Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Child's Play

Wheee!! Today was a fun day for me. I needed to dye some fabric to make unpaper towels and before I knew it, I was getting rather crazy! It took some hussling on my part to be able to do all the steps involved in the process while watching 6 kiddos, my 5 plus my niece. Phew - a hard day's work but it was awesome to be able to create and to see the results.

The formula for today's creative fun was 4 vintage linen tablecloths and a bunch of napkins (that I had intended on selling a while back,) 5 different colors of fiber reactive dye, swimming pool chemicals and water = pure gorgeousness. This one turned out soooo fabulous. I think I'm keeping it!

I had to use the kids' swingset to set this one up the way I wanted. The color is still setting so I won't know the results until tomorrow! I can't wait.

I also did a bunch of other ones that aren't pictured because they are in various stages of completion. I'll post more pics tomorrow!

Monday, September 8, 2008

New Friends!

I found there was a group of Esty sellers right in my area. I was accepted into their group. yeah! And the funny part....I know one of the new ladies who just joined the group! It's a small world.


Malabrigo, Baby!

Today was a good mail day. :D

10 skeins of natural malabrigo
2 skeins of geranio
10 skeins of oceanos which is so freakin pretty it makes me cry!

Yep, 22 skeins of yarn. Mmmm.malabrigo no less. And I have no idea where to begin. The blue was sorta supposed to be for a sweater for dh. But now that I have it...I was something for myself! Maybe he can get gloves and a scarf?? Right?

I bought the natural to dye...but I'm not feeling like that right now. I may sell it to help me raise money for my next obsession!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Dark Side of a Crafty Business

I love to sew. I love to create. I love to make something and show it to everyone in sight, children included, and say 'Look what I made!!!' And when they gush and tell me how fabulous it is, that just makes me feel all warm and toasty inside.

So that's where my passion is...in the creating part. And selling? That's fun, too. Seeing that someone purchased something from my Etsy store, or from eBay or a 'For Sale or Trade' bulletin board or even from real life friend...all good stuff. But the part that I don't like is taking photos and actually getting my items in a place where people can actually see them...so that they can buy. I struggle with background choices and lighting. I can tell you that you will never, ever see my items photographed on a dirty carpet or with a cluttered room in the background. (Hey, not that there's not plenty of cluttered here...you just won't see it!) Every once in a while, I take a picture and I think, 'That's it! Perfect.' But mostly I just say...'Oh hell, I'll never get these listed if I retake the photos yet again. So my main goal is to get stuff listed...and quickly.

So last night, I spent in excess of 5 hours taking photos, inventory-ing my lunch napkin stock after I sold a bunch outside of my store and listing my latest round of products from my sew-a-thon. More then 5 hours! And that was kid-free time because they were in bed. If I had tried to do it during the day, it would have been a 10+ hour job. And somewhere in the back of my mind is this nagging suspicion that if I were a serious businesswoman, then my prices would be high enough to cover all the non-creating time which they definitely don't. I think I'm OK with it at this point because I am mainly motivated to move the fabric that has been taking up space in my studio. And I get the pleasure of changing pace and creating something totally different depending on which piece of fabric I am touching and what it says to me. I like that. It's what being creative means to me.

So today I have 53 items in my store. I thought I was all done until I found my box of knitting project bags. Oops! I gotta get those up today.

I'm a woman on a mission...I want to buy something completely frivolous and unnecessary...and I want it NOW. ;)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

How a $1 deal turns into a $1000 want

This is going to be quick because we are heading to a playdate in mere minutes!

I had to go to Jo-ann's on Labor Day...looking for the perfect fairy princess flannel for a customer. On the way there, I passed signs that our favorite thrift store was having a big 50% off everything in the store. Lucky for me, I just had my middle daughter with me and she's a good shopping sport. We got there 15 minutes before they closed. I tore through the store looking for size 14 (girls) jeans for my oldest and for size 6 or 7 jeans for my oldest son. I would have also looked for jeans for my middle daughter but we ran out of time. Somewhere along the way, my dd spotted a box.....a box incasing some sort of plastic junk, I was sure.

It contained this beauty...

The box was marked $1.99 (and would be half off that) but it was all sealed up by the thrift store folks so we had no idea what it contained or if it even worked. I ended up getting a huge bag full of clothes and the button maker for $25.

At Jo-ann's, we looked for a button refill pack...that they amazingly had but in a different brand. It looked to be the right size so I bought it ($7.99, I think) and hoped for the best.

We got home and have been having a blast with our little button maker. And not just my daughters. We did one of a yoda's eyeball from the Happy Meal box for my middle son and some pirates of the caribbean images for my oldest son. It's not perfect and some of the buttons don't turn out right for some reason or another.

So, I looked online for refill packs...and ended up immersed in a whole new world of button makers. I found a killer deal on a 2.25" button maker and I bought it and then I bought button refills for another site but in the process, I found they had button makers that did fabric covered buttons! And professional button makers and cirle cutting tools and, and, and.....to the tune of over $1000 in wants. {{sigh}} Not going to happen but a girl can dream, right?

So $1 at the thrift store, $7.99 at Jo-ann's and then approx $55 on the larger button maker and 100 refills. LOL

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Knitting, I've been knitting...and sewing!

Saturday was a mommy day and was sooo needed. The highlight of the event was going to a gathering of Jacksonville knitters from Ravelry. I can't even tell you how refreshing it is to hang out with other crafty women (and a couple men!)

I made some knitting project bags to offer to the group before I listed them on my store. I started with the pattern that I bought, the Wired Up Designs 'Knit and Go Girl Project Bag,' but then I started doing my own thing and creating totally different bags, one of which was a green asymetrical pouch that i can't show because I sold it. It was pretty darn cute!

Here are some of them. There was another batch that was being washed and I didn't get pics of those. I had fun sewing the bags...and using my stash fabric. The more I sew, the more I realize that my current stash does not suit me anymore. I am getting to the fabric that I have had for years and haven't had inspiration to use. I'm going to have to think harder or get rid of it. I have been thinking about the amount of fabric that I have used. I am fairly certain that I have sewn in excess of 10 yards a week for the past 6 weeks. Over 60 yards!! And I still have a lot left. The balance has now swung to where my stash now has more knits that are fairly new vs wovens that I have had forever.

The other exciting news is that I finished a knitting project!!! Wool pants (for cloth diapering) that I had intended for Lily. They actually fall right below the knee so I would call them pedal pushers. I made these blindly without consulting my knitting guru friends. And my stripes are less-then-perfect where they meet. And there were a LOT of loose ends to weave in. The off white is peace fleece and the stripes are from 1 skein of Noro. The crochet extraordinaire guy next to me suggested that I would have been happier if I had knit them flat and joined the seams. DOH! I guess I could have done the main part, stitched the seams and then picked up stitches on the sides to do the legs flat...and then joined them.

It felt quite wonderful to come home with a completed project! I started these pants at a hockey game in February. The one where my children knocked over 2 or 3 cokes and my baby girl was a thrashing wild child because she wanted to run around and not be confined to our seating area. I ended up taking her to the van and letting dh and the other children watch the game in peace. And I got to knit...while she was safely buckled in her seat. So over the months, I have worked on these. They went quickly until I got to the legs. For some reason, the legs gave my hands arthritic pain so I could only handle 2-3 rows at a time. I couldn't just carry the Noro down each leg because I wanted the legs to match. So I had to do a bit on each leg and work my way down. It was a lot of work....which is why the are knee pants instead of full length pants!!

The main think I had to do yesterday was weaving in all those ends and then make the i-cord. This was my first i-cord and it was fun...for the first 3 inches. Then I wanted to poke my eyes out with my knitting needles because I swear it took me 2 hours to get it long enough. Now if only my baby girl didn't hate them. {{sigh}} yep - too itchy for her.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bad, bad mommy

Herein lies my most embarassing moment in my history of being a mommy. Today I took a gamble...and I lost.

I went to Jo-ann's to buy some specific flannel for a customer. Nevermind that tropical storm Fay is knocking on our door. I made my decision based on the fact that she weakened overnight and was still offshore, still pretty far away and Jo-ann's was indeed still open. I opted to avoid taking the bridge to my normal Jo-ann's and I drove the other direction so that if by chance, the weather started churning, I wouldn't be stuck somewhere because the closed the bridges down.

People were on the roads, businesses were open. Everything was fine. I made it to Jo-ann's with no problems.

Not only did I buy the one print I wanted, I got several other really cute ones. I also noticed the husqvarna lady was not busy. Aha, maybe I could do that embroidery machine demo and be entered into the contest for the free $9000 embroidery machine just like the HUGE dislay sign promised! I asked her how long it took...only a few minutes. :) I only had my 2 youngest girls with me so it seemed like the stars where lined up right. I decided to get my fabric cut and then head back her way for the demo. And that's when I noticed that my toddler pooped. And it stunk. Bad. I decided to purchase the fabric and then buy it quickly before heading to the van to change her because of course I didn't bring a diaper bag in.

