Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Start & Finish - Fingerless gloves

"Rabbit" fingerless gloves (my ravelry link)
'Wasting some time' this morning on Ravelry before needing to head out to the dentist appointments.... I was actually on the search for some easy sock patterns;  ya know... to try something new.
And I came across these cute simply fingerless gloves.

After spending HOURS at the dentist (9:30AM - 12:30PM) and some lunch at the local Family Restaurant, I came home, sat... and gave the pattern a try.
Three hours (?) give or take.... and they turned out so cah-uuute!

Cassie modeled them for me;  I sized the pattern down both on chain stitches (I did 24) and in the length of the palm and arms.  

I had just enough yarn in this little dollar-bin find!   50 grams / 71 yards.  And a WHOPPER of a price!  

Cassie has been showing a bit of interest in crochet too...

and we BOTH were in heaven when we found this jackpot at the local library last night! :)

#42 caught my eye;  maybe it's a sign seeing that Paul turned 42 yesterday.  Maybe my next-next project will be an afghan for him.   My next project will be one for Cassie.

And my current project progress....
As you can see, I "fixed" the stitch count and am growing correctly now.  So....what to do with those first 19 rows (the red/white/blue slants)......???
I suppose I REALLY should try to undo them...somehow.  But I won't make that decision until later on, after it's grown a bit more.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dinner plans changed - Raspberry goodies

Cassie and I had our eye appointments this morning, and we followed them up with a grocery shopping spree;  we were turning into Old Mother Hubbard around here :\

And then the 2nd day of the raspberry jelly process began.  The whole family picked two 5-quart pails full yesterday afternoon from the bushes.  Rather than smashing them and straining them through cheesecloth this time, I pulled out our foodmill/sauce-maker that we use to make our tomato juices every year.  The standard strainer allowed a few seeds to pass through, but when I measured out my 4-cups worth for each batch, I simply had the juice strain through another mesh sieve we have in the cupboard.  

In the end, I made three batches today;  each resulting in 7 half-pints of raspberry jelly.  And I STILL had juice left over for one more batch!

Me:  Um. Hun?  Do we really want...need... this much jelly?  Should I really make up another batch?  I have enough juice, but don't really want to use up any more half-pint jars.
Paul: 21 half-pints, huh?  Plus the 7 from the batch the other day?  I think that's enough, don't you?
Me: Yes dear.  But what else can we use the juice in?  Maybe I could look up a raspberry sherbet recipe since I have the ice cream maker in the freezer. ?
Paul:  Or how about syrup?
Me: OMGoodness! Yes!  I LOVE the berry syrups at Perkins!  

So, I put Cassie on the task of finding a recipe online for a syrup.  And in the end, I found out (with a little bit of math conversion)... If I boil my 4 cups of juice and then add 5 1/2 cups of sugar, bring to boil again and boil for a minute.  That's it!  EASY PEASY!    I then hot-water bathed it for 10 minutes in pint jars. EASY PEASY RASPBERRY SYRUP DELICIOUSNESS!

All the while, a chocolate cake was getting mixed and baking in the oven for Paul's 42nd birthday! :)
Sadly, he needs to work tonight.

Then, around 4:00, dinner plans were altered after today's syrup making.....

...and we had some Brupper (breakfast/supper).
YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMO! Delicious!  Those eggrolls will simply wait until tomorrow night.
And, of COURSE, after dropping a few bills at the grocery store this morning, you'd think we'd be stocked full of everything, right?  LOL.  
NO pancake mix.  
However, bless the Internet.  We will probably never have commercial pancake mix in the house again after finding and making this recipe (Basic Pancake recipe)

Alright, I'll give you THREE guesses as to what Candace has balled up here in her hand.  
One hint:  It IS part of a dessert. (This is from the other night, though.  I had forgotten about this picture)

Speaking of dessert... that Chocolate cake is calling my name.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I've been (sorta) off-grid

We've been all over the state the past few days!

