Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Near Death Experience of Mr. Coffee

I am, without a doubt, addicted to coffee. I don't know when I became officially addicted. I started drinking coffee my senior year in high school, but only drank it on and off throughout college. It wasn't until graduate school that I started needing it. Every single morning. My morning coffee is now affectionally referred to as Mr. Coffee and he even has his own theme song (to the tune of 'Rubber Duckie, You're the One'). Parents-I blame you for giving me the coffee addiction gene.

The N-boy used to be just as addicted to coffee, but lately he has cut back due to health reasons. Now he drinks---NONE! Oh the horrors! However, one of his "jobs" each night before bed has always been to get the coffee pot set up to come on automatically the next morning. Last night, as I was reading blogs in the other room, I hear an ominous "uh-oh" from the kitchen. The N-boy says, "The coffee pot just broke." Scarier words were never heard.

This is the piece that broke off. It's that tiny little hook that keeps the basket for the grounds latched into the whole unit. Who knew such a tiny piece of plastic could be so important Luckily, I am both resourceful and too cheap to want to buy a new coffee pot. A few strips of lab tape later and...tada! A working coffee pot. The N-boy has suggested we get some velcro to make this a more permanent solution, so we don't have to re-tape it every night. And I don't go bonkers from lack of Mr. Coffee. The coffee came out fine this morning, so until we get some velcro the tape method will work just fine. And since Daddo gave us a large quantity of very festivly colored lab tape last Christmas, we have no shortage of tape supplies.

On a somewhat less scary note, I made ginger cookies last night! I used a recipe I found on allrecipes.com. I'm happy with how they turned out, even if ginger cookies aren't a "summer" cookie.
Clearly the batter was equally as tasty!The N-boy and coworkers have given them a thumbs up, so I think the recipe is a keeper!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Knitting Needle Holder: Complete!

One of my goals for this last week was to make a knitting needle holder for my friend E. E and I are in a knitting club together (amongst many other shared activities). One of the other women in the club (who is also in my quilting guild) was showing us a knitting needle holder that she'd made. E loved the holder, and kept talking about how she'd have to find or make one for herself.

Well, her birthday is conveniently coming up on July 1, so I thought, "How hard can this be? I'll make her one!" And the best part of this is that it wasn't hard at all! I Googled to find a pattern and ended up on Multicrafty's site where she has a super tutorial. Using E's favorite colors (colonial blue and fuschia pink--all from my stash, no less), I put one together! I made a few small changes to the pattern, most notably using a 3/8 inch seam allowance when sewing the outside fabric border to the top of the inside pocket, to make it easier for me to flip the fabric over and stitch in the ditch to secure.

Here's a picture of the completed holder, rolled up and tied with pretty ribbon. On the insider there are three pockets for storing knitting needles of various lenghts, and wider pockets for circular needles. A close up of the inside, with a pair of needles in the top pocket. The inside with the top piece folded down in preparation for rolling up and securing with ribbon. This folded down piece keeps the needles from slideing out the top!
All in all I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. I can definetely see making more of these in the future. Although I did finish it in a day, I'm confident I could make the next one more quickly now that I've gotten the hang of it. E comes back from her vacation next week, and I hope she likes it!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Taste of Chicago

Another busy weekend here in Indianaland. Saturday morning started out with a bicycle trip to the farmer's market, where a wide variety of yummy things were purchased. This week haul included swiss cheese, steak, veal bratwurst, chicken-apple sausages, peas in the shell, rhubarb, coffee, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and yellow squash. Yum!Saturday afternoon and evening the N-boy and I went to the Taste of Chicago festival as trip leaders for some of our international students. I'd never been before, but BabyBrother had attended last year and gave us some great reccommendations for things to try. For those who don't know, Taste of Chicago is a giant food festival held in Chicago each summer. Admission is free, and then you buy tickets that are then used to get food at the booths. Different foods cost different amounts, and there are "taste of" options at all of the booths too. The "taste of" options are either smaller portions of some of the regular items, or special items that are cheaper. It was pretty crowded there, and hot too. We made sure to drink plenty of water and gatorade and rest in the shade, but we saw many people being taken for medical attention.One of the items BabyBrother reccommended was corn roasted in the husk from Dominicks. Please note the presene of my new favorite pink hat and the nifty retro sunglasses they gave as the favors at the 50's themed all-staff picnic a few weeks ago. The hat came from the NAFSA conference in L.A. and it says "All we do is work." I love it!The N-boy and I had a good time together at the festival. He lived and went to school in Chicago for a while (long, long ago), so he always enjoys going back to his old haunts. It was nice to spend time doing something fun, and to get out of town for a short trip.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Finished for Friday!