So far, so good. I made my purchase. The cashier was not happy to be working and mentioned how money hungry the corporate offices were for making them work when a hurricane was on the way. And they had only made $750 so far. I told her I was glad they were opened and I bumped that number up a bit more with my purchase.

And then the sky fell down. The rain was pouring and our van was not close by. We happened to be close to the restrooms so I decided to get her out of the nasty diaper. She could go 5 minutes without a diaper, right? At home, she has just recently started potty training and for the past 2 days, she has been telling me when she had to 'beep' and 'boop.' Then my 5 year old noticed they had one of the diaper dispensing machines right there! Woohoo! Only it turned into a boohoo because it took my money but was empty.

I stood at the entrance to Jo-ann's again and it was still pouring. Hey, I had the sling with me! I decided that I would put Lily in the sling and that she could surely last 5 minutes until I saw the demo and could get my named entered. Right? That sounded better then getting soaking wet and doing the demo in the cold air conditioned building.

And that was my mistake.

She didn't want to be in the sling. The lady was showing me that awesome machine and Lily was flinging herself around trying to get out. I tried to calm her down by crouching down and letting her out of the sling. All the while, pulling her dress down so that she didn't show her hoo ha to the other customers. I told the lady that this was a bad time and that we needed to go but she reassured me that it was OK or something to that effect. So close to the finish. So close!

As promised, the demo was quick. As the lady was wrapping things up, I asked about the contest. She said 'Oh that's over!'

And that was the moment that I noticed that my Lily peed on the floor...by the lady's foot. Oh let the earth open up and swallow me whole!! It was suddenly apparently clear that I made the most idiotic decision ever. Who in their right mind would do that? I had no choice but to tell her because her shoe was perilously close to the offending puddle. I cleaned up the mess but I KNOW the lady was just waiting for me to leave so she could tell the whole horrifying story to her co-worker and any customers that she encounters today and well...for the rest of her life! "I remember that time that that toddler almost peed on my shoe at work." Yeah, people just don't forget that kind of thing.

I'm going to flog myself now. Oh thank goodness I didn't go to my regular Jo-ann's. I think I might live through this after all.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sewing to Solve Problems

We have 5 kids in the house. I'm mom to 6 kids and I don't ever not include our son Nolan who died but sometimes his position in our family isn't relevant to certain topics...like this one. But, I can't just say we have 5 kids...so I have to include that little 'in the house' phrase so that I know I'm not excluding him from my overall count of children. It's not so much that I mind what other people think about how I include him...it has everything to do with how it makes me feel if I don't.

So, back to those 5 kids. They each have a toothbrush and we have had the worst time with keeping things separated. I have labeled them and the mark wears off. In the past, I have scoured the web for toothbrush solutions for large families. The cute little toothbrush holders are usually meant to hold 4 small toothbrushes, not 5 jumbo rotating ones that we sometimes get. One of the main things that I just kept coming back to is that there wasn't a good place for the kids to store their toothbrushes when they weren't in use. And, we only have one teeny tiny corner self in that bathroom so I really wanted a wall mountable toothbrush holder.

This was close...

I almost ordered the test tubes but decided to keep looking.

Last night, I was cleaning my sewing studio and I had one of those lightbulb moments. I started pulling out stash fabric and created this...

It involved embroidery, fusible vinyl and clear vinyl fabric. I also inserted a piece of template plastic inside to give it stability. The final product should be waterproof. I'm a little concerned about how the vinyl pockets will handle day to day wear and tear. I consider this one to be my prototype and I can make a new one, in the future, if needed. I'm pleased with the end result. Not what I initially pictured but this one will work nicely!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Why I call them my little monkeys

Because they are!!

I can't believe it's even possible for a little boy to climb up a column like this but he does. We also have wide columns (even taller!) inside the fellowship hall of our church and I've caught my boys up near the ceiling on those things, too.

Kendall doesn't quite have the same dexterity so she stays lower to the ground...right where I want her. I'm always worried someone is going to fall and crack their head open. So, no, I don't 'allow' this. I did have to get a couple pictures before I forbid it.

I do remember scaling doorways when I was a kid. And my kids do that now, too.

DH bought the kids new socks last night, short black sport socks. I'm not totally sold on them...seems kind of wrong to not be white. It just reminds me of an old man wearing black socks with sandals. DH thinks they are awesome because they won't stain like white socks do. My kids were THRILLED with their new, soft socks. Greyson invented (his word) a new game called 'Sock Sliding.' He and Kendall were running and sliding on our hard wood floors. Kendall wiped out a couple times. I told them they need to stop because I didn't have any clean clothes to wear to the ER. LOL

So, that brings me to today's monumental task....laundry! Ugg.

I Love Thee, Thread

Today was not a fun sewing day. For the most part, it was a yucky house cleaning day. I did make quite a bit of progress in the dining room. That's where we homeschool and where the kids color, draw and cut things up. Imagine bits of paper under the table and broken crayons and beads under the mule chest. And don't forget to imagine the letter A in sticker form stuck to the wall...because that's what one of my munchkins did when I wasn't watching. So it's a crafting room in addition to being a dining room. And it's a dumping ground. I sorted papers and found that we missed the deadline for our cell phone rebate. (bang head on wall!)

While I was cleaning, I made my 8 year old son come in and work on a math 'game' that we have. He sulked and moaned about it and we had a little talk about priorities...meaning I was going to take away screen priviledges so he'd have plenty of time for math! He had a hard time with multiplication so I brought out some M&Ms and we grouped them so he could see the math problem. It seemed to help and he buckled down and got the work done. When he was done, I gave a different one to my 11 year old and she did it pretty quickly.

So, that was most of the day...cleaning sorting and a bit of homeschooling. DH cleaned out our van....like a 4 hour cleaning job!! It was bad, very bad, and it was loaded with MIL's stuff that has been weighing down the back of our van for a couple weeks. He finally went through it and cleared out our van. It looks new again. :D Once we all got cleaned up, dh took us out to dinner...but first we had to stop at Joann's.

I love thread almost as much as I love fabric. A couple months ago, my handy dh hung pegboard in my sewing studio for my serger, wooly nylon & jean stitch thread. It gives me great pleasure to look at it...so organized and inviting! This picture was before I completely filled the board...so all those empty hooks are full, too.

Jo-ann's is having a 50% off sale on all their thread so I had to stock up on missing colors. I have a new thread addiction....maxi lock swirls, the varigated stuff that I use in my loopers of my serger. It's just so pretty...but who in their right mind would pay $10 a cone??? Even at 50% off, it's a whopping $5 but I just had to add 2 new colors to my collection. Today I got the loveliest orange swirl and a green swirl, too. I also stocked up on Wooly Nylon, another thread addiction. Although my love affair with wooly nylon is waning a bit....since I discovered how easily it MELTS when you iron something with a WN edge. Whoops!

Here's today's booty...

Does it look like $75.44 to you? That's 2 yards of lilac flannel, 2 yards of the lovely brown and rust flannel and a remnant of felt for Mia, in addition to the thread. More then I expected it to be when the cashier rang it up. Cha ching...it adds up fast.

The good news is that I don't think I need anymore serger thread...unless a nice soft green comes along. LOL I am lacking in regular sewing machine thread colors but that will have to wait until another 50% off sale.

After our Jo-ann's run, dh took us all out to eat at The Cheesecake Factory. He hates that place but he went because I like it and it was close to Jo-ann's. It's asking a lot of the kids for them to sit and behave for the LONG wait there but they did pretty good, not perfect but not too bad if you overlooked a few minor infractions.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Internet Addiction!

Last night a wind storm came through. It didn’t sound too bad from where I was but when I came back to the house, after working in my studio, I did notice that our Rubbermaid garbage shed was blown askew. Earlier in the day, my 3 middles wanted me to let them play with the hose so they volunteered to clean the whole thing…and they did a darn good job, using soap and washcloths in addition to the hose. Anyhow, it was all opened up after their cleaning job so I’m sure that contributed to its little flight in the backyard.

So, although our personal experience from the storm was less then blogworthy, there was another side effect……insanely slow internet service! Like slower then 1993 on dial-up. Yet, I’m so addicted to the net that I kept trying to see if it had been fixed. Nope. I even cleaned the office while waiting for pages to load ever so slowly. And I realized that I just can’t do jack without my internet service.