Thursday morning, our day started with a 2-hour trip to a friend's car dealership to pick out our new vehicle.
I had taken my new project along with me using some Lion Brand homespun yarn.  I had the whole skein to go and I thought it would have plenty of yarn without running out for the trip.  Ummm....... I guess I misjudged how much I could use up in that time.  So, I was given permission from Candace to work on her scarf.  It's a good thing the kids were prepared to help out dear ol' Mom :)

And, after a 3-hour chitchat with our buddy Shannon (yes, a boy)......It's official.  I am now a minivan driving Mamma!  Oh boy.  

I'm not super materialistic by any means!  I carry a little card-wallet as my purse and not an extravagant handbag.   I dress very simply;  no extravagant outfits.   I will admit though.... the black leather interior of the van looks pretty extravagant :) !  

And after about 30 minutes of driving it, I figured out the radio system (pretty much).  LOL.  Seriously!  There was more than one time during the informational show-n-tell by Shannon when I thought that this thing is a very expensive computer!  LOL.    And I am realllly liking all the options I have at my fingertips on the steering wheel!  

The most memorable moment when learning about all the gadgets and what-not from Shannon.....
Me:  Shannon, ummm....where is the odometer?
Shannon:  Amy, you see that two-one-emmm-i showing there on screen?  That's the odometer.
Me:  Wow!  21 miles!  I don't think I've even test driven a vehicle with so few miles!  Ever!

So, it now has over 400 miles on it with all the other running we've done since then!
First, it was off to pick up Cassie from her week at the University of Wisconsin - STOUT for her Science-Technology-Engineering camp.  We enjoyed an hour long graduation ceremony and chatted a bit with some of the other parents before heading out again.

We had total intentions of stopping at home only briefly to pack up clothes for the weekend and to feed the animals.  It was about 8:00 when we rolled in home, but both Paul and I were a bit groggy and under the weather, so we postponed our departure until Friday morning.

And then.........total relaxation up at the Farm!  And no surprise here.... I crocheted.

On Saturday, I put the last stitch into the simple V-stitch afghan using the Lion Brand homespun:  Painted Desert colorway.  It is sooooooooooooooo soft!  Holy moly!  

Originally, I planned to do a different pattern.  But.  One thing about this yarn.... it's not the easiest to use when it comes to being able to find your stitches.  So, the V-stitch pattern was found and used;  it only requires you to crochet into spaces and not stitches.  Perfect.

AND!  The "Super Fast and Easy Throw" pattern was teasing on my brain the entire time I was working on the V-stitch homespun afghan.  SO, Caitlyn and I went shopping for colors for her.  The red, white and blue is what she chose.   The first few rows of the pattern were slow-going, and I ended up altering it just a bit on the single-crochet rows;  I'm sc into the ch1 spaces instead of into the stitches.  I like how it enhances the gaps more, plus... it's a bit easier :)

And darn!  I just took a closer look at the pictures shown in the pattern;  now I understand the comments from some of the other ladies who said it appears that their project was two stitches off on row 3 because their rows weren't lining up correctly.  My 5-clusters aren't lining up as shown in the pictures, but I followed the pattern.  I guess I'm agreeing with all the other commenters who suggested that an error was apparent in the pattern.  Gah.  Wish I would have looked sooner.  BUT, I was, afterall, off-grid for the past few days;  I only had the pattern in my hand that I had printed off before leaving.

Oh well....know what??? Caitlyn will still like it!  And now.... it kinda looks like a wavy flag!  Cool design change, right??!?! :D

Alright!  Ummm.....
Man!  AUGUST this week already!!!!! Eye and Dentist appts the next two days;  gardening ... crocheting... yup.  More of the same I think once Wednesday hits.  Then again, maybe a road trip or two will need to be planned to break in the van a bit more :)

Happy Sunday everyone.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Aran afghan throw - complete

The Aran afghan throw taught me a few things.
1 - How to read a pattern (Aran afghan throw - Free pattern from JoAnns)
2 - Bobble stitch
3 - Front and back post double crochet (not a big fan yet)
4 - Creator's control of design alteration :D

