse.  He actually looked a little more lively today, but usually he's really pale and waxy looking and his lips are purple.  He's really soft-spoken and space-y.  He just freaks me out. 


Zoe earned 5 princess stickers for being such a big girl during her shots.  Her eyes welled up with tears after the second one, but she never actually cried. 

We also learned that she's overweight.  With that and Olivia being underweight, I'm just putting my foot down.  Things have to change around here.  More activity and less junk.  Period.  I'm sure it'll be ugly around here for a while, but I don't want my kids to go down the road I have been on my whole life.  No no no.


As soon as we got home, we left again to go see Nana and  Dan at the campground.  Olivia has been begging me for days to pull her loose tooth.  If you missed the memo, I hate pulling teeth.  I've put her off for a while, but it has to happen eventually, right?  We had to make a trip to the bathroom, and I sucked it up and just did it.  It was by far the easiest tooth to date.  She didn't cry, I didn't think I was going to throw up.... and she didn't bleed like crazy either. 


She did walk back to the cabin with toilet paper hanging out of her mouth, though.  I swear....

They are finally all tucked into bed and after I do the Tooth Fairy thing and make lunches, I'm hitting the bed.  Isabelle has surgery tomorrow (tubes... nothing major), and I may be able to sneak in a little relaxation before Nana and Dan come by.  Tomorrow is our last evening with them.  It's been a good visit and we'll all miss them, but I certainly will be ready to have our routine back to normal.

K&CBW Day 1 - Color Lovers!

Today's topic du jour is color. 

Can you guess what my favorite color is?

A really grassy, spring-y green.  

I am drawn to most shades of green... not so much darker shades like hunter green (which is odd since I was completely into that when I was younger) but most shades of green just make me really happy.  I've noticed at times while looking at patterns that I take notice of those with pictures of them in a green shade more than any other color.  A pattern I might usually pass up will suddenly be far more interesting to me if they show a finished item in green.

My taste in colors do change.  Once upon a time I was very into dark jewel tones.  Deep, dark blue and blood red are just amazing colors.  But having a house full of little girls has influenced my taste.  I have never been much of a girly-girl, but I gave birth to three of them.  When they were little, I learned to love the soft baby shades.  Now they love fun, bold colors and I find myself drawn to hot pink and lime green more than ever.  I used to love silver above all else.  If you've ever paid attention to the web address of my blog, you'll notice "silvertears" in there.  I thought that was such a beautiful image... liquid silver drops. 

Source: via stefano on Pinterest

Still do.  =)

There are colors that I'm not fond of.  Orange, for example.  It has grown on me somewhat... I do think most colors have their place and purpose, but I certainly don't gravitate to it.  There are shades of red that I don't like... mostly the orange-y ones.  My least favorite is gold.  I won't even wear yellow gold jewelry.

When I am working on crochet and sewing, I have to have good colors to work with.  I tried to make a Special Olympics scarf this past winter and just couldn't get into the color combination (royal blue and cherry red).  I'm picky about my fabrics, in fact, I don't really like a lot of the popular colorways out now.  I'm even pickier about variegated yarn.  I prefer solid color yarn and have found very few variegated yarns that don't make me a little nutty when I look at them.  I might feel differently if I made more clothing or used some of the more expensive yarns.  But I don't.  =)

I will leave you with a few of the projects I've pinned that I was drawn to because of the colors....

Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest



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