Here’s my high-level to-do list…

1) List (on Etsy) the new unpaper towels that I have finished over the past couple days. I was able to get all my pictures edited so this should be a relatively quick job.
2) Prepare my packages for mailing…not without paypal shipping.
3) List MIL’s old square dance outfits either on Etsy or eBay. I think most of them are over 20 years old which would meet Etsy vintage definition but there are a couple newer pieces that I’m not sure of. I’m having a hard time with the thought of selling those lovely petticoats…which is why I haven’t listed them already.
4) Download the 2nd part of my latest audiobook. This was the thing that was the most maddening to me. I’ve become accustomed to cleaning and working with listening to an audiobook. It fulfills my inner desire to multi-task during every possible moment. So, the internet being down wouldn’t have been toooo bad if I hadn’t just finished part 1 of ‘The Disappeared” and I was really getting into the story. Next time, I will download all parts at the same time.
5) List the rest of my scrapbook stuff and the remaining MIL stuff in my dining room on eBay.
6) Reply to a couple emails that I’ve been putting off.

I thought about baking something but then I would have had to pull out a cookbook and pick a random recipe without user reviews and feedback! LOL

I then thought I should see if I could find an online notice about the outage….not unless I wanted to wait 15 minutes in between each page loading! 15 minutes for google to pop up, 15 minutes for the search results, etc.

It was just maddening and further proof that yes, I am addicted to the world wide web. I rely on it for just about everything…from ordering pizza to checking our account balances.

So, you can see that I posted here. Internet is marginally better…maybe similar to my first days online…browsing bulletin boards on Prodigy on my boyfriend’s (now my dh) new home computer!

Hopefully I’ll be able to get my listings up. I’ve created a basket full of pretty unpaper towels and more are in various stages of completion. On the homefront, I’ve got homemade cinnamon rolls in the works this morning, too, and plans to tackle the massive mountain of clean clothes. . I’ve been busy washing fabric, dyeing fabric and rewashing it so our regular laundry got neglected. {{sigh}} Why did I do that to myself?? It’s so much easier to just fold it as each load completes hot from the dryer so they aren’t too wrinkled. That won’t be the case here. We will have wrinkles a plenty! And I hate ironing…unless it’s fabric or one of my creations.

Here's just a couple photos of what I've been up to lately.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Locked Out!

I headed out to my sewing studio around 9:30 last night. I had a stack of flannel unpaper towels that needed to be serged and I had some already completed ones that I need to take pics of. My oldest child joined me for a while. She played on my laptop while I worked and listened to my newest audiobook, The Disappeared...a free one I got from audible.com..it's got aliens and is set in the future, not my normal type of book. I'm not digging the narrator so it's going to be a slow 'read.'

So I was busy working and taking photos, ironing, carefully folding and then packaging up my newly listed sets. Around 1:30 a.m., my camera battery died so I decided to call it a night. I headed to the house...only to discover that I was locked out! I did have my keys when I went out to my studio. When my oldest child left, she took my keys! Thus, I was locked out.

I banged on the door a little, hoping my dh would be in the office where he could hear it. No answer so I knew he was already in bed. I debated whether I should wake the whole family up by ringing the doorbell and I initially decided not to.

I came back out to my studio and decided to just spend the night out there. I had a sleeping bag stashed in a closet and a pile of fleece fabric as a pallet and a another yard of fleece as my pillow. It wasn't too comfy so I went to the house and rang the doorbell once. No one answered the door so I resigned myself to an uncomfortable night on the floor.

My dh came looking for me around 6:15 a.m. with our toddler in his arms. I'm guessing she woke up first looking for mama. We settled into my bed and I was able to get a glorious 3.5 hour nap so I don't feel too bad.

Today's agenda is to get more photos taken, to finish up my stacks of already cut unpaper towels and to list more on my Etsy store. My first Etsy bill is due already...$12. I'm not rolling in the dough but my 8 sales covered that and then allowed me to make a couple small Etsy purchases. Not bad for using up my stash fabric!

Today I am dyeing more fabric. I really enjoy this part of creating. The results can be so unpredictable. Yesterday I had a perfect brown and my fabric was fully saturated. By the time I used my mordant and then rinsed and rewashed it, I had an amazing mottled multi-colored fabric but not brown in the least. I think this is where my lack of following the formulas exactly comes into play. I'm not heartbroken at all though...even if I didn't get the results I was aiming for.

While I was mixing up a batch of scarlet, my 5 year old daughter climbed onto the table to help me. In the process, she knocked the bucket over spilling red dye everyehere. I grabbed my white dishtowel and sopped it up trying to catch it before it dripped onto our dining room carpet. I saved the carpetbut my hands are now a lovely bright red! My oldest said she was going to call me murderer until it fades away. It does look a bit gruesome!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

School's In Session

We have been winding down our summer vacation and I've been trying to wrap my mind around homeschooling 4 kids. It just seems like a monumental task. One 7th grader, one 3rd grader and my 2 newest students...my kindergartners. All while keeping my toddler out of trouble!

Today was one of those days that made me realize that will will get by just fine. We had a rare pajama day. The kids usually get dressed as soon as they get up today was an exception. But it doesn't really matter because we didn't have to go anywhere today.

I pulled my fiber reactive dyes out so that I could mix some brown to use on more flannel for cloth napkins. My 11 year old came over to help. Before I knew it, she had formulated a hands on lesson on primary colors for the younger kids. And she carried it out. I didn't prompt her or ask her. She just wanted to do it and after a bit of cajoling, the other kids wanted to participate. And they enjoyed it. And they learned a little bit, too.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A confession

This is really hard for me to admit but I feel compelled to confess a deep dark secret. There was a time, many years ago that my sewing adventures involved sewing vests from pre-printed panels. :'( I know, I know. It's just horrible! There's just no defense for it even though this was 14-15 years ago. My co-workers even paid me to sew vests for them and their family members. It was insane. There were Christmas vests and Halloween vests, Back to School vests and even a Noah's Ark vest.

This next sewing project relates to those awful, awful vests. I still have scraps of fabric in my stash from those vests, mostly the coordinating fabrics used for lining. Tonight's feature was created using the navy lining from the Noah's Ark vest that is long. long gone. As in probably in a landfill gone!

Navy background, animal print twirl skirt with brown grosgrain ribbon trim and attached korker ribbon 'bow' made from ribbon that I made. Well, I didn't make the ribbon but I wrapped it around dowels and baked it and then I heat sealed the ends.

I must say I think it turned out great! I think it's about a size 18 months, possibly 2T and I think it's destined to be sold. I'm feeling a desire to open my own cart. :-X

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sewing Fool

I have been a sewing fool lately and it just feels so good. My serger, coverstitch and sewing machines have been burning rubber. I'm motivated to actually process my 500 yards (this is a guess I have no idea how accurate it is!) of stash fabric. Today's project was unpaper towels.

The loops of the 'basket' hang over the paper towel rack...which is now empty.

There was a time not too long ago that we used more then a roll of paper towels every day. And this was a roll of Bounty, not cheapo paper towels so it was a BIG roll. The main thing was that we used a paper towel EVERY time we washed our hands. Change a diaper, wash hands, use a paper towel to dry. Rinse or wash a dish, use a paper towel to dry hands. Clean the bathroom? Use 10 paper towels. Get the picture? A lot of paper going in the garbage!

We had dish towels but we really used them for the lowest jobs...cleaning messes on the floor or big spills on the table. I think we all had a germ phobia about what that towel might have been used for. Paper just seemed cleaner.

It wasn't until after I started using cloth diapers that I started thinking about the waste of it. So I made an effort to use dishtowels for my own use. I hung a hook up high for my own dishtowel that wouldn't get used to wipe a little snotty nose and then rehung. (Who am I kidding, my kids just leave it on the floor after they use it!)

My dh has been a bit resistant about giving up paper. 1) he's a germaphobe and 2) dish towels are nothing like paper towels. Neither is flannel. It's too thick or something and just doesn't seem very absorbant to me. I made flannel dinner napkins a while back. The kids and I use them but not dh.

Anyhow, it wasn't until we inherited dh's grandmother's thin dish clothes that dh started to like using cloth. The only problem is that they are kind of big. They are very thin, similar to birdseye so I ran with that thought. Just today, I made over 40 unpaper towels that are smallish - 10 x 8 inches. I'm pretty excited! For the first time ever, we did not buy a case of paper towels when we went to Sam's. For each roll of paper towels that we don't use, that's $1 saved! This should save us almost $30 a month!! Sad, but true.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sometimes things go horribly wrong

You reach a point where you think maybe just a little more this or a little more that and before you know it, you have something like this.....

;D ;D ;D

I can't draw worth a darn. I know it. I tried hand embroidering the face TWICE before I gave it to my 11 year old for her to try. And no, she didn't make that mess that you see above, I did! My final attempt was with the fabric markers. I just couldn't get the lips to look right and they kept growing. Then I tried a darker color to see if I could get more defined. :'(

I had to resew the whole doll, redo the hair, etc. And I was racing against the clock. I barely made it.