I used Red Heart super saver yarns:  
3.5 skeins of Cafe Latte, 
3.5 skeins of Coffee Cafe,
3 skeins of Real Teal.  
Each skein = 7oz/198g ; 364 yards.  TOTAL yardage:  ~ 3640 yards.  WOW!  I think that's a lot, right??  (And that DOES include the fringe).
Hook size J/10 - 6mm
Non-blocked finished size:  45" x 64" (not including the fringe).
I didn't follow the pattern completely.  I started altering after the first two stripes (on left).  For the next two stripe sections, I replaced the bobbles with treble-crochet (or is it triple-crochet?) stitches.  Oh yeah...another thing I learned is that there is a different between US pattern lingo and most other places.  
I brought the bobbles back in in the middle section, but I spaced them out every 3 single crochets, and built them up more (5 yarn-overs vs 3).    And then reflective-symmetry took me back to the other side.

As a last-minute idea, I added some fringe to this afghan.  And WOWZERS....did it make a difference! 
 I was running low on the teal, so I cut the yarn and organized it into equal-sized piles.  I had enough to do one fringe with each blue strip.....

Wasn't liking it.  NOR was I interested in going out to purchase another skein of the yarn.

So, with a little bit more of design leisure, I mixed in some coffee and tan, thinned out the teal into two sections each, and v'iola.  I much more appealing fringe outline.

Yes, I already have the next project lined up :D

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

He wants jelly

The raspberries were ready for their first harvest today!
Thankfully the weather was SUPER cooperative!  Overcast for most of the morning and coooooool! :) Low 60s.  I wore a long-sleeve shirt even.  And thank goodness for that!  Being the first picking, I moved branches in every direction and pulled an enormous amount of weeds.  My shirt helped protect my arms against all the scratchies.

Some of the bushes are producing amazing raspberries this year :)  YES!

Pay no attention to that bowl of candy! :D
3 hours later, 5 quarts have been picked.  And there are still BUKU BUKU TONS out on the bushes yet!!!!  I think our patch has outgrown our family.  LOL.

The other day when we were nibbling some of the ripe berries off the bushes, I commented about needing to pick up some more pectin for jam.  

And Paul says..."Let's do jelly this year.  There are always so many seeds in the raspberry jam."

So, I'm giving it a try!
I have never done a cooked recipe before.  
I have never used cheesecloth before.  
I have never "juiced" berries before.
I crushed them.  I wrapped them in cheesecloth.  I squeezed and twisted it.

And now, I have it resting over a bowl to drip, drip, drip any additional juice that wants to become part of our jelly.  I'll work on the jelly a bit later.  But for now, I want to simply put my feet up for a bit.

And then I remembered about the Shutterfly address that was given to us parents to keep tabs on the girls at STEPs camp this week...  By the looks of the pics, she's having fun.  I had no doubts.

Cassie's "Red" team;  she's the tall one in the middle.  No surprise there :)
And the silly shot
The entire STEPs group this week;  Cassie is the 5th red from the left in the back
And we didn't realize one of her classmates was signed up for this week too!  Carley.  Yay :)

Cassie on left and Carly on right;  eyeing up the Ropes Course 
Cassie and her roommate, Molly, and one of the counselors holding a safety rope.
TOTALLY looks like she is having a blast!

Breaking with a Granny Square

Over at Slugs on the Refrigerator (what a funny name, right??), a Crochet Camp is being hosted.  I didn't care to spend my time with the first project last week; it wasn't to my liking.  Plus, I also knew the basics of single crochet and all that jazz.
But week 2; we are asked to make a Granny Square.  This seems to be one of those patterns in crochet as the 4-patch is in quilting;  everyone makes at least one, and oodles more :)   
I grabbed some yarn that Cailtyn had leftover from her summer school crochet class, and had a go at the pattern.  I had been watching many youtube videos on this too, so I already had a good idea of how to work the pattern.  Her pattern had a few different steps than some I've watched, but I followed it anyway to the letter.  Cute lil' guy.

