Monday, August 30, 2010

The agony and the ecstasy

I've been knitting on this adorable pleated skirt for our sweet little Buttercup. It's a little bit harder than my comfort zone and I've had to learn some new things, including knitting in the round, in order to make the pleats.

The first time I started it I got six rows done (approaching 2000 stitches) before I realized it was irreversibly twisted in spite of repeatedly making sure that it was not twisted. I had to pull it all out and start over. Oh, the agony...

I started over, however, and got quite a way along, making absolutely positively sure it wasn't twisted before I realized that I had dropped a stitch/made a mistake/blown it all somehow. Oh, the agony...

Instead of ripping it all out and starting over yet again, which I didn't really have the heart to do, I decided I might as well figure out how to fix knitting mistakes. Because this little skirt started out with more than 300 stitches per row and dozens upon dozens of rows, odds were good that I wasn't going to get through the whole thing without any more mistakes. It took me a few tries, and some worry, and a few more tries, but I fixed my mistake. Maybe not perfectly, and maybe not the exact right way that a more experienced knitter would do, but I can't find where the stitch was dropped/mistake was made/the whole thing was somehow blown. Oh, the ecstasy!

I've made a few more mistakes since then, and when I come across them, I fix them. I'm getting better at it. I've realized that whenever I see a hand-knitted item of clothing that the knitter probably didn't get through it without making any mistakes - she probably made some mistakes but she fixed them as she came to them. You don't have to be perfect the very first time, and it's a little bit crazy to start completely over if an error is repairable. Oh, the ecstasy!

I might be a real knitter when all of this is over. I never thought I would be. And for sure, our dear little Buttercup will have a very cute pleated skirt to wear this fall and next spring. I'm as proud as I can be about this skirt - I don't care if the pattern is labeled "easy" or not. Oh, the ecstasy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Learning to do it right

In all the directions for knitting anything, one of the first things it says is "BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE". Just like that - in all caps.

Which always really worried me because I had no idea what "gauge" was or how to check it.

Until now.

Mr. Dub gave to me at Christmas a book of baby sweater knitting patterns that I had especially wanted. Little did I know how helpful and instructive it would turn out to be. In the back there are all sorts of handy tips and tricks including (are you ready?) what in the world "gauge" is and exactly how to check it.

It's not really that hard. And while I think that later on, after I've become really good at knitting, I won't need to check my gauge on every single thing I make, I think it might be fun to make a record of all the knitted things I've worked on including the swatch I've made in order to "CHECK MY GAUGE", who I gave it to, what pattern and type of yarn I used, etc.

This handy-dandy book of patterns also includes a chart explaining all the different weights of yarn, what size needles you will probably use for any particular weight, and a guideline for the gauge you can expect with that yarn and those needles.

Three cheers for Mr. Dub! He didn't know what he was doing when he bought the book, but he followed my instructions when I told him which one to get.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's for dinner?

Tacos, that's what. I love tacos. Tacos are delicious. Beef tacos, chicken tacos, or fish tacos - it doesn't matter. Yes, please!
I could eat tacos for dinner 3 times a week and be okay with it.
The rest of my family, not so much.

Monday, August 23, 2010

little dresses for pretty girls

Our Copperfield Relief Society did a service project not too long ago where we turned pillowcases into dresses. They are for Little Dresses for Africa, and I think it's such a cool idea. After the evening we spent working on them there were still several that hadn't been done so I took some of them home to work on. I finished up the last of the ones I had this weekend.

Soon they'll be on their way to Africa!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

wise words from Honest Abe

"When I do good, I feel good..." - Abraham Lincoln

I heard about a family in my area who are expecting their first baby very soon. They are new to our country and don't speak any English. They are far from family and friends with very few resources and no baby gear for their first son.

I had some fabric that was given to me by a friend, and I made this quilt for the little baby boy that is soon to be born.

It really is true that you love those you serve. It's interesting how you have to at least begin the service first before you start to feel the love. I poured into this little quilt all the good wishes and tender feelings I had while working on it. I have no idea who this little guy is, or who his parents are, but I hope that good fortune and blessings follow them throughout their lives.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Summer's last blast

We went to Sea World in San Antonio yesterday.

I think the boys had a good time, but I might be getting too mature for such doings; my fanny is tired from sitting in the car for 7 hours, and my feet hurt from walking around in flip-flops for 8 hours.

The shows were pretty great. We saw the new one, Azul, that has dolphins, beluga whales, and different varieties of tropical birds as part of it. We saw the Believe show with Shamu. We couldn't tell which one was Shamu, but it was fun to see the new baby orca there with her mother. The narrator of the show said the baby whale was born this past January. I noticed that none of the trainers actually got in the water with the orcas and I wonder if that's a new policy for Sea World since one of them was drowned by a whale earlier this year. We sat in the "splash zone" for every show but didn't get so much as a drop of water until we went to the Pirates 4D movie where we were spritzed on a few times. It was good fun.

But I don't know how people lived in Texas before they invented air conditioning. At one point in the Shamu Arena they turned on some big fountains in the tank and it was so nice. They keep the water in that tank at 52 degrees. It created a lovely cool breeze.
Two more days of summer vacation...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Abundance - the prequel

Last summer (last fall? I don't remember exactly) James helped me sort through some stuff in our kitchen cabinets and clear it all out. Then we gathered our opened cans and bags and boxes of various items and we transferred it all into the gallon-size rubbermaid canisters I mentioned a couple of days ago. All the containers have the metal gripper lids that make them air-tight.