Here's the one that is on it's way to the birthday girl (in S Carolina so I can't hand deliver it.)

And of course NOW I notice how dusty my window sill is. :P

Along with the doll, went an outfit for the birthday girl....

Yep - leftover frog fabric from the quilt. I went out there this morning with plans to sew with 3 cute coordinating prints that I bought from Jo-ann's recently but that went out the window when I saw that the frog fabric matched the Old Navy 'blank' that I had on hand.

Oh....I guess I forgot to blog about the quilt...

I'm on a sewing roll lately. Kendall and Lily inherited a full size bed from MIL a couple months ago...well, actually we bought it from her. Anyhow, it came with....um....bedding that is...ummm....nevermind. ;) It just wasn't girly and pretty.

So, I have been scouring the stores for the perfect set. I like quilts and not puffy comforters with characters...not that we haven't had that type of bedding. Anyhow the stuff I like seemed to be the pricey stuff. But I just couldn't stomach paying $100-$200 or more.

Cleaning out my studio helped me find motivation. After lunch on Sunday, I refound a stack of coordinating frog fabric that I had bought on clearance for $1 a yard. I didn't think there was quite enough and I wanted something to pull together the fabrics so I also pulled out a faux minkee fabric (very plush and super soft) that I had bought on clearance online for $1.95 a yard. And I started cutting 8" squares and then I figured out placement.

I was able to get 98% of it done on Sunday before I went to bed. I finished the binding in about an hour today. It's 100% done on machine. I used most of the frog prints and only have enough left to piece together shams which worked out perfectly. The quilt, however, is NOT perfect. Some of the edges don't line up because the minkee was REALLY stretchy. Oops! I think that done is better then perfect though. I'm pleased that I saved money, used what I had and created something that makes my girls happy. (And it also makes my thrifty dh happy, too!)

I feel like I had a choice here and I did the right thing. I could have easily bought something that would have been 'perfect' in that the corners would have been lined up and they would perfectly coordinate with the sheets etc. But this was something that I made with my girls in mind. It also has the frog theme which is obviously an important symbol in our family.

Without further ado, here it is...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Finally...sewing time!

My past couple weeks have been consumed with estate stuff and ebay. I really haven't had any crafting time other then the midnight knit in at mny LYS and then a bit of car knitting here and there. Yesterday I forced myself out to my sewing studio. Before I could sew, I had to do some major cleaning up. There must have been more then 100 yards of fabric on the floor that used to be stacked on the bottom of a hanging rack that I borrowed for the yard sale. Luckily, my eBay selling spree opened up some closet space so I was able to find a better place for my large cuts of knits. I have an insane amount of thermal knits in cool prints that is destined to become PJs for the kids...some day before they outgrow pirates (boys) and butterflies (girls.) My kids love Hanna Andersson zipper pjs but they only go up to size 100 so I can hopefully recreate them in their sizes with some of the knits I have stashed. (which reminds me that I need to find a cheap source for long sippers.)

After the floor and my work surfaces where mostly clear, I finished Greyson's birthday shirt that I cut out on his birthday a month ago. It's a pale yellow blousy kind of collared shirt with elastic on the sleeves. He loves it and actually wore it to sleep in last night. I didn't get a picture.

My next project was turning one yard of ugly fabric into something cool. The fabric was sent to me as part of a swap on another BB. The fabric I got was an icky feeling taffeta type fabric with a strange border print running down the middle. It told me it wanted to be doll dresses...mainly because I couldn't imagine a real child wanting this fabric against the skin.

I turned it into doll dresses and I am quite pleased with the results.

There was a 3rd dress but it got melted on the bottom of my iron. Whoops! I guess it got a little too hot. Now I have a yucky iron and I haven't been able to find the hot iron cleaner locally. It's been out at my normal shopping places. (I've been looking for it to clean up my old steam press for ebay.) I have almost ordered it from ebay at least 3 different times but I just can't bear to spend $6+ on shipping for a $4 item.

Friday, July 4, 2008

More Estate Stuff & Some Homemade Goodness

We have been going through more storage unit stuff. There was some cool finds in the box of linens. A few really bright and colorful printed tablecloths from the 50s or 60s? I'm not sure how old they are. There were some hand embroidered ones and a couple fine damask linen ones. And most had matching napkins. We just don't use tablecloths so I have no use for them so they will go to eBay. I might have to keep one though...the blue and white one with cherry? blossoms.

I washed them yesterday and hung them on the line. I normally get a kick out of hanging stuff on the line but this was even exploded from that. I am 100% positive that using a clothesline works as a natural antidepressant. Especially when it's vintage linens at are dry by the time you work you way to the last one.

Another cool find.....

Vintage dishtowels that I am keeping!! Mine, mine, mine!!!

I'm massively excited about them! There are a ton of the ones with red thread 'serging' on the edges. At first I wondered if they were diaper flats but they are really long and skinny. I guess they could be. They do look like birdseye. I really think they are the 'paper towels' of the past based on the number of them. I also have 7 incredibly awesome days of the week dishtowels. These ones are a bit thicker then the red edged ones and feel like flour sack material. (I got 3 flour sacks, too!) Each day has a cool 50s? lady doing a specific chore for that day. Wednesday is knitting!

My dh is not as non-paper product friendly as I am. He is a germaphobe and he doesn't like anything that contributes extra laundry. But...he thinks these are cool and maybe he'll use them because we think they were his grandma's. They are times that I think our grandparents did things the right way and I think this is one of them. Here is my new stash of unpaper towels!

In between sorting, I found time to make 2 batches of homemade yogurt. I was experimenting and the first one didn't ever set so I did a repeat the next day with slightly better results. My first mistake was trying to add my berries to the yogurt at the front end. The second day, I had the temp in my roaster pan too high and I think I killed some of the active yogurt cultures. I was ready to give up on that batch, too. I accidently left the roaster on all night and when I went to dump it, I had yogurt! I have been assured by a yogurt 'expert' that I won't kill the family with it. On the contrary, the yogurt I made can be eaten by someone with lactose intolerance because of the extra 'cooking' time.

I also made a batch of homemade granola using this recipe.


As far as eBay goes, I now have 51 auctions up. Two auctions sold already. If everything sold sold with the bids, it would be almost $70. I have a ton of watchers in the wings so I think that number will go up, up, up.

I have a ton more to list. Yesterday's load included some fine china, correlle and a neat pyrex dish. I also have 4 square dance petticoats and square costumes to list. Kendall has had a lot of fun with the petticoats even though they are for a full size woman! The elastic could be cinched for a child though. I think we might have to keep one for dress-up.

Monday, June 16, 2008

No crafting blues

I've got the no crafting blues in a bad way. Things have been chaotic with MIL's move. DH has spent virtually every non-working moment at her house since we got back from vacation. that means I have been a single parent. The 4 oldest kids are fine but my baby girl is high maintenance! I have come to really rely on the break I get when dh is home. I don't even see an end in sight because we finally realized that time is not on our side and dh rented a storage unit today. That means that we get the pleasure of paying $100 a month until we can deal with each and every box. I think I mentioned how slow MIL is at looking through stuff. DH is even worse! We went over there to pack yesterday and he kept bringing me stuff from his childhood to look at. He would look through every page of the photo albums and then show me and tell me about every relative. I love a walk down memory lane but not when it means that we don't have time to sort stuff...and then have to pay for a storage unit. I'm a quick processor. I've always been able to make quick decisions and the slow decision-making people drive me a little batty.

So...no lovely sewing pictures to share. I've been sorting through boxes. No knitting progress either. I've just got a big mess of a house that needs to be reaaranged and cleaned in prep for the new stuff we have inherited from MIL. wah wah wah I think I'm going to explode.

At the very least, I *will* be going to my LYS knit in this weekend. The thought of that just might tide me over a few more days...until I can get a 'hit' of creativeness.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Birthday Gift for a Special Boy

My oldest son's 8th birthday was yesterday and this was my gift to him...a pirates of the carribean costume. We are calling it a pirate costume but it really looks more like a captain. Anyhow, he LOVES it! The pattern was Simplicity 3844. I am shocked that the sizing worked out so well. I expected it to be huge since the smallest size was 7 and my son wears a 6...and I usually have a problem with the big 3 running way to big to start with. This pattern size seemed right on...at least for the size 7.

I made the boots (covers over regular shoes,) pants and the jacket. The first picture is minus the black pants because they weren't finished until later in the day. I need to finish the shirt, too.


Boots - I used leftover red vinyl from my cube seat project. A brown leathery looking vinyl would probably be even better but these are fine.