When I wasn't looking, Candace tried out the partial new afghan.  Making good headway; I'd love to be able to finish this baby up today, but that would be a VERY lofty goal.

There was a cuddle bug moment last night on the couch while watching the Avengers after an evening swim at Caitlyn's softball end-of-season party.  July 23 today.  This SERIOUSLY is the fastest summer I've ever lived through.  I think it has much todo with the fact that everything outside is "behind" in harvesting.  At this time last year, I was neck deep in beans and done with the raspberries.  Now, the beans don't even have blossoms yet, and the raspberries are reaching their first picking stage.  June was also PACKED with softball every night, making the days and weeks zoom by trying to fit everything in.
There is still lots of summer left, and once summer school is over this week, I am hoping things slow down a bit for the month of August before school starts up again.  I mean...come on!  I just found crochet and have so many patterns flying around in my head.  There will never be enough time in this life to do all of the projects I want to do.  That goes for ALL things, not just crochet!
One day at a time, I suppose.  And today....  a little pea picking; some raspberries, and ... crochet.

Happy Tuesday

Monday, July 22, 2013

"So where does this rank on your obsession scale?"

asks Paul, as I lazily crocheted away on Candace's Aron throw last night...
LOL!    DUH!

Candace's Aran throw is now half finished;  3 days in.  I've worked through 1092 yards already, using Red Heart Super Saver yarns.  I simply need to say....I don't know if I'll use this yarn again for such a big project.  It's coarse to work with.  :{  It's scratchy, and just ..... hurts....after hours on end of continue crochet.  But I still am holding faith that it'll soften after it gets washed.  Does yarn have a 'sizing' agent added to it, similar to fabric, to keep it stiffer while working with it???  

We shipped Cassie off, safe and sound.  She is SUPER DUPER DUPER excited about the week!!!!!!! I met her roommate briefly before shipping back out for the two-hour drive home.  She seems like the sweetest lil' thing!  AND, I'm patting myself on the back!  I held off the tears!!! LOL.  I felt them coming on;  NO CLUE why!  Stupid hormones we mothers need to deal with.

Alrighty.  Candace and Cailtlyn have been dropped off at summer school. Paul is off to work.   Laundry is underway.  Dishes are done.  Animals are catered to.  Garden given a walk-through.  So, I plan to sit with some more crochet for a few hours, keeping up with laundry at the same time.  Later on after summer school, the girls and I plan to pick our first batch of raspberries and make some jam, all before heading out for Caitlyn's softball end-of-season party at 6:00 tonight.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Aran throw progress and Cassie off to camp

It's a Slow Stitch Sunday over at Kathy's blog, and I'm getting some time in to the Aran throw before the day has to completely get started. 
As promised, I stopped crocheting the bobbles after the first two colors, and replaced those with triple-crochet stitches.  It makes the color bands a bit larger; growing the afghan a bit quicker, and much less frustrating.  The bobbles certainly ARE adorable, and they will return on the 'other side' as I near the finish line to keep some symmetry.  

And ohh......that Judy L!  She's been posting about yarn lately.  Being such a newbie to yarn, and already feeling the difference between the Caron Simply Soft I used in Slanted Shells and the Red Heart Super Saver yarns I'm using now, I started doing some self-educating on yarn weights and such...

At least now I know what WPI stands for!  But what still gets me..... BOTH the Simply Soft and the Super Saver yarns are "4/Medium", but they feel so different.  The Red Heart Super Saver clearly says "worsted" on the label;  the Simply Soft doesn't.  Does that mean it's a different type of 4/Medium yarn ???  The feel between the two is SO DIFFERENT.  The Super Saver feels so coarse as compared to Simply Soft.  Hm.  Am I missing something else?  Judy D (in WA) gave me some reassurance that the Red Heart will soften after I wash it.  Maybe 4/Medium yarns differ brand-to-brand just like 100% cotton differs.  You quilters know what I mean!  There are some cottons that feel soooooo lovely, and others that feel nearly like sand paper!