Lit and Laundry

This week I'm joining threeundertwo at Lit and Laundry for "Finished for Friday" again. Celebrating the fact that I did indeed manage to get something finished for this week! I feel like I have so many (too many) projects going on right now, so it felt super good to finish something.

This week's finish is the scarf I made for the Momcat for Christmas. Last Christmas. I'd finished up the knitting before, but hadn't gotten around to sewing the ends in. I'd actually put the whole thing, needles and all, into a gift bag and presented it under the tree last year. Last night, while watching This Old House on PBS I sewed in the yarn ends for each little stripey section. I find it particularly satisfying that I finished a Christmas present (even a belated one) on Rudy Day, celebrated in the 25th of each month and led by CEO at Organized Christmas. Now if I can just get ahead on this coming Christmas... Merry Christmas Momcat!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Friday, the Hungry Cat-erpillar

Friday the kitten has been getting himself in trouble. His mischief first came to light last Friday, when the N-boy realized that we didn't have internet. We'd had quite a few thunderstorms that day, and so we hoped that may be the problem. The N-boy put in a call to the internet company, who talked him through re-booting the router and all of the normal computer things. No go. So they said they'd send someone out to the apartment on Monday morning. We were fine over the weekend, piggybacking onto someone's wireless network.

Monday morning, the N-boy stays home and waits for the internet rescuer to arrive. He arrives and checks all of the things in the apartment. He is confused. We still have full power (or whatever full internet-ness is called) and our modem/router thingy is working just fine. Then he looks at the cord connecting the modem/router thingy to the phone jack.......

Apparently Friday-the hungry kitten- has been chewing on the cord and finally cut through the wires! We knew that he liked to gnaw on things-this is why we provide him with a large collection of cardboard boxes and a ginormous cat stand with lots of dangling ropes and mousies to chew on. Apparently that was not enough. The Internet Rescuer gives the N-boy a new cord and says he wishes all of his jobs were that easy. Following his departure, the N-boy starts to look around the apartment at the rest of the cords.

This was not restricted to the internet cord, but had spread to almost every single power cord in the apartment! Some were more damaged than others, but almost every single one had evidence of little teeth marks. The N-boy calls me at work: "Houston, we have a problem." Friday could have been seriously hurt or electrocuted, he could have started on fire, he could have started the apartment on fire, and he ruined several perfectly good cords. The N-boy calls the vets office, I start doing research online for possible solutions. After work we go out and get cable ties to corral some of the cords (like behind the TV) and bitter apple spray, which is recommended for spraying on the cords to deter pets from chewing. It's safe for them, but very unpleasant tasting (and unpleasant smelling!) We replaced the cords that were dangerously damaged and set up the cat grass chia pet to provide something else for him (and CatCat) to nibble on. CatCat has never chewed on cords (as far as we can tell), but we don't want her to start!

So far, we think it's working. We have our suspicions that Friday tried to nibble on something, as there was a small puddle of kitten vomit, which can be a result of attempted chewing on the bitter apple coated cord. We hate that it made him throw up, but this was such a serious health and safety issue that we felt we had to take such actions. We'll keep on eye on both the cat and the cords, but hope we have solved the problem. At least until Friday finds some other mischief to cause.The Culprit

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bike rides, knitting retreat and a cookout

Summer has finally come to Indiana. After a week of rain and rather cooler temperatures, we have now definitely moved into the hot and mugginess that will be here for the next three months. I think the humidity is better than when we lived in DC, but still, ugh.

It's been a very busy weekend. I'm possibly having too much fun documenting stuff with the camera to put here, so sorry for the length of the post!

On Friday evening we went to a minor league baseball game, but ended up having to leave at about the fourth inning when the game got canceled due to the rain. It was fun while it lasted though, and we plan on going back again soon. Of course my camera battery was dead, so there are no pictures of this soggy event.

Yesterday we started out with a bike ride down to the farmer's market and then over to the library to get some of the books I had on hold. Here's a picture of me on Bianca the Blue Bike with a basket fool of yummy farmer's market goodies! (I hate wearing a helmet. It smashes my curls and I think I look absolutely ridiculous. However, I wear the helmet because: (1) the N-boy has a thing for helmet wearing since he's seriously crashed his bike before, (2) I want my children to wear helmets and nothing drives me battier that seeing children wearing helmets and their parents not-what kind of a message does that that send!!!, (3) I've already crashed into a fence due to my failure to break or turn properly, and (4) the Momcat reads this blog). After that I went to a knitting retreat with my knitting group! It was so much fun! I worked on learning how to make a sweater. I apparently knit very tightly, so mine will be doll sized instead of baby sized, but that's ok. I'm learning how to do lots of cool things. Here's the project so far-it's all tangly because I'm having serious problems with the two ball of yarn and the circular needles. But I'm getting it done!