This is the result and I have to say it's a much more efficient use of space. In this small space I have the following:
  • lentils
  • pinto beans
  • instant potato flakes
  • brown rice
  • cornmeal
  • white rice
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • white chocolate chips
  • dry milk
  • black beans
  • egg noodles
  • all-purpose flour
  • granulated sugar
  • brown sugar
  • rolled oats
  • quick-cooking brown rice
  • fruit drink mix
  • red winter wheat
  • white wheat
  • green split peas
That's a lot of food stored on only TWO kitchen shelves! It's all organized in the canisters, and they fit two deep on the shelves. I can see exactly what's there and how much of it I have. I don't have to go on any sort of expedition to the back of the pantry to see if I have chocolate chips and I don't have to buy yet another pound of lentils because the tiny plastic bag they come in is hidden behind a can of soup. Maybe you can imagine what it would look like if all that food was in its original containers stacked neatly, or not, onto two shelves. The best part is that there isn't any more possibility of bags or boxes breaking open spilling food all over my pantry shelves and floor. It's all right there, safe and contained, and out in the open.

I really love this set-up in my kitchen! I did have to clean out this cabinet to accomplish this. I remember that there was all sorts of stuff in there. I don't remember what any of it was and I haven't missed it at all. So if you feel inspired to organize your food storage or to start putting some food aside in case of a rainy day, don't let the lack of cabinet space deter you. Undoubtedly you have a lot of stuff you don't need taking up valuable kitchen real estate.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Abundance II

This is the second step in the Great Food Storage Overhaul. We bought a small cabinet with doors to keep in our kitchen where I'll keep my large containers of things like oil and honey, as well as some 1-gallon Rubbermaid containers where I keep the contents of the #10 cans after they've been opened. I like these containers a lot:
  1. They're clear so I can see what's in them,
  2. and they're small enough to fit in my new cabinet, which is small enough to fit in my kitchen.

I hope that these two things will help me incorporate our food storage into our daily meals more often.

When I first found out about them I bought some special metal "gripper" lids for the Rubbermaid containers to replace the plastic lids that came with them. The gripper lids make the containers air-tight and will keep out moisture, air (especially oxygen because of the oxygen-absorbing packets that I put inside them) and insects. The combination of the PETE containers with the gripper lids will also keep odors locked inside the container - no more freeze-dried strawberries absorbing the smell of dehydrated onions!

Speaking of insects - bugs are a pain in the neck. I had to throw out a bunch of mylar packets of quick oats this week because I hadn't sealed them properly and they were infested with tiny red bugs. This just about broke my heart. (I'm going back to cans 100%, and I've reserved the portable can sealer for the first week in September so that I can repackage what I've got in mylar pouches into cans.) The rubbermaid canisters with the gripper lids will not only keep bugs out, they will keep any bugs already in the food inside the container so that the infestation will not spread.

I cannot live with infestation!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


My Little Prince and I tackled the beginning of one of our big summertime projects today. We rescued all of our long-term food storage out of bedroom closets and out from under beds, and gathered it all into one place.

The one place is not perfect; all this food is now in our "guest bedroom". The ideal thing (in my mind, anyway) would be to have a separate room in the house that never was used for anything but food storage. We don't have that luxury in our house - but the spare bedroom is the next best thing.

It's better than it was, though, because now all the boxes and cans are in one place. I can see exactly what we have. I've tried keeping a running inventory but sending a kid running upstairs to get more rice when I'm out of rice in the kitchen doesn't make for convenient inventory control - I never remembered to change the pencilled-in number of cans while I was making dinner. And with everything spread out all over the whole upstairs it was too hard to keep track of. Now I can see at a glance what we have plenty of and what needs to be ordered. For sure it will be much easier this way to make sure that everything is rotated when I bring new stuff in.

My guests will have to sleep with giant #10 cans of rice and beans and oats and dry milk. I can live with that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The speed of sound

If my neighbors cannot hear their little dog endlessly barking every single night of my life, will they be able to hear its cries as I strangle it to death? Or would a single gunshot be quicker and quieter? Which do you suppose is more gratifying?

These are the questions that I'll ponder tonight as I'm listening to barking and wishing I could go to sleep.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Oh the thinks you can think!

Do you remember that Dr. Seuss book? I don't recall that we had that one in particular when I was a kid but we had lots of others.

Thinks I've had on my mind lately:
  • The Glass Castle
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog
  • Transcendentalism
  • Relief Society
  • Visiting Teaching
  • New babies
  • Scaling everything back
  • Expanding my horizons
  • Should I became a hermit?
  • If powdered milk smells terrible, has it gone bad? Because even if it's still good, it will taste terrible, right?
  • Smoking televisions, leaky plumbing and a/c problems
  • Am I a fraud?

It sounds like a funny story, right? Now to get it into rhyming verse...

Monday, August 9, 2010

tick tick tick

I just hate insomnia. Aside from the fact that it means tired and worn out the next day, I don't feel good while I'm up late.

The middle of the night is depressing. My mind races off in a negative direction and I feel despair, worthless, and hopeless at a time when I should be restful and peaceful. Even if I'm doing something relaxing my head and my heart revolt against me.
The middle of the night is wrong. I don't know why and it shouldn't make a difference but there it is.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What's new, Pussycat?

Nothing's new, that's what. Not a single thing. Except for a couple of brand new, razor-edged, pearly white teeth, I've realized that not much has changed. When my kids were little my house was a wreck from dawn to midnight. I thought I got better at keeping up with things but it turns out that in reality they got better at not destroying.

I have a little kid here, and she's brought the housewreck back with her. The daytime hours just fly by and before I know it, the day is over, nothing is done, and the little kid has consumed everyone's time, energy, and concentration.

But oh, what a little kid she is.