Anyway..... my yarn education (and Judy L) lead me to Ravelry.com.


People talk about Pinterest.  Psht!!!!!  For a newbie to yarn/crochet projects.......Oh Lordy!  Ravelry takes addictions to a whole new level!  LOL

And now that Caitlyn has had her time with the Slanted Shells, a new project is in the early stages for her.  I'm not sure if you can follow the link unless you are a Ravelry member, but here's a potential project for her:  Super Fast and Easy throw.  Gotta love that name, right??  LOL

I have another hour and half before I really have to get the day moving.  Cassie is scheduled for a week long Science and Technology camp for girls entering 7th grade.  The camp is two hours away, so we'll need to leave by 11:00 to get her to registration by 1-2PM.  She's excited!  This will be her first extended length camp away from home.

I'm hoping your Sunday is enjoyable and relaxing!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mamma needs to pay closer attention!

So, when the first batch of beans rotted in the ground, I went out to buy another couple packages for replanting purposes.

Blue Lake.  Yup.  That's what I want.

However, I missed one KEY lil' word!!!!!!

Suddenly, these stringy thingys were sprouting off the beans yesterday.  Sure shootin'!
I wanted BUSH style beans in the bean area......NOT pole beans!

So in moments, Paul and I are out to set up some fencing.


What a difference 16 days can make & yarn help!

My sister asked me what time I woke up.  
5:00AM everyday (almost) for the past three weeks.  I wake up to the alarm in order to wake up Cassie for her 6AM strawberry picking job.  I'm usually arriving back home by 6:10 to start my day.  Blogging, reading email and crocheting have been my early morning hours routine.  Love it!

It's a GORGEOUS morning out there today!  The heat has broken even more than yesterday.  So, for those of you on the East coast.....relief is coming!  62 degrees at the 5AM alarm.  The sun crested our neck of the woods around 5:45.... and I had a perfect opportunity for taking updated pictures of the garden that we all worked so diligently on yesterday.  Despite the HOT temps this past week, the rain we received a week ago, combined with the warm temps..... wonders for everything in the garden!

Garden (left) - July 4
Garden (left) - July 20
Garden (right) - July 4
Garden (right) - July 20
Paul, Caitlyn, Candace and myself spent the morning hours yesterday cleaning up everything in the garden.  In addition to the plants, the weeds also took off during this past week!

Inspired by Cassie's strawberry-picking method of pay, Paul and I came up with some "work incentive" for the other two as well.  For each row of corn they weed, they would receive $1.00.  We really aren't choosing to do so based on bribery.  There are parents who give out allowances;  we don't.  I don't think we'll ever start, either.  However, we are very open to 'paying per duty' -- and for the girls to learn a work ethic and to realize they can't simply get paid for doing nothing.  OR for doing a poor job.  Now, sure..sure..sure.  There's the argument that they will only be completing jobs with the sole purpose of earning money.  Well... is that really a bad thing?

For instance, Candace was a GO-GETTER yesterday, outweeding Caitlyn 2-to-1.  She completed 4 rows where Caitlyn only did 2.  Candace weeded her rows clean, where Caitlyn needed to go back and reweed some areas of hers.  Sure, there were tears by Caitlyn....and she may hate weeding forever because of this.  BUT, when the dough was dished out to the girls later in the afternoon, I kinda wonder if Caitlyn regretted not doing a better job, seeing Candace earning more than her.

Anyway... I know there are PROs and CONs about paying kids for working in a garden that they themselves will reap the food benefits from... but.  I'm hoping they learn the PROs of getting paid :)

And in the end, all but 3 rows of corn were weeded.  Works for me.

And they were all smiles when they could pick some early peapods...

and raspberries.

Enjoying her raspberries, Candace couldn't believe the size of some of our tomato plants already!  Almost as tall as her.  And they are growing beautifully!  All 18 in the main garden have oodles of blossoms and many tomatoes growing already.  The 14 in the upper garden are also in full bloom, but no tomatoes yet.