We also had some drawings for great door prizes! I won a nifty pair of socks made from Alpacas!
Here are the cutest little sheep slippers that one of the other girls won!

And here is my friend E with the cutest and softest little sheep that she won!
The Alpaca and Sheep vendors were there, so I also got some pretty yarn (and at half price!). The photo really doesn't do the color's justice.
After biking back from the retreat at the end of the day, the N-boy and I decided to go for a mini cookout. We've had the little grill for a while, but had never gotten around to using it. So we loaded it up into the car and drove down to a local park where we had steak and asparagus fresh from the Farmer's Market! It was super yummy and we had a great time. The N-boy had a rough day yesterday (got a flat tire on his bike), so it was super important we try to end the day on a positive note.

Today promises to be another busy day. I'm hoping to get some more crafting done this afternoon, but we'll see how much really happens!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Home Again

Well I made it back from the parent's house following a wedding, a long drive back to Indiana and a fun filled day of helping BabyBrother pack and move his stuff while he suffered from a 104 degree fever. I love BabyBrother very much, but so help me if I ever have to clean up his stuff again. He's a 20 year old boy, living with other 20 year old boys so I'm not sure what I was expecting. But, mission accomplished, everyone made it home safely, and BabyBrother has been put on antibiotics. I'm very thankful that the N-boy was well enough to come and help us. We couldn't have done it without him.

Saturday I'm going to a knitting retreat with a knitting group I'm part of here. It's the nicest group of women, and I wish I could meet with them every week. Unfortunately twice a month their meeting time directly conflicts with the NAMI Familiy Support group that I attend. It's super important to me that I go to that group, so I can only attend knitting the other two weeks.

One of my friends and coworkers and I went out to get supplies for the retreat tonight. Michael's was also having their "Stock Up Sale" so I got a whole bunch of Sugar and Cream yarn for the dishcloths that I love to make. I hope everyone is looking forward to getting these for Christmas because I'm on a roll!! Here's my fun pile of dishcloth yarn, the colors are much better in person.

It's a busy week here but hopefully I'll get some other crafting and sewing done sometime!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

First bike ride...and a panda!

Yesterday was my first adventure in riding my cute new bike to work and back. I'm proud to say that it went very well and most importantly...I didn't crash into anything! After my crash into the fence on Sunday (which has left a nice sized bruise that is slowly turning this lovely shade of green and yellow), I was concerned that my biking future was cursed. But it actually went very well. The N-boy very kindly biked up to work with me, and then met me to bike home just to make sure I was comfortable and didn't have any problems. I didn't ride the bike today, as I have to go pick up refreshments for a meeting over lunch. And somehow I didn't think that balancing a large tray of baklava on the back of my bike was a good idea. International educations need to be fed at meetings, so this baklava is an item of utmost importance.

I don't have any relevant pictures to share today. I did go to the knitting group and started a new project. I've moved up in the world to attempting a dishtowel instead of a dishcloth. Although I'm using the same pattern and just making it bigger, so that might be considered cheating. But I'm counting it! So instead, here is a cute panda bear from our Spring Break Trip to Washington, DC. Our students loved the zoo (and it was free!). Even though I lived in DC for over a year, I never did make it to the zoo so I was happy to have the opportunity. Mr. (Mrs?) Panda is eating a Popsicle made of apple juice and bits of fruit. Yum!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Name that Bike!!

The N-boy and I had a very full and busy weekend! On Saturday we went to cheer on a friend as she set off to walk in the half marathon starting at 7:30. An early start, but DH had been bright eyed and bushy tailed (as the Momcat would say it!) since 6:00, so at least I got coffee in bed before heading out the door. Afterward we headed down to the Farmer's Market for some breakfast at the diner inside and to get sweet corn and bacon! The market here is really well established, and we really enjoy going. This week was even more fun because part of the route for the marathon runner was on the path we walk to the market, so we got to see and cheer them on, too.

Then.... we went to find me a new-to-me bike! The N-boy LOVES to bike. He goes out and does crazy long rides and runs around in construction dirt areas and basically acts like a little 12 year old boy. Sometime I'd got with him for nice, leisurely rides on the smooth, relatively flat bike path that runs behind our apartment. Much more my style. But the bikes I'd been riding were both hand me downs-one from my BabyBrother and one from the N-boy. Needless to say, neither of them fit me well. So the N-boy suggeted we stop by the local bike shop to see what they had in used bikes. He seemed to have a firm idea in mind of what he thought I'd like, even though I was skeptical.
Here she is! I know she's a "she" but I'm still working on the name. So far my favorites are Bianca and Jeanie. The bike's a robin egg blue-ish in color, with cute little fenders. the N-boy spent part of his day today getting some of the rust off with steel wool, and shining her up. This is very similar to the bike I had as a child, where you have to push backwards on the pedals to stop. I've only crashed once so far by forgetting this. Luckily that was into a fence, and NOT the fence alone the waterway we were riding on!