Jacket - I used stretch velveteen from my stash that came from Joann's clearance section last year. I love the feel of this fabric and I had planned on matching sister jumpers but that didn't happen. I did have to buy $17 worth of buttons - 8 larger ones and I used 12 smaller ones instead of the 15 it called for. I didn't do the ones on the back. 1) to save a couple bucks and 2) because I messed up on the back flap. The directions were not clear to me and I sewed, ripped, sewed and ripped several times. By the time I figured it out, the damage had been done and my final result is a bit squinched up which bugs the heck out of me. If I had more fabric, I'd remake the back. I also had problems with the sleeves. The sleeves are oddly shapped with an upper and lower sleeve and cuffs that have a rounded edge. Of course, I have sewn sleeves on a hundred times so I didn't mark the dots...I just did the pyramids...and I sewed the sleeves on backwards. Then I sewed the trim on the wrong side of one of the cuffs. I really, really think the pattern markings were poorly done anyway. These sleeves had a definate right sleeve and left sleeve and they should have had the cuffs done after the sleeves were attached to the body. There were just too many variables to get wrong. I suppose it didn't help that I was working on this at 3:00 in the morning. The final sleeves are still not 100% right since the buttons should end up right over the top of the sleeve vs towards the front like they are. Oh well!

Pants - black fabric from my stash.

Shirt - I have cut a shirt out of a pale yellow top sheet that my MIL gave us...that I had no use for. (She gave mismatched sheets and pillows and I can't stand when things don't match.) The thing that appealed to me about using a sheet was that it was well used and thus super, duper soft. I placed the pattern pieces so that the sleeve edges were on the top edge of the sheet...so I won't have to hem them. I did the shirt hem edges on the bottom edge...allowing for the hem and moving the pattern off the edge a bit. I hope i can sew it today. I watching a friend's dd in addition to my crew so I might not be able to.

And just for fun, his 'cake' was homemade cinnamon rolls based on his request.

The Red Tent

While working on this project, I started listening to a new audiobook...The Red Tent. I am really liking this story and all the details about sheep, wool, spinning and weaving are pretty neat.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Home Again

It was a long, long car trip home but we made it. We attempted to stay at a Walmart but I just wasn't feeling safe so dh found us a campground close by that allowed us to get a good night's sleep before the final leg of our trip.

I don't know if I mentioned it before but we allowed my brother to stay in our house when we were gone. He is in between houses again so I'm sure he appreciated it. It also made it nice that we didn't have to take Mia's rats to her friend's house...because the mom wasn't too crazy about the idea. So, coming home after my brother was here was kind of funny. He had asked me if there were any things he could do while we were gone. I told him he could finish stripping the wallpaper in the kitchen. DH said he could do yardwork. Neither of those things were done. He did organize our DVDs and CDs in our cases...which means that my blockbuster dvds are not where I left them. And at 29 years of age he had no idea that it was a bad idea to put a half-used jar of spagetti sauce back in the pantry. He did that twice actually. And I found an opened bottle of barbeque sauce, too. He must get food poisoning on a regular basis.

As far as knitting, I started Greyson's Wonderful Wallaby on the final leg of our trip. I got a good start on it but didn't get as far as I would have thought.

So we got home Tuesday and the camper is mostly unpacked. DH cleaned out the van and he filled a LARGE trashcan with trash from under and around the kids' seats. I had kept our area fairly tidy and I did clean up the back area several times over the course of the trip so I was shocked at how much crap there was. My kids are just slobs! They would just drop stuff on the ground with no thought.

The next phase of our lives will be consumed with MIL moving into an assisted living apartment. She sold her house and the closing date is June 20th. She gets her keys today. DH is the only kid in town so he will be the primary mover. One of his sisters will be coming June 10th and she's bringing her son, Nathan the college grad, so they will be able to help a lot. And we will pay my brother for his moving help, too. I'm a bit bummed because this move means that I will basically not have dh's assistance at all over the next month. He will go to his mother's house (across town) every day after work and on weekends. She's moving from a large 4 bedroom house into a tiny 1 bedroom...and she can't make decisions quickly about what to keep and what can go.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Winding down

Our mega vacation is winding down now. Sometime this morning, we will start our journey home. We will need to stop one place along the way and we should be pulling into our driveway tomorrow afternoon. The kids, especially Ethan, are more then ready for the comforts of home. I'm looking forward to it, too. I grossly underestimated how much 'free time' I would have for my creative activities during our vacation. Yes, I got lots of knitting in during our driving days and even during our sitting around and visiting times but I'm really anxious to develop more consistancy with my spinning and I think 10-15 minutes a day at home is what's going to help. Our days here have been 'go, go, go!' and I think I'll have a bit of on of down time at home for spinning. I have a ton of yummy fiber to work with.

I finished Mia's first sock last night. Instead of casting on the 2nd one today, I'm going to cast on Greyson's wonderful wallaby. Mia's 2nd sock can be my take-along project once we are back home. Greyson's wallaby will be a larger project and it would be great to have a big dent made in the progress.

Well, my time is up. I gotta help dh pack us up. It'll be a long driving day for us today.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Graduation #2

We have been in Indiana for the past 2 nights. Friday night, we went to my nephew's grad party. Saturday we had lunch at my all-time-favorite pizza place...Pizza King. They don't have them in Florida and nothing is quite as good as Pizza King. I like to get barbeque sauce and pepperoni. Yum yum!

We drove up to Muncie to visit with my grandma who is in a rehab place after her back surgery. I brought her a couple gowns, socks and chapstick. She was really appreciative and that made me feel good. Then we drove out to aunt's house in Eaton We visited for a little while and then we went to the cemetery to visit my cousin's gravesite. We talked about Nolan and Jared and we both got teary. My mom met us there. My aunt had previous plans for dinner at Red Lobster so they went that way. They had invited us but I didn't think the kids were up to it (plus I needed to spend time with my mom and I didn't want to complicate my aun's dinner plans) so we made plans to go to Chuck E Cheese with the kids. Mia actually LOVES Red Lobster and we never take her so I asked my aunt if she minded letting Mia tag along. She didn't and it actually worked out very well because my aunt's 12 year old step-granddaughter was with them. Mia and she had a fabulous time.

The other kids had a blast at CEC, of course. I think my mom has wanted a reason to go there so she had fun, too. My aunt dropped Mia off at CEC as we were leaving and we drove back to my SIL's house.

In the midst of all these activities, I got to spin and ply Nate! I did the bulk of the spinning in the morning. When we got back, it was late but I wanted to finish so I plugged on. Greyson was awake when I was dealing with a tangled mess from a yarn cake plying attempt. He actually peddled for me while I stood WAY back, untangling the 2 plies and then feeding it onto the bobbin. Nate, as yarn, looks great! I still have thick and thin spots so I have no idea what I'll knit with it.

I've also come a long way on sock #1 for Mia. I'm 4-5 rows away from the first toe decrease.

Today is the actual graduation so things will be busy. I'm sure I'll get some sock knitting in but that might be the only thing I get done. Tomorrow, we start our long trek home.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


We took a train from Michigan City, Indiana, into Chicago. We decided on the Aquarium although the Field Museum was very tempting. I quickly determined that it was $25 cheaper for us to buy a family membership then it was for us to buy regular tickets. So, we can go back as many times as we want over the next year. hee hee hee Before we went in, we met another loss family from Chicago. The kids all ran around and played on these rolling hills in front of the city and the lake. It was a beautiful view.

The aquarium was really nice. The kids all seemed to like it. The sea otters, beluga wales, penguins and komodo dragon were all favorites. Mia was acting mopey because she knew Chicago had an American Girl Place and that was one thing we didn't do in NYC that we had initially planned. DH and I decided to try to get there, if we could. It involved a few free trolley rides but we made it there. We let the girls picked out one item each. (So much for watching the budget!) Kendall picked a mini Julie just like her doll. Mia picked out an asian outfit.

We then got to take a regular bus to Millenium station to catch our train home. It was a great, busy day. Chicago was rather cool. I wish we had more time here. I would have liked it if I could have coordinated a few online friend visits since we were so close to others. I'm too tired to get the camera to upload photos. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What Day is it?

I think it's Wednesday. Time marches by quickly and there just isn't must lounging time here on vacation. There is an insane amount of work to be done for us camper dwelling folks.
Loads of laundry done: At least 15. Seriously. We've been gone for 11 days and we've done more then 15 loads. That's not really including bedding either..unless you count a few items here and there based on need.

When I last wrote, I hinted about diamonds. The kids and I went prospecting and sluicing in Herkimer, New York. Dh stayed at the camper with Lily and the rest of us walked across the way to the Herkimer Diamond Mine. I paid $42 admittance for the 4 big kids and I to get hammers and entrance to the 'mines' which were really 2 big piles of rocks.