Sadly, we also had some bad news when walking around inspecting everything over.  The potato bugs have swarmed in in droves.  Six plants were completely infested; so infested that it would have taken oooodles of time to pick all of them off.  Therefore, Paul said to just leave them and that he would spray them once the wind was calmer.  Neither of us are big on spraying pesticides or herbicides, but he picked up an organic pesticide specific for potato bugs and we are hoping it'll do the trick.  Note: The weather calmed down nicely by 8:00 PM after our full day of garden and boating; the plants have been sprayed.

Going back to the raspberries for a moment..... OMGoodness!  The three rows we transplanted two years ago are LOADED with berries this year!!!  The four rows that were transplanted last year have some berries, but NOTHING like this.  We picked our handfuls of ripe berries.  I predict in this next week, full-swing berry picking will get underway.

Our Wisconsin grasshoppers must be in full reproduction phase too, because they were jumping all over the place in the raspberries.  I couldn't resist taking a picture, all the while thinking of Judy in TX and her monster grasshoppers!  Golly gee!  I don't know what I would do if I came across a grasshopper the size of the ones down by her.  This lil' guy pictured here could easily fit on a dime.

Other good news!  A few of Paul's tree grafts have budded nicely :)  He took a class on tree grafting earlier this spring, and as part of the class fee, students were give some rootstock and ..umm.... well, the tree-branchy-thingies that you graft onto the rootstock (I can't recall the technical term).  Four different apple tree varieties have successfully been grafted.  Yay.  It was an exciting moment to find this good fortune.

By noon, we were hanging up our garden tools for the day.  I. Was. Poooooped.  WAY more pooped than I had been in a long time.  Maybe these 11PM bedtimes and 5AM mornings finally caught up with me.  I certainly give credit to Cassie for working her long hours in the sun day-to-day!  6AM to noon most days, with some days going until 1 or 2PM in the afternoon;  all depending on how quickly the pickers reach the daily quart goal established by the owner.

By midafternoon, the girls were getting antsy and wanted to go boating.  Goofball Caitlyn here used her creativity and problem-solving skills to create some scuba gear.  She never did end up trying it out in the water.  I think she simply forgot once they all started jumping off the platform into the water, doing different twists, flips and turns.

And me...?  I crocheted.  And Paul read a magazine.
I have added the dark teal to the project.  And a silly story to tell...
This will be my first project where I'm reading off a pattern;  the other projects I've done were all created from watching videos on YouTube.
The pattern calls for making "bobbles" - little puffs of yarn.  Cute lil' things.  BUT, shortly after starting the bobble row, I started making the "err...ummm...is this right?" face.  I wasn't seeing any cute lil' puffs of yarn! :\
But I persevered...and when I went to turn the project for the next row of simple single crochets....

I saw the bobbles!!!  I didn't realize they were going to be on the other "right" side of the project and that I working on the "back" side.  Ha.  Learning loads of new stuff with this project.  This pattern is having me front and back post double-crochet, create bobbles, and to do a criss-cross as well.

HOWEVER.  This yarn....grrrr!  I certainly LOVE how easy it is to see all of my stitches, BUT, I'm not smiling very much on the bobble rows.  Having to pull through 7 loops, doing the best I can to keep the yarn loops loose...  it's just not happening all that easily.  It's not as 'flexible' as the Simply Soft by Caron I used on Slanted Shells.  And no where NEAR as soft.  Therefore, I'm changing the pattern from here on out.  No more bobbles until I get to the other side; I do like to keep some form of symmetry.   I really don't know if Candace will like snuggling with it as much as Slanted Shells if it stays this 'coarse.'   OH, and BTW, she stole Slanted Shells again to sleep with last night.  LOL.  Caitlyn has already called dibs on it for tonight.
So yeah.... knowing that this afghan may not be as soft, I am making a design call to remove the frustrations in order to keep my sanity.  I'm sure I'll try bobbles again... just not with this yarn.

Being so new to yarn, can any of you assure me that the Red Heart super saver worsted yarns will get softer over time?  After washing maybe?

Happy Saturday!