In addition to the basket, the one other thing I really wanted was a bell. And this one was perfect!I'm going to try biking to work on her, maybe not everyday, but when its nice and sunny outside. We went on two practice rides this weekend to make sure I knew how to go, but it's supposed to be very rainy and thunderstormy tomorrow so I'll probably have to wait until Tuesday to try it out. Needless to say, with all of the biking and walking and other random weekend stuff, I did not get very much done on my challenge quilt. I'll try and get more done this week, though, while I have the chance to pull ahead!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Finished for Friday

Lit and Laundry

I'm so happy today is Friday! This week just seemed to drag by to me. I'm looking forward to getting lots of crafting done this weekend, and maybe going with the N-boy to find a new-to-me bike that actually fits me!

I'm participating in "Finished for Friday" hosted by Lit and Laundry again this week. My finish is just another dishcloth. I really enjoy making them because they're small and easy to carry around with me. And they don't require a whole lot of thought! I think next I'll use the same pattern but cast on more to make it wider and try and make a bigger dishtowel with a larger skein of yarn. I just love using the Sugar n' Cream variegated cottons!

Other projects on the docket for this weekend is continued work on the secret challenge project that the Momcat and I are both doing. I keep hearing rumors that she's been staying up until 1:00 a.m. to work on hers and is pulling ahead! Well we can't have that, so I'd better get a move on it while she's off working at camp this next week. I think I'll also pull out my new John Flynn Quilting Frame and see if I can get the N-boy to help me get it set up to practice on. I'm very excited about being able/inspired/willing to finish my projects more quickly and prettily, and want to get some practice in so I can do just that. I also have a nifty dress pattern that I'd like to make that I picked up at JoAnn Fabrics back during their memorial day sale. The N-boy picked out the fabric (brown with white polka dogs), so I think he'd like to see me make it, too.

I've been feeling pretty tired this week. I'm hoping its just from the return trip from California and the jet lag. I've also been feeling like there just aren't enough hours in the day. I'm sure this is something that we ALL feel from time to time. I think in part its because I look around at all of the wonderful projects people are working on and posting out here in blogland. I feel so inspired everytime I look at these, and want to try so many new things myself. But I know I have enough UFOs and WIPs to keep me going for a while without needingn to add any brand new projects. But maybe I should try and devote a little time each week trying something new or different that inspired me. This might help keep my creativity fresh and prevent me from slipping back into the quilting/sewing/knitting/crafting duldroms that I was experiencing earlier this year. With the N-boy's health continuing to stabilize/improve, this may be a good time for me to try some new things, too. Thoughts?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Back from LA and Jet Lagged

We made it back safely from LA last Friday evening. The conference was great, and it was super exciting to meet lots of people from all over the country in international education. We also got some good information from the Customs and Border, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Consular representative attending. So, woohoo!

The one thing I did NOT expect was how much I would feel the jet lag in both directions. It's only three hours! I've been to Russia many times, so I figured the itty bitty three hour time difference wouldn't have that big of an effect on me. Oops. First day in LA I feel asleep at 8:30 and woke up at 5:00 the next morning! Finally by Friday I was feeling better, right in time to come back to Indiana. Sigh. So now this week I've been super tired in the mornings, but wide awake at night. Again, I'm now feeling a little better, but I think it will take until the weekend to feel like I'm really back on schedule. And I've learned a very important lesson about not underestimating the power of jet lag.

Since I've been so tired I haven't been working on any quilting. I don't like to quilt or sew when I'm tired, becuase I just end up ripping it out again anyway. I have been working on another knitted dishcloth while watching Iron Chef American on Fancast with the N-boy each night. I'm hoping to have it finished by Friday for Lit and Laundry's hosted event.

Since I don't have any other pictures to post, her's one from the AQS show at Paduccah of me with Mariya Waters, the Best of Show Winner! I ran into her while at Hancocks of Paducah and asked if we could get a picture. She was so nice! Her winning quilt was just beautiful, although not something that I would ever want to make myself.
I'll try to get my dishcloth done soon and get it up here! And hopefully get some more work on the secret surprise challenge quilt for the Momcat challenge-don't want her getting ahead!