It was hot. We smashed away but didn't really get anything good although we saw lot of possibilities. I think we needed better tools to be able to free the tiny 'diamonds' (quartz) from their stony homes. A chisel would have been very helpful. We tried anyway. And it was pretty fun. Kendall mosied up to people and told them she hadn't found a single thing. One man, a professional prospector working from a hole in the ground, told her she needed to look harder. Later, the man's lady friend gave Kendall a diamond which I thought was very nice but I had a little talk with Kendall about not fishing for gifts from people.

Since it was so hot, the hottest day of our entire trip, we didn't stay as long as I would have liked. On our way out, I bought a $10 bag of dirt and we sluiced using their water thingy outside. We found lots of great gems!

The rest of the day was spent getting cleaned up and then the kids tried swimming again. Somehow, the temp plummetted and it was too cold for swimming so they shivered at the edge. I dove in and it was...refreshing...bone chilling cold.

I can't remember if this was the day I took my wheel to the playground. I am seriously sad that I just haven't had hardly any time to spin. We have been moving too much for that. I did get to predraft all of 'Nate' so I am hoping I can spin him soon...maybe when we park at my SIL's house this weekend.

Tuesday was a long road day. In our initial planning, we planned on stopping at Niagara Falls but we nixed those plans after we got a late start and a falls diversion would have put us behind schedule. As we approached, I asked dh how far off our path was it? 16 miles. We both decided to heck with the schedule and we stopped anyway. It was a whirlwind stop. We were in and out in about an hour. We didn't get to see everything but we can say that we went and we saw the falls. Lily was especially impressed. Mia hated it. She was freaked out by the panhandler who approached us in the parking lot. He was really agressive and it ticked my dh off.

I finished my 2nd monkey sock just as we arrived at Niagara Falls...ends woven in and everything!

We stayed at a Flying J last night...don't ask me where. Tonight we are back to a regular campground. We arrived here, got set up and I watched the kids on the playground while working on my next sock project...socks for Mia with yarn purchased in NYC. They will be short socks so I hope they go quickly. I'm not following a pattern on these ones. This playground has lots and lots of DIRT under the equipment. Kendall rolled around it in wearing her wonderful wallaby....the only 'jacket' she has so it meant another laundry round for me. And we had somehow already accumulated 2 full loads anyway.

I met a longtime online friend, Rachel, at the Hanna Andersson outlet here. I was in heaven walking among all the cute clothes. Oh my how I love HA clothes on my girls. On the way there, Mia proclaimed that she hates it along with Gymboree but that didn't stop her from finding 2 things that she liked from the racks. I could have bought a ton more but I exercised great restraint which dh would probably disagree with. Rachel has 2 daughters and they seemed to hit it off with my kids, especially Kendall and her oldest dd.

Now we have tentatively planned a quick day trip to Chicago tomorrow. I think we will check out one of the museums there.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Graduation #1

We met our family at the college campus Saturday morning. It was dh's oldest sister, her dh, their son Nathan - the graduate, and MIL who flew up for the event. We walked around campus a bit and then had lunch at a buffet there. MIL can no longer walk down stairs in general and the buffet was upstairs so we had to scramble to make a seating area so that she could avoid the stairs. That was a fun arrangement...when having to get food & drinks downstairs for kids. After lunch we walked around some more...it is a lovely place.

We came back to the campground where our crazy kids went swimming in the freezing cold pool. DH and I watched them and I tried to sneak a little sock knitting in. Somewhere between there and our camper, I lost a dpn...a size 3.0 US 3 dpn not your tandard 3.25 US 3. So almost halfway through sock number 2 and I lost a vital tool that can't be found at any of the local craft stores or even LYSs. Grrr!

Dinner was at the Hotel Utica in a meeting room. It was a catered event held in honor of a network of 11 friends, including Nathan. Our kids were fairly well behaved but I was not entirely comfortable there. It seemed liked a lot of the people were monied and we were just plain old camper traveling folks. Kendall, however, was the belle of the ball and she charmed quite a few people with her contagious smile and fancy dress twirling. Ethan kept 'stealing' the fancy graduation toothpicks near the appetizers. He had a stack of 20 of them when I finally caught on and he was quite convinced he was keeping them. Mia felt uncomfortable and after dinner I let her walk around the lobby with Lily.

Sunday was the big day. We arrived on campus an hour early and still had to park very far away. Lily lasted 30 minutes before I had to take her out. Eventually all my kids joined me outside where lots of other children and toddlers were playing. I pulled out my sock and was able to knit a bit while they played. (I had swapped a 3.25 us 3 for the missing dpn because at this point I just want to be done with the damn sock.) On the way to lunch, I discovered that dpn #2 was missing. I had an entire afternoon on a beautiful campus with lots of waiting time and no way to knit. I retraced my steps but didn't find it. The college hosted a catered picnic for all attendees so we participated in that. Once the crowds cleared out, I retraced my steps again and found my dpn stuck in the grassy area close to where the kids were playing earlier. It truly was like finding a needle in a haystack because my dpn matched the little tree triggy things that were all over the grass. I was thrilled to be able to knit again! And yeah, I guess I should give magic loop another try.

We met Nathan's girlfriend and her parents. For whatever reason, I was a bit surprised when I met her....a very beautiful Korean girl named Kate. We have known about Kate since Nathan's freshman year so I have had 3+ years to envison her as someone completely different. She was incredibly nice and tried to convince Nate, as she called him, to take them to a playground across campus. We hitched a ride on a golf cart back to our van while dh pushed Lily in the stroller.

DH and I discovered that we have burned through an insane amount of money and we aren't even halfway through our trip. Yikes! I think we got a little free with the spending since we are on vacation and all. From this point on, we need to buckle down and watch our spending. The main thing we can do is actually eat from our camper vs eating out.

The kids, minus Kendall, went swimming again. Well, if you call standing in the water up to your knees and shivering 'swimming.' We cooked tilapia on our griddle/grill and had cesar salad, apple slices and oreas on our picnic table outside the camper. Afterwards, we took the dishes down to the campground's outdoor dishwashing sink. Once chores were down, we all took a bike ride around the campground and we ended up on a rocky beach along a river. This was seriously one if the best moments of our entire vacation. We let the kids take their shoes off and walk around in the frigid water. Kendall fell on her bottom but she wasn't too upset. Mia tried to get to one of the huge rocks but she just couldn't do it. Lily sat on the edge and tossed little rocks in. I took my shoes off and joined the kids, too. We all did a kind of river rock dance, walking on the rocks, slowly and step by step, and trying not to step on sharp ones. It was dark by the time we biked back. Our neighbor's fire was still going and the kids were hungry so we let them roast hotdogs. It was a lovely way to end our evening.

It's now the start of day 9 and we have plans to add 'diamonds' to our family wealth today. More on that later.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day 6-7

Day 6 and 7

As usual, it took us hours to pack up camp and get back on the road again. The bikes had to be attached to the roof rack, our outdoor table folded up and brought inside, the camper slide cranked in, the 2 tent bed ends disassembled and folded up, the outdoor carpet swept off and folded, etc, etc, etc. The coolest thing was listening to the kids play outside in that field while we packed up. There were no arguments...only a few squeals from Lily who wanted out of her secure (safe) spot in the stroller. We let her run around a bit, too, but we mostly needed to make sure she didn't run down the road while the big kids were preoccupied.

It was lunch time by the time we headed out. We are getting low on groceries so we were going to do a quick fast food run...which always starts a big argument of who likes what. McDonald's is almost always the popular consensus except that I am getting sick of Micky D's. Greyson doesn't like the chicken at Wendy's or Burger King. No one likes the fries at BK for that matter so it's usually out anyway. And so on and so on and so on. We used our handy GPS to locate a McDonald's on our path. It led us to a freakin food court in a huge outlet mall. That just wasn't working for us so we picked the next one a mile away. That ended up being a distribution center with lots of golden arches on semi-trucks. We gave up and got back on the highway. We then decided to try a service exit which boasted of a Roy Rogers. DH and I made the executive decision to go there. Mia & I went in to get the food since there was no drive through.

There was a hold up on chicken and there were 20 or so people behind us. There were 4 peeps, including us, waiting for chicken. Someone from the back got the great idea to let the non-chicken waiting people go ahead to grab there food from the cafe line style warming slots. Which meant that by the time we got our chicken, the mashed potatoes that Mia wanted were gone and so were the fries. Of course, I didn't think about that when they were all walking by. It took an INSANE amount of time for us to get our food. And the food we grabbed earlier was cold by the time we checked out. We ate in the van. It was seriously the most disgusting meal I have ever purchased for my family.

I was in the mood for knitting so I worked on my 2nd monkey sock. Right after one stop, when we were moving, my dpn from my monkey sock flew out of my hand and disappeared to the right of me. I emptied both compartments and it wasn't there. I HAD to be able to knit so I unbuckled and dove down into the foot area where I finally was able to find it in the step area of the door. I was able to knit to the heel flap. I was hoping to be done with this sock already so it's getting old! Plus I'm majorly ticked off at a knot I encountered. I cut the knot out and left the ends to be tied but the new area was in a different color and it's patterning in a different way which irks me. I'm ready to move on to another project.

Our new campground is awesome. There are tons of children here and we are close to the playground. Our neighbors are 2 elderly couples who have taken a liking to the kids. They had a fire going last night and they gave our kids sticks and marshmellows for roasting. I didn't reealize that it was Memorial Day weekend which explains all the campers here. The camp also has lots of activities planned..like the flashlight candy hunt last night. We aren't actually going to be here a whole lot over the next few days since we will be doing nephew graduation stuff.

I did 5 loads of laundry when we got here. It would have been 2, maybe 3, loads in our front loader. I think this was 3 days worth of laundry. It it wasn't so darn cold and wet we could go a week between laundry but our severely limited clothing options forced the camp laundrymat trip.

If I can, I'm going to set my wheel up outside in a few minutes. I really need a shower first but I can't bear to go to the showers in this 40 degree weather...with no heat in the showers. Yes, they have hot water but the air is just too cold. I can't really shower here because we don't have a full hook-up site...just water and electric.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Perfect Storm

Day 5

We took our time getting ready for our second trip into the city. At the first station, dh realized he left his phone in the van. He decided not to get it because it was raining and because we didn't need it at all the previous day. He also rationalized that he had his work Blackberry that could be used for calls in an emergency. Once in NYC, we took the subway directly to the Museum of Natural History. We stopped outside and had hotdogs from a street vendor before we went inside. Somewhere around the 3rd floor, the kids started whining and they just wanted to go to Central Park for cotton candy and playground time. We had to see the dinos though so we trugged on. The museum was very cool. I read some of the information out to the children but who knows what they may have learned. Naturally, the boys gravitated to all the weapon displays. Mia loved all the little house displays and she was in heaven in the Asian area. I worked on my monkey sock there and throughout NYC.

We walked to another LYS, Knitty City. At first, it was a bit uncomfortable because of the smallness of the store and the wideness of our stroller. DH moved it to the side and he waited while I walked around. No one greeted me or asked me if I needed help and for some reason, I was a little bothered by that. There appeared to be a class going on in the back of the room and it made me feel like I was intruding. I walked around, touched lots of fiber and yet again I have a knack for finding and drooling over the $60 a skein stuff. I was prepared to leave when Kendall spotted the same yarn I used for her Wonderful Wallaby...Cascade Sierra Quatro. OMG - how I love that yarn. It's a Pima Cotton and Wool blend. So soft to the touch, almost silky, and it knits up beautufully. Plus it's machine washable. At this point, I needed help figuring out how much to buy to be able to do Wonderful Wallaby sweatshirts for Mia, Greyson and Ethan so I found an employee and they happened to sell that pattern so they brought me one to look at. And the girl was very nice, I might add. I bought 16 skeins of Sierra in 3 colors! Red for Ethan, dark blue for Greyson and 2 greens for Mia. They didn't have 7 skeins of any color for Mia so we picked 3 varigated green and 4 solid light green. I came so close to not spending a dime and yet I ended up spending $150, my biggest yarn purchase ever!

We walked to Central Park, looking for a playground...that we didn't find until it was too late. We went right when we should have gone left. We walked and walked and walked. We stopped and let the kids play on a huge rocky area. I knit some more, dh replied to a work email on his crackberry, I mean blackberry, and he was wearing sleeping Lily in a sling.

One thing I noticed was the huge number of nannies pushing strollers in this part of town. It was like we had fallen in step with nannies and their charges heading to a nanny convention. And I think there was even one male nanny pushing a stroller. He definately did not look like a dad. I know a few people who have nannies back home but it was nothing like what we saw. Now, if we had been smart, we would have turned left to join the convention which I am sure was at the playground to the left pathway vs the path we took. I think it was a happy mistake though. I did notice that moms/nannies? hover right next to their children on the playground. DH and I can't do that with 5 kids so we would have looked negligent. {gasp} The rock formation thing was enjoyable to us and the kids so it was a win/win situation.

We took the Subway back towards Penn station where dh inadvertantly gipped the system by only scanning our pass once before we were let through the gate with our stroller. P.S. the stroller was a life-saver! Since we had the sling, the stroller became available for Kendall or Ethan as their legs 'ran out of gas.' Greyson even took a quick turn in there. The moms of NYC have evolved and have strollers better then ours. They all seemed to have these cool looking ones with bigger wheels, yet with a small footprint, and the child was raised higher and could be faced in or outwards. We saw a few of these $500 strollers at BRU when we made a quick trip to BRU restroom.

The 7:07 train to Secaucus was somewhat full so dh stayed in the handcapped area while the kids and I moved forward (or was it backwards) to find seats. A very nice gentleman offered to move so that Mia and I could sit together. I had Lily in the sling. The 3 middles sat diagonally from me. If the one butthead sitting scross from them would have switched with us, then we all could have been together.

They announced that Secaucus was near and I got our stuff ready...and waited until we were supposed to get off. There was no activity by our area and I was facing the back. Then we started moving and realization hit...we missed our stop! I took a quick inventory and immediately realized that dh had my backpack which had my money. I had 5 kids, 4 bags, no stroller, no money and no cell phone. (My cell phone died, totally died at the beginning of our vacation.) And our navigator had gotten off the train in Secaucus. He had his blackberry but I had no idea of what that number was. The kids started asking questions. I assured them that we would be fine...that we would get off at the next station and then go back to our stop. I was a wee bit concerned that dh would realize we didn't have money and that he would hop on the next train to find us. Ultimately I decided that he would stay put because we still had to ride to Harriman and that train left from Secaucus, where he was. As we got off the train, I had a moment of panic that our stop might not be a 'real' full station with an information desk. We were in luck...and we headed down the stairs to find someone to tell our sob story to.

'My husband and I got separated and we need to get back to Secaucus. Is there a train heading back that way?' 'Yes, of course' she replied as she looked the schedule. 'OK, great,' I replied. 'My next dilemma is that all of my money is with my husband in Secaucus so I can't buy any tickets.' She immediately came out of her glass information booth and she walked us to the track that we needed. We had to walk down a broken escalator. She even helped me keep my wanderer, Ethan, in line with the group. And then she waited with us until our train arrived a few minutes later. She told our story to the conductor and he let us on the train without tickets. And voila...we were on our way. But we had no idea where Daddy was and if he had gone looking for us. The kids spotted him first and they ran full throttle towards him. We had to go into the customer service office to get the stroller and our belongings. "Hello Kerri' they greeted me. "We know all about you.' They were trying earnestly to locate me on the trains by sending out calls to all the possible stops. I have to say that the employees were all very nice!

We made it to our track, which was empty of any commuters, we looked across to the next track and saw a stopped train heading down our line. DH insisted that was the one we wanted so we rushed up the yet-again broken escalator and down the other side where we *just* missed it. DH looked at his watch and said 'Wait, that was too early.' We headed back to the other track, where commuters were now arriving and we were able to get on the right train. Just another little bit of excitement! I was secretly glad that dh led us on this one because it took the heat off me for my little diversion.

I think the kids will love sharing this little 'story' (of our missed stop) with anyone who will lend an ear. We all made it back to our camper safely where everyone fell asleep fairly quickly. They are all still sleeping, those lazy bums. ;) My body feels like I ran a marathon and I'm hobbling around today.

Next stop - Hamilton College, New York.

One final thing before I forget...we were definately an oddity in NYC. During our entire trip, I saw 2 other families with 3 kids. The vast majority was one child with a fair sprinkling of 2s. We were the largest family for sure. OK, I'm sure other large families were probably in the city but we did not see them and we certainly got lots and lots of comments. The kids were all ready to move to NYC. I think it would be pretty hard to do a Sam's trip on the subway. Yeah, that would be horrific. Nevermind. We never could afford to live here anyway. It has been a wonderful place to visit though.

New York, Baby!

Day 4

Our campground...Black Bear in Florida, New York. After 3 days in the van, we were looking forward to letting the kids loose to burn of some of their never-ending supply of energy. And guess what? It was raining..and freezing cold, too. So we all danced around each other while dh set up the camper and I made a lunch of soup and sandwiches. Eventually, when the rain lightened to a mist, we let the kids run around in the small field next to us. They were very cold so I made some hot cocoa for them. When the rain stopped completely, I brought out M'lady and I started spinning my second batch of kool-aid dyed roving (bought at Knit-Witz.) This stuff is reds and pinks from 3 varieties of Kool-aid and very pretty. I really enjoyed spinning while watching my children outside playing princess (Kendall and later Lily) and sword fighting princes (Greyson & Ethan.) Mia was the director. She even got Ethan and Kendall to fake kiss for a scene. I didn't get too far on my spinning, maybe 1/4 a bobbin. I don't remember if I got much knitting done...maybe a couple pattern repeats on Monkey Sock #2 (or #3 depending on if you count the doomed one.)

We hung around the camper all afternoon. Everyone got much needed showers so we would be clean for our jaunt into the Big Apple on Wednesday.

NYC - Day 5

We parked our van in Harriman, NY, and we took the train into Secaucus. From there we transferred to NYC Penn station. The kids, especially Ethan, were thrilled to be on trains. I can't even describe how thrilled I was to be walking around in NYC! So many sights looked familiar from movies and whatnot. It was just cool. We used our GPS to find the big Toys R Us and it looked like a local yarn store, Yarn Connection, was on the way there. We had to drag the stroller up to the 2nd floor of a residential building. The store was tucked away in a tiny room that had very tall ceilings. I felt claustrophobic with the towering walls of yarn. I picked a ball of tofutsies sock yarn and we headed out.

GPS let us down with her outdated information because we arrived at TRU to discover it had been converted to a Babies R Us. We decided to have lunch and we ate at Good Burger...and it was very good...but ended up costing us $69 and that was with some sharing among children.

We took the subway to TRU. We rode the Ferris Wheel ($4 each.) Dh and I waffled about whether to let the kids pick out a small toy. We decided to let them...and that was a BIG mistake. It was just too over-whelming...too many choices and we, the parents, had limited them to $10 and something small that they could hold. I think we spent 2 hours in there including the Ferris Wheel ride. I was ready to get out. I mean, the store was nice but it was still loaded with the same toys that could be bought at our TRU or online. Here's what the kid's picked...

Mia - cheap Barbie Doll and a clothing pack. She really went over the $10 limit by a couple bucks. I'm not even sure why she picked Barbie considering her age and the fact that she doesn't really play with Barbie's anymore.

Greyson - Star Wars figurine with light sabor

Kendall - a little Bratz Baby that pees after you give her water from a bottle and 2 bonus pets that pee into a litter box with sand. I obviously didn't look at that package closely before buying!

Ethan - The best choice among the toys - a 2 pack of Speed Racer cars.

Lily - I picked out a little stuffed giraffe for her.

We headed towards the Empire State building. I was surprised at the security check point. I guess this was one of the things that changed after 9/11. I understand why they need to do it but it was really a pain to unload all the bags and keep the children together. Mia ended up getting pushed aside by several non-english speaking tourists because they crowded the metal detector as it was her turn and someone set it off. We were herded through ropes and we took 2 elevators to finally get up there. We did get an express pass up the last elevator, thanks to Lily screaming. They escorted us right out of the line. LOL Thanks, baby Girl!

It was WINDY and cold. I was not digging the continuous blast of freezing air. DH's hat blew off and he had to chase after it. We looked around a bit from all 4 sides and then I headed inside with all the children. Lily was still very fussy so I thought I would sit down and discreetly nurse her. Wrong. No sitting allowed. After a long day of walking...and no place to sit, I was done with the Empire State Building.

We had dinner at McDonald's close to Penn Station. Thank goodness for fast food prices! Greyson's tiny light sabor got stuck under a bench and dh had to lift the bench so he could retrieve it.

Then we took our trains back to Harriman and dh drove us back to our camper. I think it was 9:30 and all 5 children were fast asleep. A fun-filled exhausting day!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 3

It’s now the beginning of day 3 of our grand adventure although I likely won‘t be able to post this until tonight. We started in Florida and have passed through Georgia, South Carolina (where we met T’s mom to drop off Sophie,) North Carolina (where we camped at a Flying J truck stop instead of walmart,) Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennslyvania .

That first night, we just couldn’t make it another 1.5 hours to get to the WalMart Super Center that was on our path. We might actually have to forgo walmart camping because we have are using an entire tank of water each day. When 6 people have to stop and pee at least every hour to hour and a half…we end up using our entire supply of fresh water in the tank in less then 24 hours. That’s water for flushing and washing hands. I guess that also includes water for washing a few dishes/pans, too. The flying J has water, propane, fuel and even a dump station. We will try to conserve water a bit more on our driving days but I doubt we could go 2 days unless we resort to public restrooms. {{gasp!}}

Speaking of restrooms….we seem to have started a tradition where the first person in the camper bathroom at each stop…well, they stink it up for everyone else. Most of us hold our breath and just deal with it but our sweet Kendall has a very sensitive nose and she starts gagging. Poor thing! Yeah - it’s not pleasant. Got to keep it real before I encourage any large family road trips!

I have been knitting so much that my hands are feeling arthritic…especially now, first thing in the morning. On a VERY happy note, I finished one of my Monkey socks…with Jitterbug Kingfisher. And it fits!! I cast on number 2 immediately but had to stop when I dropped a dpn into the door jam of the van. I later recovered it but it as then too dark for me to resume knitting. I also discovered that my yarn ball winder fits perfectly on the grab handle of our van. I actually had the nerve to frog my first too-tight monkey sock and then I wound it onto the ball winder so that I could keep the skein continuous. I have just kept it there because I rather like knitting off it.

Speaking of my beautiful completed Monkey sock. I tried it on and took a few pictures. Not even 30 seconds later, we discovered that Lily filled her diaper. We spotted a sign for a farmer’s market so DH pulled off so that I could change her and then afterwards we would pick up some fruit from the market. I layed a towel down on the bench seat of the van and I unbuckled her. I stood at the end of the seat, pulled her pants off and was treated to a small ‘thump’ on my monkey sock foot. Yes, a nice plop of yellow cabbage poop flew out of her pant leg and of all places onto my prized hand knitted sock! I got her cleaned up and then I got myself cleaned up. By this point I was feeling gross so I took a quick sponge bath in the tiny camper bathroom and I washed my hair by leaning into the tiny shower and using the shower sprayer. No one else has showered or anything. We are holding out until we get to our campground.

After the poop knitastrophy, we picked out our goodies and then headed to a local playground to fix lunch and to let the kids play. It was a great playground and a class of daycare kids was there so my kids had new friends to play with.

One thing that I hadn’t planned on…it’s freakin cold up here!! I packed a minimal amount of cold-weather clothing…pants and long sleeved shirts for the kids. It had to be in the lower 40s last night. We are going to be in trouble if it ends up like this every day. Thank goodness dh had 2 hoodies because I took one of his. Lily is wearing Pjs today because it was the only thing that covered her arms and legs. Brrr! I guess I would have expected this a month ago…but not late May.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Can't leave home without it

We are heading out in a couple hours and I think I spent more time packing my wheel, fiber, yarn, knitting needles and pattern books then I did packing everything else. It's going to be a monster trip with loads and loads of driving time. Whee! DH does most of the driving so I'll be able to knit...and maybe even predraft fiber for my early morning spinning sessions while the kids are still sleeping in the camper.

We won't be staying at a campground tonight. Yep...we are going to try Wal-Mart camping. When dh told me about it, I thought he's been smoking crack or something. I like to save money and all but this sounded extreme! I did a bit of internet research...to prove him wrong...and I even posted a poll on my parenting BB and people had seen and even done this before. I still thought he was nuts but with the rapidly increasing cost of fuel...I changed my mind. Our gas budget for this trip will be well over $1000!! Tonight is a good night for trying the walmart thing because we are driving as much as we can and then we will be leaving early tomorrow for day 2 of driving.

First destination? New York City!! Well, we aren't camping in NYC. We are camping as close as we can get and then we will take the train into the city. I'm beyond excited. The kids are also excited. My oldest was excited but now she's panicking about the crowds. She's convinced we are going to get separated. I'm a wee bit concerned but I think we can handle it.

I hope to have internet access along the way so I can post my fibery progress.

Oh oh! I can't forget about the spin-in yesterday. Our local yarn store, Knit-Witz, had a spin-in. My dh was gracious enough to 'allow' me to attend even though we were no where near ready for our trip. I had a great time. My spinning is getting better!! The green yarn is blue faced leiceister wool that I dyed with kool-aid, spun on my ladybug and then plied. I love it! The gals kept calling it BRIGHT. LOL I don't really think it's all that bright...more sherberty then neon.
Chris from Sugarbee Studios brought lots of fiber porn for us to touch and buy. I picked out a One Night Stand fiber batt named Nate. Man, he's hot and has awesome baby blues. I thought I was going to pick Collin but Nate stole my heart. I can't wait to spin him up! I also picked up a bag of her squishy raspberries & cream roving with merino/corri/wool & silk. And she brought me the 'It's All About the O' sock yarn that I bought from her etsy website site last week. I'm in fiber heaven. Now I just need to take my time and get better at spinning so that I can spin and then knit something with this yummy stuff.